Fine Cooking (February/March 2015)
Months and months ago, while on a trip to New York City, we dropped into Buvette for dinner.
The meal itself, enjoyed at a cramped but cozy little table, was lovely. But we were especially enamored with dessert: Buvette's decadent chocolate mousse.
It's the kind of dessert we dream about: rich and dark, piled high into a serving dish, with two spoons ready to do some serious damage. We've since made Buvette's chocolate mousse at home, although we've neglected to photograph it so we haven't yet shared it here.
That mousse came to mind while reading the latest Fine Cooking. The current issue features this pudding in its "Repertoire" column, which every month introduces a basic template recipe that's good to have in one's back pocket. This isn't the rich, dreamy mousse from Buvette, but rather a more straightforward chocolate dessert that's closer to pudding you might remember from childhood.
Well, our back pockets are never quite full enough (along with our bellies), so we jumped into our first homemade chocolate pudding attempt.
Making pudding is not difficult; it just takes a bit of time. There's a mixing stage (dry ingredients + cream + eggs), a stage in which you heat the milk and sugar and combine with dry ingredient mixture, and then a point when you boil it, whisk it and then let it cool in the refrigerator. You need at least a two hours to pull the whole thing off (mostly due to the cooling time).
Tucked inside these steps are lots of great tips (which are outlined below). As guys who read a lot of recipes, we think this one, by The Kitchn editor Faith Durand, is especially well written. It has more than enough detail for even a novice cook, but also a few tips included that you can file away for other pudding-making adventures.
We made our version of this pudding with natural cocoa powder, which gave it a milk chocolate finish. (Dutch process would give you a slightly darker taste.) The end result was perfect: creamy, smooth, and -- as promised -- silky.
1-1/2 oz. (6 Tbs.) cocoa powder (Dutch process or natural)
1 oz. (3 Tbs.) cornstarch
1/4 tsp. table salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Sift the cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt into a medium bowl. With a silicone spatula or whisk, slowly mix in the cream, eliminating any visible lumps as you go; the mixture will be quite thick. Mix in the egg yolks until combined. Set aside.
Heat the milk and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, until the sugar dissolves. When bubbles form around the edge of the milk, remove the pan from the heat. Whisk about half of the hot milk into the cocoa mixture. When smooth, whisk it into the milk remaining in the saucepan.
Bring the pudding to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking slowly and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching. The pudding will begin to thicken as it approaches a full boil. Watch for large, lava-like bubbles to roll up to the surface, and for small fast bubbles on the edges. When the pudding has reached this stage, turn the heat down to medium and whisk vigorously for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
Whisk in the vanilla. Transfer the pudding to a shallow container (such as an 8-inch baking dish) and spread it evenly, then press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
Whisk vigorously to loosen the pudding before serving.
Mocha Pudding: Add 2 tsp. instant espresso powder to the pudding when you add the vanilla.
Boozy Chocolate Pudding: Instead of the vanilla, stir in 2 Tbs. of your favorite spirit, such as bourbon, brandy, or Scotch.