Now you’d think this wouldn’t be that difficult. HOWEVER….
For Christmas we made homemade drinking chocolate and biscotti for gifts for co-workers and friends. In the process of stocking up on chocolate, we got more than we ended up using. I’ve had several bars of chocolate sitting around since, and not wanting them to go rancid started trying to think of a way to use them.
Jess likes pudding – well, I do too. But it’s a dangerous thing to have around – FAR to easy to grab a spoonful or 10. And I’ve never really made puddings. My luck with them seems to be hit and miss. In fact yesterday I made Tapioca, which just didn’t quite thicken up like it should have. But with not working the last couple of months, I’ve had time to experiment. And today’s experiment was going to be chocolate pudding.
I had seen a couple of recipes so went looking for them. One called for 6 egg yolks. Now aside from the fact that that is just way more cholesterol than I want to put in my food, my penny-pinching side really hates to throw away 6 whites. And we’re not much for meringue. I went looking again and found one that was really quite reasonable – or at least relatively reasonable – in terms of it’s healthfulness.
I started gathering my ingredients, and it reminded me of our Christmas chocolate project. We had made three different versions of the drinking chocolate – Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate with Heat, and Dark Chocolate with Citrus. And my brain started running. Wouldn’t some cinnamon be good in it? Why not some chili (I LOVE a little spice with my chocolate). And so was born Mexican Dark Chocolate Pudding.
This was a relatively simple recipe as far as pudding recipes go. It does have you add some of the ingredients part way through the cooking, so I chopped up the chocolate and cut up the butter and put them in a small bowl, then beat the egg in another bowl and added the brandy to the egg. When I went to add the egg/brandy to the pudding, it looked like it had curdled the egg, but the pudding still turned out fine, nice and smooth. It did turn out a little thick, more like a pie filling, so I think I would decrease the cornstarch to 2 1/2 TBS. next time.
This was not a particularly sweet pudding, partly because I inadvertently decreased the amount of sugar to 1/3 cup. I also used Hershey’s 100% Cacao Dark Special Cocoa Powder, 6 oz. Ghirardelli 60% Cacao bittersweet chocolate (1 bar) and 2 oz. Unsweetened Belgian Baking Chocolate to round out the 8 oz. the recipe called for.
I used cinnamon, cardamom, mace and chipotle chili powder. I used 1/2 tsp. of the chili powder, which gave the pudding a definite heat, more than I would have probably done on purpose. I probably wouldn’t do that again. I taste tested the spiciness with the dry ingredients and 1/4 tsp chili powder and couldn’t even notice the chili. So I added another 1/4 tsp, and it seemed just right. However, the spiciness seems to have intensified with each step of the process. It was about perfect while the pudding was warm, it’s a bit spicier than I’d pick now that it’s cooled. But, that means it’s going to pair perfectly with some nice cool, mild, fresh whipped cream – or that tapioca pudding…. Oh, and the amount will also vary by the type of chili powder that you use. I have some Ancho chili powder that is more mild and “regular” chili powder is even more mild.
Mexican Dark Chocolate Pudding
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutched)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8-1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp. mace
1 cup heavy cream
1½ cups whole milk (I used 1% and it worked fine)
1 egg, beaten (optional)
2 TBS. brandy (optional)
2 Tbsp. butter (optional)
8 oz. (about 1¼ cups) chopped semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are fine)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Put the cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, spices and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk the ingredients together thoroughly, making sure no cornstarch or cocoa-powder lumps remain. Whisk in the cream and milk, a little bit at a time until cocoa mixture is smoothly incorporated.
2. Heat over medium-low heat, whisking steadily and scraping the sides of the pan occasionally. When warm (but before the pudding comes to a boil), whisk in the egg, the brandy, the butter, and the chopped chocolate. Increase the heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring until the butter and chocolate have melted and dissolved into the mixture.
3. When the pudding has come to a low boil and begun to thicken, remove from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla extract and pour the pudding into dessert dishes or a single large bowl.
4. You can let the pudding cool slowly on the countertop and serve it soft and warm, if you like. If you prefer to serve it firm and chilled, cover the pudding with plastic wrap (stretched taut if you like skin on your pudding, or pressed gently into the surface of the pudding if you don’t) and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes to an hour.
5. Serve garnished with freshly whipped cream and grated semisweet chocolate, if you like.