As a child, few desserts made me as giddy as chocolate pudding. Piercing the skin with the tip of my spoon, gliding through the creamy custard below and scraping every last bit from the bottom of the pyrex ramekin remains an enduring, comforting memory of my childhood.
Despite this near obsession, I rarely make pudding. Here in Santa Barbara, when seriously cold nights are few and far between, I don’t crave the comfort food desserts of my youth with the same regularity. So, serving chocolate pudding to my crew is cause for a celebration.
Years ago — July 2003 to be exact — I made Triple-Chocolate Pudding Pie with Cappuccino Cream, a recipe from Bon Appetit. The details of the occasion are fuzzy, but the dessert was memorable if a bit over the top. The chocolate flavor — the result of the powerhouse combination of cocoa, bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate — is intense and the custard is remarkably thick.
While I’m typically a sucker for a sweet and crunchy cookie crust, in this case the pudding filling stands alone — well, almost. Barely-sweetened whipped cream balances out the richness. So, I de-constructed the recipe and focused on the pudding filling.
Like all custard and curds, this is a very straightforward recipe to prepare. I’ve made the pudding solo a few times and have made a handful of adjustments to the recipe, outlined below.
First up, I make half a recipe — four servings (on paper) are plenty for my team of three. You’ll find the custard so lush, that smaller servings are preferred and you’ll have leftovers.
To enhance the deep chocolate flavor, I added 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder and a pinch of table salt to the dry mixture (white sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder and cornstarch). And, because both cocoa and cornstarch tend to be lumpy, I sifted the dry ingredients together before cooking them with the liquid and egg yolks.
I got distracted at the market and forgot to buy half and half. So, this time around I substituted a mixture of heavy cream and 2 percent milk. (1 cup heavy cream and 3/4 cup 2 percent milk). The texture was thick and velvety and I wouldn’t hesitate to make the same adjustment again.
The recipe suggests that you cook the custard mixture over medium-high heat for about 12 minutes. Because I made a smaller amount of custard, I kept an eye on the clock, cooking the mixture for 5-6 minutes. I used the standard test for custard — dip a rubber spatula in the hot-and-bubbly mixture, run a finger through the liquid on the utensil. If the path holds, the custard is done.
While I love the skin that forms on the top of a pudding once it was off the heat, I covered mine with a plastic wrap so it would be easier to spoon into individual serving dishes.
As I noted earlier, a generous spoonful of not-too-sweet, softly whipped cream makes a lovely finish. I used 1 cup of heavy cream, 2 teaspoons sugar and added 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract for a hint of vanilla flavor. You’ll have plenty of whipped cream for four servings, and leftovers if you show more restraint that I did.
Here again is the link to Triple-Chocolate Pudding Pie with Cappuccino Cream. Go ahead, indulge yourself a little.