Chocolate pudding

I made this chocolate pudding with my best friend from high school in mind. She loves chocolate pudding. I’ve seen her eat it for breakfast and I’ve seen her eat in for dinner. Nice big bowls of it.

She does not, however, like to cook much. She bakes some mean cinnamon rolls and whips up a batch of pudding if the mood hits her. She doesn’t understand what all the fuss about pie crust is and will throw one together if she feels like eating pie. Yet I once saw her pull a can of black beans out of a cupboard and prepare to eat them cold out of the can because, as far as she could see, there was nothing in the house to make dinner out of. Cheese and eggs and tortillas and salsa were sitting, waiting, in the fridge. I made her some ad hoc huevos rancheros and she thought I was a genius.

For all her baking, fussy is not her game. I don’t think she is at all interested in tempering eggs or doing other things that, to my culinary mind, are part of making pudding. So I experimented with streamlined methods and minimal dirty-dish production. Now I just want all those hours I’ve spent whisking hot liquid into beaten eggs back. It ends up it wasn’t really necessarily in the first place.

Chocolate pudding

This is not pot de crème or extra rich or super-duper chocolate-y. This is creamy, yummy, old-fashioned chocolate pudding. The kind that is mainly milk and eggs. The kind you can tuck into a nice big bowl of. If you want a bigger chocolate hit, simply melt two to four ounces of chocolate and stir it in at the end with the vanilla.

3/4 cup sugar*

5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

4 tablespoons cornstarch

3 cups milk, divided

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and cornstarch. Whisk in about 3/4 cup of the milk. Work it until it is very smooth and all the cocoa and cornstarch are dissolved and you have a brown paste. Add the eggs and egg yolks and whisk until everything is completely combined again. Now whisk in the remaining milk.

Put the pot on the stove over low heat. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and scarping the bottom and edges and corners of the pan to keep bits of the mixture from thickening unevenly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. This will take about 15 minutes. You want to cook the mixture slowly so the eggs don’t overcook and curdle into chunks. If nothing is happening, however, you may need to increase the heat – just little bits at a time – to get the mixture to thicken up properly. Take off the heat and stir in vanilla.

Transfer mixture to individual serving bowls or a single large bowl. Cover surface with plastic wrap or waxed paper and chill at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

* I used “vanilla sugar” – sugar in which I store fresh vanilla beans. The sugar keep the vanilla beans supple and fresh; the vanilla lightly scents the sugar. Regular sugar works just fine, too.