I like serving pudding as a dessert, since there is something so particularly low-fuss about it. Whereas most desserts feel quite heavy after a solid meal, with pudding you control the amount of richness by choosing your milk product: anything from skim milk to coconut milk to cream will work. Though I’m a chocoholic by nature, I really do prefer vanilla pudding, and the layer of chocolate in these is actually a ganache rather than a pudding. The reason for it, besides pleasing the chocolate-lovers at the same time as their rivals, the vanillas, is that I was making these pudding cups on the very same jetlagged day as I made the vegetable soup of yesterday’s post. I was doing anything and everything to stay awake, and if it meant making complicated pudding cups, then so be it, I figured.
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
I made this pudding dairy-free, since I was making it for Alex, who’s lactose intolerant. I used soy creamer in the ganache, and a mix of soy creamer and almond milk in the pudding. The recipe below is how I usually make this pudding, when I’m serving dairy eaters. It takes really well to substitution.
Equipment: Four small ramekins, preferably glass
For the ganache:
2.5 ounces good dark chocolate
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 cup cream or soy creamer
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
For the vanilla pudding:
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups milk, almond milk, half and half, or a mixture thereof
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cut the chocolate very finely and put it into a bowl with the espresso powder. Heat the cream in the microwave until nearly boiling. It should be very hot to the touch. Pour it over the chocolate and let sit for 3 minutes, then stir vigorously with a spoon until the mixture is very smooth and creamy. Add the salt and vanilla, and stir to mix. Scrape the ganache out of the bowl and distribute it evenly among the ramekins. Refrigerate until set, about an hour.
Combine the cornstarch, sugar, salt, and about 1/2 cup of milk in a saucepan. Whisk until all lumps are gone, then add the rest of the milk or half and half. Stirconstantly but mellowly over medium heat until the mixture thickens, about five minutes. When you can make out the wake of your spoon, lower the heat and keep stirring until the pudding begins to simmer around the edges. When it does, leave it simmering for another minute without touching it.
Then scoop up about a cup of the thickened pudding and add it, 1/3 at a time, to the egg yolk/vanilla mixture, stirring constantly but still not vigorously. Remove the pudding from the heat, and slowly pour the egg-pudding mixture back into the pan, gently folding it in – don’t beat it now or you risk thinning the pudding out.
Divide equally among the ganache-lined custard cups. Refrigerate until dessert time. Garnish with chocolate shavings or a few roasted almonds.