This time of year, dessert at my house doesn’t amount to much more than a bowlful of strawberries or slices of stonefruit. Maybe I’ll add a dollop of cream or some sandy (likely storebought) cookies on the side, but why bother fussing with candy-sweet, juicy spring fruit? It’s pretty perfect already.
So yes, fresh late-spring fruit is a beautiful thing, but there are just some days, friends, when only dark chocolate is gonna do the trick. (Those I need chocolate and I need it NOW days. You know the ones.) I’ve got lovely recipes for mousse and pôt de crème, all delicious, but after one batch I doubt I’ll ever stray from Alice Medrich’s lush chocolate pudding recipe. This childhood favorite isn’t much more trouble to prepare than the Cosby-sweatered box variety (mix all together on the stove, pour into containers, chill) but with the dark depth of bittersweet chocolate and just the right note of sweetness, Alice’s recipe yields a rich, grownup flavor and creamy, spoonable texture that’s worthy of any dinner party or epic chocolate craving.
adapted from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich, 2012; serves 6
- 1/3 C granulated sugar
- 1/3 C cocoa, either natural or Dutch-processed
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 C whole milk
- 1/4 C heavy cream
- 3 oz bittersweet chocolate (about 65-70% cacao), finely chopped
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the first four ingredients. Whisk in the cream to make a thick paste. Add the remaining milk. Warm over medium heat, stirring constantly with a (heat-proof) spatula or wooden spoon and paying extra attention to the corners and sides of the pot to avoid scorching the mixture. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble at the edges, about five minutes total.
Stir in the finely chopped chocolate until melted and smooth, about 30 seconds or so. (You may want to switch back to the whisk.) Take off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Divide the pudding among individual ramekins (I used 4-oz sized) or pretty demitasse cups. Cover each ramekin with a small square of plastic wrap, pressing into the pudding to keep a skin from forming. Chill at least one hour, or up to three days. Serve with lightly whipped cream.
Note: if your chocolate has a cacao percentage closer to 60%, use an additional ounce (4 oz total). Purchase a half-pint of whipped cream and you’ll have enough for the recipe and a batch of whipped cream to serve on the side.