Valentine’s Day, that most sacred and special of spiritual observances, is nigh. So naturally we are looking for the most delicious and convenient method for transferring gobs of something into our foodholes. I submit for your consideration, the humble pudding:
What better expresses the sentiment of “love” than a giant bowlful of chocolate pudding? Easily carried around and thick enough to not spill while you rearrange your Snuggie during the “Ghost Whisperer” marathon, pudding is the answer to all of life’s problems. Fancy it up and top it with some delicious fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of crushed Tylenol PMs.
And there is NO need to settle for the “instant” variety. With just about as much work, you can whip up your own batch of gourmet homemade goodness. Also, you can put booze in it, which was not included in the terrifying list of ingredients in Snak Paks, last time I checked. It really is a breeze – I made this batch while getting screamed at on the phone by a crazy client AND having my pants clawed off by a crazy toddler. If I weren’t pregnant, I probably would have been drinking, too.
So here is my recipe for pudding. Yes, sticklers will notice that it is technically a custard and not a blancmange. For those of you who want something to discuss with your mother, a pudding (or blancmange) involves cream thickened with corn starch, custard is cream thickened with eggs, and a pastry cream is a hybrid of sorts — a custard base thickened with corn starch. There are also sub-distinctions involving heating/cooking methods, but we need not get into that here. Suffice it to say that usually I bake my custards in a bain marie, but not always. This pudding is one of the exceptions. So is zabaglione, another favorite of mine and fundamental part of tiramisu.
But I digress.
You can make regular old pudding with corn starch if you wish. Personally, I only like to bake with corn starch (i.e., shortbread) because I have this crazy belief that I can feel the cornstarch in creams and liquids. I also wanted wanted a pudding that I could cook on the stovetop so it would remain creamier and not develop a crust.
Anyhow, here is my recipe. You will not be able to taste the espresso – it just boosts the chocolate taste. You can substitute whatever kind of chocolate you want, though if you use white chocolate I would use a tad more vanilla and a bit less sugar. You can also use whatever additional flavoring you want – more espresso for mocha, almond is nice with milk chocolate, orange zest with bittersweet, cinnamon and cayenne, cardamom and pistachio, whatever.
MILK CHOCOLATE PUDDING
a Hussy Exclusive Recipe
8 oz good quality milk chocolate, either chips or broken into bits
1 c heavy cream
1 c whole milk
1 t powdered instant espresso
1/4 t salt
2 egg yolks
1 t vanilla extract
Add the cream, milk, and salt to a medium pot. Set over a medium high heat and stir until nearly boiling. Add the chocolate and espresso and whisk vigorously until it’s melted and the mixture is smooth and evenly combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks together. While continuously whisking egg yolks, VERY SLOWLY drizzle in about one cup of the hot chocolate mixture. Pour tempered egg mixture it back into the pot and quickly whisk together.
Whisking continuously, bring the pudding up to a full boil. Reduce to medium heat and continue whisking while allowing the pudding to boil for three minutes or until it thickens.
Remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the vanilla. Pour the pudding into a heat-proof bowl or ramekins or jam jars. Cover the pudding’s surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple hours until it’s set.
Top with fresh whipped cream and eat it all. Then lick the bowl and cry.