best chocolate pudding

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Silky Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from John Scharffenberger, via Wednesday Chef

Updated 10/22/13: It had been way too long since I’d made this (shame on me!) but when I did last night, I remembered how easy it was, and decided this recipe was overdue for some streamlining. As so many of you informed me, a double-boiler is not necessary and in fact makes the pudding take forever. When you remove that process, this becomes even more of a cinch (one pot, four ingredients plus vanilla and salt), and deserves to go in your regular rotation. For the “kids.” ;)

New note 12/1/13: Replacing one ounce of the semisweet chocolate with unsweetened chocolate gave this a fantastic extra chocolate oomph/slight extra bittersweet boost. We’re going to make it this way going forward. And another note 10/13/14 because I can’t stop fidgeting over this recipe: Dropping the sugar to 1/3 cup but using all semi- or bittersweet chocolate gives the pudding a real intense chocolate gravitas, too, plus more of a grownup-level sweetness.

Serves 6 to 7

1/4 cup (30 grams) cornstarch
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups (710 ml) whole milk
6 ounces (170 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or 1 cup good chocolate chips)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract

Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan, Slowly whisk in the milk, in a thin steam at first so that lumps don’t form, then more quickly once the cornstarch mixture is smoothly incorporated. Place over medium-low heat and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form. After 10 minutes or so (slower over lower heat is better, to give the cornstarch time to cook), before it starts to simmer, the mixture should begin to thicken, enough that it will coat the back of a spoon. Add the chocolate, and continue stirring for another 2 to 4 minutes, until chocolate is fully incorporated and mixture is quite thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

If you’re concerned about lumps: Run mixture through a fine-mesh strainer.

Distribute among individual pudding cups or one large serving bowl, and chill until it is cool and set, about 2 to 3 hours.

If you dislike pudding skin: Put plastic on top of the pudding and smooth it gently against the surface before refrigerating.

Do ahead: Pudding is good for 3 days in the fridge but nobody I know would allow it to last that long.

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