After almost three years of graduate school, I was delighted to discover that our science library has a huge cookbook collection! One of the first books I checked out was The Essence of Chocolate, a book put out by Scharffen Berger chocolates, one of my most favorite brands of chocolate (though I have to admit that I used Ghirardelli in this recipe because it's what I had on hand!). This pudding is really easy to make and delightfully delicious. The texture is silky smooth, as the name implies, and the flavor is intense and chocolate-y. Some cacao nibs sprinkled on top add some nice texture, but the pudding is equally delicious served plain. The original recipe added vanilla at the end; I forgot, but the pudding was still fantastic so add some as you wish.
Since it's so chocolate-y and rich, this would be a perfect dessert for Valentine's Day, though it's simple enough to make anytime and not so rich that it needs to be saved for a special occasion. In a moment of inspiration, I also discovered that it's a pretty amazing ice cream topping as well. Yum!
Silky Chocolate Pudding (adapted from The Essence of Chocolateby John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg)
2 T cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate (or a combination of semisweet and bittersweet chocolate)
Cacao nibs, to serve (optional)
1. Whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, and salt in the top of a double boiler. Slowly whisk in the milk a little bit at a time to avoid forming lumps.
2. Place the mixture over a pan of simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. After 15-20 minutes, when the pudding begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon, add the chocolate. Continue whisking for 2-4 minutes until the pudding is smooth and thickened.
3. Strain the pudding into a bowl. Serve warm, or cover with plastic wrap (making sure that the plastic wrap touches the top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming) and chill 30 minutes or up to 3 days. The pudding is delicious plain or with some cacao nibs sprinkled on top.