Many months ago I wrote the draft of this post, when I was making pudding frequently for my husband. In the last week of his life he ate little else. Cancer and chemo had made meals a challenge, and toward the end, this was the best solution to the various food-related problems.
He needed the extra-extra nourishment that is in this rich chocolate confection. For him I added additional egg yolks, which you might do, too, if you are cooking for someone who is anemic, or who can’t eat much at one time, and needs the mega-nutrition that is in each bite. Unless someone doesn’t like chocolate, they will probably find it easy to eat.
Though it is a truly delicious dessert to serve to anyone — even the healthiest people! — I myself surely do not need super rich nutrition, and after my husband died I couldn’t imagine what might move me to cook it again.
I found my motivator recently when a friend was in the rehab hospital after a painfully tedious ordeal. On the phone I arranged to go visit her and asked, knowing that the institutional meals were likely to fall short of fully satisfying to the whole person, if I might bring her anything. She requested chocolate pudding, having in mind a prepared version from the grocery store. I wasn’t familiar with that sort anyway, but since I had become such an expert at this version, I immediately knew that I would make it for her.
It really is not difficult, and you don’t have to practice as much as I did to find that out. I had a good system going for laying out my ingredients and working through the steps quickly. One day I even produced two batches, one in the morning and one in the evening! Any other dessert I’ve ever made has been rare enough that I wasn’t comfortable and familiar with the process in a way that let me experience that flow. At the time, I might add, I was consoled and cheered by being able to create something that was pleasing and and useful, even though I knew that its powers were limited.
This recipe is special because of the dark chocolate bar that is mixed in at the end. Before that addition it is more of a milk chocolate experience. Considering the amount of chocolate in the final product, the sugar is at a minimum. For that reason I just at this moment decided to add “Dark” to the name. You might find similar recipes that have more butterfat and no egg yolk — I reject those in favor of versions that include that lovely and elegant food, the egg, which has such a vast nutritional gift to give.
Double Dark Chocolate Pudding
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (I like Ghirardelli)
1/4 cup cornstarch (or arrowroot)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks (or more)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped, plus shavings (85% or 90% Lindt is nice)
Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks.
Whisking constantly, heat over medium until you notice some thickening at the bottom of the pan, 5-10 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat; immediately pour through sieve into bowl. Add butter, vanilla, and chocolate; stir until smooth.
Divide among 4-6 small bowls and smooth the surface of each one with a swirl. Garnish with more dark chocolate shavings. Eat warm or cover and chill.
Other than adding more egg yolks for my husband, and using arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch, I didn’t make any changes to this recipe I found on Martha Stewart’s website.
My friend was quite happy with my gift. I brought enough for two servings, in a bag with some ice on the bottom, so she could eat half later. It was very comforting.