This comforting, silky pudding takes me back to my childhood. It’s incredibly quick and easy to whip up and delivers instant satisfaction. I used to make it for my children when they felt under the weather because its cooling, creamy deliciousness belies the fact that it contains several highly nutritious ingredients: eggs, milk (I often use homemade almond milk & cream) and polyphenol-rich cacao powder (and surprisingly little sugar).
The one drawback of cooked puddings can be the skin that forms on the surface as they cool. Some people love this, but many don’t.
According to Cook’s Illustrated, “a thin, dry ‘skin’ forms on the surface of puddings because as the mixture is heated, water evaporates, and proteins and sugar become more concentrated. This results in a dry barrier on the liquid’s surface. You can prevent the skin from forming during cooking by stirring, but what about afterward?
“The most common method is to press parchment paper onto the surface, which prevents evaporation. But this approach can be messy and fussy, particularly when dealing with individual portions in cups or ramekins.” (Umm, yeah – I discovered this during a webinar at which I demonstrated these; the little parchment discs kept curling off the hot pudding…)
The Cook’s Illustrated article continues: “We came up with a simpler way: We let the mixture sit until a skin had formed, passed it through a fine-mesh strainer, and then portioned the pudding and refrigerated it until serving time. The strainer broke up the clumped proteins and sugar, returning the posset to a smooth consistency throughout. … After cooking, simply let the pudding or custard cool until a skin forms, about 20 minutes, and then pour it through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl. Portion it, and then refrigerate the portions, uncovered, until cool. Cover the cooled portions with plastic wrap (no need to press it onto the surface of the pudding) until serving time.” (After straining the pudding I usually refrigerate it in a tightly sealed glass food storage container from which I serve it as needed, rather than cluttering up my fridge with eight foil-covered ramekins.)
Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding
- ⅓ cup sugar or low-glycemic sweetener allulose
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder unsweetened
- 3 tbsp corn or potato starch
- a pinch of salt
- 2½ cups milk whole dairy milk or plant milk; I sometimes use my Super-Simple Homemade Nut Milk
- ½ cup heavy cream or nut cream to make nut cream, blend ¼ cup of your preferred nut butter (I have used Trader Joe’s Mixed Nut Butter and JOI Almond Milk Base for this recipe and both tasted great) in a blender with ½ cup water and process into a thick cream roughly the same consistency as heavy cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract preferably alcohol-free; I like Trader Joe's
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt.
- Add milk and cream (or nut milk & nut cream), whisking to combine. Add the egg, and whisk until the mixture is well combined.
- Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble, about 6-7 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and continue whisking for 1 minute more.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla until fully incorporated.
- Let cool until a skin forms; pass the pudding through a fine-meshed strainer and into a bowl or food storage container. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours (or up to overnight) to fully set.
- Serve as-is or topped with whipped cream, nuts, berries, orange zest or anything else you enjoy on a pudding.
- Frefrigerated in a tightly covered container this pudding keeps for 4-5 days.