When I am at the health food store (which is actually my local grocery) I can’t resist buying those chocolate bars that claim they are made of World Peace. You know the ones I mean — they have photos of natives, sustainably harvesting cocoa beans while being embraced by hippy-looking white ladies with dreadlock extensions while panda bears look on, beaming, avoiding extinction because YOU are purchasing this overpriced chocolate!
OK. Maybe I’m exaggerating. A tiny bit. But my grocery does carry a line of paper products with the whiny brand name “If You Care.” I’m not going to lie. I do buy their coffee filters. Not because I care though! Because it’s the only kind of filters they sell at this store.
The chocolate from the caring folk is always too bitter for me to eat much of (that’s my point, you knew there was one) and it builds up in my cupboard, aging quietly in baggies, turning to chalky white dust while I scarf everything else around it. Tonight, I came up with a solution. The weather is frigid and I have recently received the Best Gift Ever from France (via Fort Lee, NJ) — the gift of whipped cream in a can with Madagascar Vanilla added from Isigny Ste-Mère.
What could be more delicious than a dark chocolate pudding with some of that succulent crème chantilly on top? The perfect way to turn those politically-correct bittersweet chocolate bars to good use. I tend to buy the bars with something added (mint, in this case) and therefore I made it into a mint-flavored pudding. Even if you have one with bits of quinoa or something (yes, they make that), don’t hesitate to pudding it anyway. You could always strain it afterwards or just eat it anyway with the bits left in. I’m not afraid of lumps in my pudding and you shouldn’t be either.
Pudding recipes on line are overwrought. People act like pudding is some big deal — recommending you use a double boiler, strain the pudding afterwards, and so on. None of this is necessary. Pudding is a one pot dish — straight to the bowl you will eat it out of. It requires you to stand there whisking it for about 10 minutes and then be patient while it chills in the fridge for a bit. Or not. Eat it right out of the pot and skip the freaking bowl/fridge step. It’s delicious hot.
Silky, Easy One-Pot Chocolate Pudding (serves one glutton — double or triple the recipe as necessary for guests)
I adapted this from Scharffen Berger, even though I think their version is too fussy.
3.5 oz. dark chocolate (that’s one bar of the good stuff — break it into pieces first)
1 1/2 cups of milk (I used 1% that was lactose-free — and because good dark chocolate rarely has any dairy, my recipe was also lactose-free. Whole milk would be better, no matter what kind)
1/8 cup of cornstarch
1/2 cup of sugar (I use superfine kind and I think it dissolves faster)
A pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla — or mint extract if making a mint pudding or Triple Sec if doing orange, you get the idea
Add the cornstarch, salt, sugar and milk to your pot and whisk continuously on a medium/low heat until it thickens. Once it has thickened (people talk about coating the back of a spoon, but you can see when it is getting thick on you), start adding sections of the chocolate. Keep whisking, careful not to let it burn (chocolate will do that), until all of the chocolate has melted and the mixture is silky smooth. Remove from heat. At this point, you can add your extract or flavoring. I was using a mint chocolate bar to begin with, so my pudding is already minty and I skipped the vanilla, not wanting a conflict.
Pour the pudding into a bowl (or bowls — this is a very generous serving for one!) and apply plastic wrap to the bowl before refrigerating, touching the top of the pudding if you hate skin. If you like skin to form on your pudding, don’t let the plastic wrap touch the pudding.
Silky, Easy Chocolate Pudding: Download the recipe here.
Serve with crème chantilly from Isigny Ste.-Mere (check Whole Foods near you). Unless you are keepin’ it lactose-free. Oh why can’t somebody make a decent lactose-free whipped cream? Not loving the soy substitutes on the market.