When I was a child and my father travelled for work, my mother sometimes made chocolate pudding, from a boxed mix, as dinner for the two of us. It represented freedom from meat and potatoes and the luxury of suiting our sweet tooth. These days, “Does someone need some chocolate pudding?” is the response when either my wife or I are strung out, stressed, and in need of solace. We like eating it warm, in which state it resembles European hot chocolate. I like it as much as mousse, maybe better. There are only a few tricks to the recipe below–the first is to use good ingredients–high quality cocoa, chocolate, and turbinado sugar. The second is to mix the ingredients in a blender before cooking, which pre-empts lumps. The recipe makes about two cups–to serve 2-4, depending on your level of stress.
3 Tbs. good cocoa powder (I like alkaline treated, i.e. Dutch process)
3 Tbs. turbinado sugar (you could substitute brown sugar, but turbinado is worth the trouble)
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 3/4 cups whole milk plus 1/4 cup heavy cream (you can change the proportions if you want it richer, to total 2 cups)
1/4 tsp. salt
3 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate (I use our “house” brand, Trader Joe’s 72% Belgian pound plus) in smallish pieces
1 tsp. vanilla extract (added after cooking to prevent evaporation)
Whir everything except the chocolate and vanilla in a blender. Dump into a heavy saucepan, and cook at medium heat until thickened, 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly. Off the heat, whisk in the chocolate to melt it, and then the vanilla extract. Voila! If you want to serve this chilled and don’t like the “skin,” place plastic or wax paper on it.