Before I delve any further into my Afghan experiment, let’s have some chocolate pudding.
Just as I expected! No dissenters. Not even the pickiest among us has a bone to pick with chocolate pudding and that’s what makes it so great.
I’m well aware that I do not have to explain to you the beauty of chocolate pudding. Maybe your grandmother made it from the box, maybe you discovered it on your own. Either way, you’ve probably had more pudding snack cups than you care to remember.
Pudding is classic. It’s comfort. It’s easy. It’s home.
But unlike frozen yogurt and cupcakes and other home-style treats, pudding has yet to become chic. As far as I know, there are no trucks ambling around NYC and LA, tweeting the exact location at which they will next dispense pudding to the masses. But think of how wonderful that would be! Pudding is satisfying, inexpensive, not necessarily a cold- or hot-weather food, and can be topped and tweaked to personal tastes. Chili-chocolate pudding? No problem. Dark chocolate pudding with ginger and orange peel? Coming right up. The possibilities are truly endless.
Such was my thought as I pondered what to make for my Afghan-themed dinner. Not a huge fan of classically sticky-sweet Middle Eastern desserts, I remembered the humble pudding, its darling appearance, universal appeal and potentiality.
To keep just perceptibly in line with the “theme” of Thursday’s feast, I spiced my pudding with cinnamon and cardamom, infused the milk with orange peel and topped it off with toasted coconut (my new favorite ingredient), roasted peanuts and, of course, whipped cream.
Everyone liked it. But I guess with chocolate pudding that really goes without saying, doesn’t it?
I’d like to give Kat a special mention here. I’m not sure which one of us first had the craving to make homemade pudding all those years ago, but I don’t know if it matters. Thanks for helping me see the light!
Though I have complained in the past about the lack of Jell-O pudding snacks in Australia, I’m just blowing hot air. After all, the chocolate pudding made at home is usually better and takes only marginally longer to prepare than Jell-O (sorry, Bill Cosby). I think it’s safe to say that I’ve got the chocolate pudding thing down pat. After many nights alone in Montreal to tinker and taste, I’ve simplified my recipe for all sorts of circumstances. Please feel free to tinker away, use whichever kind of milk you have, add whatever spices/essences/liquors you like…..Go ahead, play. This is chocolate pudding after all.
N.B.: pudding skin doesn’t always occur! I rarely cover my puddings. But then again, I like me some pudding skin.
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PUDDING (this is my favorite…serves 4)
⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon + 2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups milk
2 – 3 ounces (55-80 grams) dark chocolate
INDIVIDUAL PORTION CHOCOLATE PUDDING
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 oz. (15 grams) chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon cocoa
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract + pinch salt
Combine sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt in a small saucepan over med heat. Meanwhile. chop chocolate.
Slowly whisk in the milk, stir well and cook for 5 minutes, until mixture comes to a simmer.
Add the chocolate and any flavorings* you’re using. Whisk well and remove from heat once it begins to thicken.
Spoon pudding into individual serving dishes or one large dish and refrigerate until cold.
To avoid “pudding skin,” cover with plastic wrap, with the wrap touching the pudding. Top with whipped cream.
MILKY CHOCOLATE PUDDING (serves 6; orginally adapted from here)
¼ cup cornstarch
½ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
6 oz. (170 g) dark chocolate
Combine cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double broiler.
Slowly whisk in the milk, stir for about 10 to 15 minutes, until mixture coats the back of a spoon, then add the chopped chocolate.
Stir 2-4 minutes more until smooth and thick, then remove from heat and add any flavorings you’re using.* Pour into 6 individual dishes or one large dish. Refrigerate until cold. To avoid “pudding skin” cover with plastic wrap, with the wrap touching the pudding. Top with whipped cream, I beg of you.
2 tsp rum, a handful of rum-soaked raisins
1 tsp vanilla extract, fresh blueberries mixed in
1 tsp coconut extract + toasted coconut mixed in
2 tsp orange juice + orange zest
line bottom of dish with bananas, whipped cream, melted caramels or dulce de leche, then pour pudding over. Cool.
top with fresh strawberries and/or blueberries