There’s a phrase used in the food press recently: aspirational cooking. This is what we wish our kitchens would produce, or what we might accomplish if we really try, or food that we only wish we could manage. Let’s get something straight here – I don’t aspire to cook the good stuff, I do cook the good stuff! And you can, too. Here’s a case in point: a simple old-fashoned silky chocolate pudding. There’s nothing fancy about it, and yet it’s silky-smooth, cool, soothing, devastatingly chocolatey … it’s a delight.
It requires nothing more than a saucepan, a whisk, and about 20 minutes at the stove. Isn’t this the kind of cooking we should aspire to? Simple, old-fashioned, rustic humble food.
That’s my kitchen philosophy: keep things simple. Make delicious food in simple ways, using local ingredients in season. Its time to rediscover the good stuff: cook humble food!
A note about ingredients
About the chocolate: I like to use a mixture of chocolates in this pudding: half semisweet at 62% cacao, and half a more assertive bittersweet at 70% cacao. Use what you have on hand, or try different chocolates and blends to find your favorite.
About the milk: this recipe is flexible and forgiving. I’ve used everything from part 2% milk and part whole, to all half-and-half, and it has tasted great every time. By preference, I’ll use all whole milk, but if your kitchen is dedicated to 2%, try 2 cups of 2% milk and 1 cup heavy cream for a rich result.
Silky Chocolate Pudding
- ¼ cup cornstarch (4 tbsp)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups whole milk, half-and-half, or a combination
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Break or chop the chocolate into smallish pieces, so that it will melt more quickly as the pudding cooks.
- Combine the cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a saucepan, and whisk it together. Gradually add about a third of the milk, whisking until smooth, then add in the rest of the milk and cream. Add the chopped chocolate, then put the saucepan over medium heat, and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. If any lumps form, whisk vigorously!
- Boil for exactly one minute. The mixture will thicken considerably. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla.
- Divide among 6 custard cups (or teacups or small bowls or whatever.) Some people do not enjoy any ‘skin’ on their pudding. If you dislike it, place plastic wrap right on top of the pudding and smooth it gently against the surface. Otherwise, just cover loosely and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, and up to 3 days (if it lasts that long!)