Thursday, February 16, 2017

Chocolate Pudding (for No Whey Mama)

Luckily the children are still humanoid collages of berries and cream, sprinkled with freckles, scented with nectar, and just waiting for you to take a bite out of their little rosy cheeks.

Luckily, they're not made out of planes and angles, arms and legs stretched long and thin, jaws and cheekbones cutting into your palm when you try tenderly to cup a face that is on its way out the door to drive itself somewhere before leaving you forever.

Luckily, even if they were, I would be too busy calling my senators in an outrage, too busy watching our government unravel into a pile of dirty string bits, to notice. (Sob!)

Anyhoo. This pudding is an oldie, a goodie, and here by special request. You can make it with coconut milk, and it will be delicious. Weirdly, before this request even came in, I was in a pudding state of mind, having just stirred up a comforting pot of butterscotch My-T-Fine, since Birdy was sick, and I'd had an emergency three-hour root canal, the world was blanketed in snow, and we were in need of something soft and sweet to suck off of our spoons while we felt cozy and sorry for ourselves and watched Arrested Development, which we are watching again, for the same reason that I am recommending this utterly delightful book to you and also this obsessively delicious recipe, that reason being pure pleasure. Resist, resist, resist, enjoy, resist, resist, resist.

Chocolate Pudding
4 servings
Total time: 20 minutes, plus a couple hours for cooling

This recipe is adapted from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook. You will wish there were more, but don't try doubling it, as it tends to set erratically in larger batches. I once tried to multiply the recipe by six--back when Michael and I lived in our vegetarian co-op--and let me just say: first my arm fell off from whisking, and then the bottom of the pudding scorched. In that order.

4 ounces semisweet chocolate (chips are easiest, but we sometimes use a 4-ounce bar of Ghiradelli, broken up)
3 packed tablespoons light brown sugar
2 cups whole milk (or a combination of low-fat milk and either cream and half and half)
a dash of salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or a little mint extract, if you want to make chocolate-mint pudding)

In a heavy saucepan, combine the chocolate, sugar, and milk. Heat very gently over low heat, whisking constantly, until all the chocolate is melted, and the mixture is uniform. This will take about 5 minutes, and then it will look like hot chocolate, which is what you're going for. It should feel hot to the touch, but it shouldn't boil.

Combine the salt and cornstarch in a small bowl. Pour about 3/4 cup of the hot mixture into it, and whisk vigorously until the cornstarch is dissolved, then pour this solution back into the pot. Keep whisking and cook the pudding over very low heat for about 8-10 minutes, or until it is thick and glossy. For some reason ours was done in 5 minutes this last time, which is funny because I have a note in my handwriting that says "Up to a half an hour!" next to "8-10 minutes." Cornstarch can be finicky stuff. You may want to switch from a whisk to a wooden spoon as the pudding thickens. Don't imagine it will thicken much as it cools: it will, but it won't thicken if it's not already thick, if you get what I'm saying. Also, once it starts to set, don't mess with it or it will liquefy. Honestly, it's easy though, I swear.

Pour into serving dishes and chill at least one hour before eating. A dollop of whipped cream wouldn't hurt.


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  2. Anonymous11:27 AM

    I love this recipe! I'm also so heartbroken for the unraveling. Angry, shocked and heartbroken all rolled together. I know I'm not alone and that is a comfort. And pudding is a comfort. Oh, and in case you read this line "Also, once it starts to set, don't mess with it or it will liquefy" and it makes you a little bit tempted to do it--it really does liquefy! I'm usually such a directions follower, but when I first made this lo those many years ago, I must have been feeling rebellious and I touched it while it was setting. Liquified. So many more good uses for rebellion these days. Let the pudding set. --Cathy K

  3. YAY! Thank you so much! It's been a rough week, and we've been craving some comfort food.
    If I may add, we make this with Silk soy creamer and dairy-free chocolate chips (ie. Enjoy Life) for a decadent dairy-free version.

  4. After that "press conference" yesterday I surely need some chocolate pudding. Sigh. Thanks!

  5. Catherine, I have to recommend Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" ... It's lovely. A locavore take on food, both informative and achingly narrative. I'm loving it, and it keeps reminding me of you in obscure ways.

    1. I have also noticed a similarity in the feel of your writing and some of Kingsolver's. I noticed it while rereading High Tide in Tucson. Also, if you are in the mood for more pudding, Smitten Kitchen has a very delicious butterscotch one. Am I the only one who loves pudding best when it's still warm?

  6. We are having an unbelievably difficult time in our house right now--with both family stuff and what feels like the general unraveling of society as we knew it. I'm working hard to strike the right balance between resistance and self-care. This pudding looks particularly comforting, and I will be making it tonight--you know, for self-care purposes. XO

  7. Oh Catherine! It's so true about their bony planes and angles and their long coltish legs rushing into life headlong. I miss the little kid sweetlove days, though I'm lucky that my 13 year old still requires kisses and cuddles on a daily basis.
    Also, that pudding looks great :)

  8. Aw! The children were so little! I get teary with my FB memories of my babies when they were little, and I feel the passing of time when I see how yours have grown... sigh...