This has been an exciting week for my family. On Monday, my (baby) sister announced to the public (ahem, Facebook) that she and her husband are expecting their first child in August. Happy day! I am a very excited auntie-to-be. VERY. I remember K as a baby; she was born when I was old enough to be trusted to watch over the baby, young enough to play games pretending she was mine. I would sing to her and tell her stories, teach her in my “classroom”, make blueberry pie for her in my tiny play kitchen. Watching her become a mother is awe-inspiring, indescribable and somewhat surreal. I learned about her pregnancy on December 10, 2012 and haven’t stopped buzzing since then, haven’t stopped planning and smiling and crying and being happy. It took every ounce of my willpower not to tell everyone the happy news until now. This is an extra big deal: their first is also the first grandchild for my very ready parents, who have been patiently responding to years of “How many grandchildren do you have?” by talking about my cats, my pup and K’s animals. Though Mom has been an excellent honorary Grammie to several of my friends’ children, it is time she had a grandchild of her own to dote on. My brothers are excited as I am. Bravo, K & R! We impatiently await this precious baby.
Poor K has been miserably sick during the early stages of her pregnancy. Being mindful of what she should/shouldn’t eat, what is good for the baby, etc. meant that she barely ate for weeks. Finally, her doctor told her to eat whatever she was hungry for (for the most part)– calories were more important than a balanced diet. And so the Waffles & Pudding diet began. If she and I were in the same state, I would drive to her house every night with a bowlful of this chocolate pudding, a family recipe we both love a lot. It is the perfect recipe: creamy, dark, quick to make and so satisfying. I made some a few weeks ago when our friends came for dinner and the four of us could have eaten three bowls apiece, I swear. Because it is so thick and rich, this is also the recipe my Mom, K and I use for chocolate pie at Thanksgiving; just blind bake a 9″ pie shell, traditional or graham cracker, pour in the pudding while warm, and allow to set. This may be the best multi-use recipe I have ever posted.
So, please join me in raising your pudding cups to my darling Kalshtirefrine and her thoughtful, smart Peach Pie– I am proud of you and determined to be the best aunt EVER to your child. Drum sets for Christmas, countless snuggles, nests for days, tonics when necessary and pudding for dinner, every night.
Best Ever Dark Chocolate Pudding (serves 4-6)
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 1/3 c. flour
- 1/2 c. cocoa powder, the darkest you can find (I like Hershey’s Special Dark)
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
- 2 c. whole milk
- 2 slightly beaten large eggs
- 2 T. butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla
In a large saucepan, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon, if using. (Use it; it’s not enough to be a strong flavor, but it gives the most perfect subtle taste to your pudding.) Pour just a few tablespoons of milk, maybe 1/4 c., into the dry ingredients and whisk until you have a smooth, un-lumpy paste. Take the time to get all the lumps out now; it gets more challenging once you add the rest of the milk. This is also a good time to prepare your eggs; you’ll want them nearby and ready.
When you have a smooth chocolate mixture, slowly whisk in the rest of the milk and set the pan over medium heat. (If you are worried about burning, you can use a double boiler, but I have never had trouble because this recipe cooks up quickly.) Continue whisking constantly until the pudding begins to thicken noticeably and bubble– think La Brea tar pits, not a hard boil. For me, it takes about 5-7 mins. to reach this stage.
Now for the only “hard” part: you will need to temper the eggs. Remove the pan from the heat and grab a helper if you want, or just go slow. Get a large spoon or ladle and have your eggs ready. While one hand (or your helper) whisks the eggs constantly, drizzle a steady stream of the hot chocolate into the eggs, about 1/4 c. or so. You want to heat up the eggs (temper) so they don’t scramble when you add them to the pan. (The chocolaty eggs should look light brown and be smooth– if you see, or fear, any bits of scramble in them, push the mixture through a sieve before continuing.) Now, whisk the chocolate mixture in the pan constantly while you steadily stream in the warmed up, chocolaty egg mixture. There! You have tempered your eggs. Congratulations.
Return the pan to medium-low heat and cook for 2-3 mins., stirring constantly to avoid burning. Remove from the heat for good this time and add the butter and vanilla; stir until the butter is melted and you have a lovely bowl of pudding. While it’s warm, transfer to small pudding cups, ramekins or bowls, or pour into your waiting pie crust if you’re doing that. Cool to room temperature and serve with a dollop of whipped cream if you like.