Saturday, March 26, 2011

Not-Quite-Instant Chocolate Pudding

Here's another Cook's Illustrated recipe, this time for chocolate pudding. As a kid, it never occurred to me that pudding could be made from anything but a box. I always kind of liked the stuff, but it was never a favorite. This past Valentine's Day, I was looking for something a bit special to serve the family, just for fun. I have some coeur a la creme (pardon the lack of accents, etc), that were gifted to me and I thought it would be fun to serve chocolate pudding in them. Elspeth was enthralled and kept on saying, "I love this", so I took that as a good sign.

Cook's published a recipe in 1999 for double chocolate pudding and this is my go-to recipe. Interestingly, they just published another chocolate pudding recipe in the Sep/Oct 2011 issue in which they made no mention of their prior effort. I find this silly, as long-time readers are quite likely to remember that they've covered the topic before. I have no quarrel with re-visiting recipes, but instead of pretending it's not an update, I wish they'd give me some analysis of what qualities that Recipe A has that Recipe B doesn't, and vice versa. To insist that there is only one definitive recipe for any dish leaves no room for different tastes. I don't know if I'll try the 2011 version. It has 2 oz. less bittersweet chocolate and 1 TBSP more cocoa powder. I thought the original 1999 recipe was plenty creamy so I'll likely stick with that. Or, I might do a side-by-side tasting and complete my own analysis of the pros and cons of each version.

This pudding is particularly nice accompanied by raspberries.

INGREDIENTS

6
oz.
bittersweet chocolate (we use Theo)
2
TBSP cocoa powder (Cook's specifies Dutch-process, but I use whatever I've got)

2
TBSP
cornstarch 
2/3 c evaporated cane juice sugar 
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 c cream
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 c 2%  milk (or whatever you've got, the end result will just be creamier or less creamy) 
1 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
2
tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
  1. I like using the microwave to melt the chocolate, but you can use a double boiler if you prefer. To use the microwave, break the chocolate into evenly-sized pieces and put in a glass bowl. Microwave on 50% power for 3 1/2 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. If after the full time the chocolate is still not fully melted, microwave on 50% power up to another 30 seconds. Set aside melted chocolate to cool slightly
  2. Sift the cocoa powder, sugar, cornstarch and salt together into the bottom of a heavy medium-sized saucepan. I like our 3 qt. pan.
  3. With the heat off, slowly whisk in the cream, eggs yolks and, lastly, the milk. Then stir in the chocolate. Expect clumps.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pot. The chocolate clumps will even out with heat.
  5. When the pudding darkens and thickens, reduce heat to medium and stir until the pudding very thickly coats a spoon (about 200 degrees F). This should take only a minute or two.
  6. Put the pudding through a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Stir the butter and vanilla into the pudding in the bowl (discard any residue in the strainer)
  7. Gently apply some parchment paper to the top of the pudding to help avoid it forming a skin
  8. Cool 30 minutes and then refrigerate until serving