Chocolate Pudding

Oh, pudding. Delicious, chocolate pudding. Why have I never made you before?

Apparently, there are a lot of different ways to make pudding. Some use eggs; some don’t. Some cook on the stovetop; others in the oven. It seems I chose one of the more involved recipes (which I picked in order to use up the egg yolks leftover from making macaroons), and I still found it to be incredibly simple. The only thing mildly intimidating about this is that it requires the use of a water bath when baking. Don’t be afraid—they’re not complicated! (Especially if you have tips from someone who has experienced a water bath disaster before, like me.)

The key to making your pudding delicious is to use high-quality chocolate. I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate. It was yummy, but I thought there was potential for more yumminess. I’m not sure if that’s because I don’t like Ghirardelli or because I prefer a semi-sweet pudding, but I will try semi-sweet the next time.

Chocolate Pudding

(from Gourmet via Epicurious)

  • half a vanilla bean (I used a whole one because mine are rather thin)
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 4 1/2 oz of bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 5 large egg yolks

Preheat oven to 275°. Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water and set aside. Cut open vanilla bean and scrape out caviar into a heavy saucepan. Add pod, milk, heavy cream, and sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves and mixture has just begun to boil. Add chocolate and whisk over medium-high heat, until chocolate has melted and mixture just returns to a boil. Remove from heat.

Pour mixture into a metal bowl and place in your prepared ice bath. Let cool for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture has reached room temperature. Whisk in yolks, then pour through a fine mesh sieve. (You may think you could just fish out the pod and skip straining the mixture, but you’d be surprised how much egg gunk that sieve will catch. Guuh, egg gunk.) Don’t just throw that vanilla bean pod out! You can rinse it off, let it dry, and save it for making vanilla sugar. (I haven’t actually made vanilla sugar yet, and I’m not even really sure what it is, but it sounds delicious.)

Divide mixture into six 4-oz ramekins (I only had four ramekins and one mini casserole dish, which worked out fine). And now, it’s water bath time! (Also known as a bain marie, if you’re feeling fancy.) Okay, here’s the science behind a water bath: By placing one container (what you are baking) inside a larger container filled with hot water, the contents of the smaller container bake at an even temperature, preventing boiling, scorching, or cracking. This is the method used to make cheesecake, custard, dulce de leche, and is the same science used for melting chocolate in a double boiler (as well as many other things). In this case, you are going to want a pan that is large enough to hold all of your ramekins and deep enough for water to come halfway up the sides. A roasting pan is perfect for this. If you don’t own one, one of those large, disposable roasting pans you can purchase at the grocery store will work fine as well.

Now, the important part: wrap your ramekins in tinfoil that will extend well above the top of the dish, to ensure that no water gets into your pudding while it bakes. The first time I used a water bath, I didn’t do this, and I ended up with watery flan. If you’re making something that requires a water bath, it should specify whether you should add room temperature or hot water to the pan. This recipe didn’t, so I just heated the water a bit and it worked out fine. Carefully add the water to your pan until it reaches halfway up sides of the ramekins. Bake around 1 hour, until pudding edges are set but centers still wobble slightly when shaken.

Leave puddings in the water bath and let them cool for 1 hour. Remove from the bath and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. (A note: when left uncovered, skin will form on top of the pudding. Some people love this; I can’t stand it. If you’re like me, cover them with saran wrap, which will keep skin from forming.) Enjoy!

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