04 November 2009

Slinging hash: chocolate pudding

Sacha has become very interested in cooking lately. I'm glad to see him taking an interest, but alarmed whenever he pulls his chair in front of the lit stove and shouts, “CAN I HELP TOO?” I'm trying encourage him and keep him alive by making things he can help with without putting himself in mortal peril, that he'll actually want to eat, and don't make too much of a mess.

I'm sure you can guess which of these two of these criteria chocolate pudding satisfies. It's been said thousands of times that corn starch based puddings aren't any harder to make from scratch, and taste far better than a mix, but that doesn't make it any less true.

We've done this together a couple of times lately, and have a system worked out. I measure dry ingredients, and Sacha dumps, something he excels at. Then he helps me add the milk, and we argue about proper stirring technique. I suggest we go in a circle, and Sacha counters that we should go up and down, as if we were churning butter. And that's where it gets a bit messy, and I get a bit exasperated, and pull rank by taking the whisk away from him. 

But he makes up for it by amusing me with his taxonomy of dairy. I often use a combination of 1% milk and cream for pudding. As we pour the milk into the measuring cup, Sacha explains, “This is the milk.” Last time, I finished off the remainder of a pint of cream and opened a quart. “This is cream,” he said, and we poured from the pint. When I opened the quart, he declared, “And this is coffee milk.”

That's my boy.

Chocolate Pudding
adapted from Gourmet

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk, preferably whole, but 1 or 2% will work, as will a combination of milk and cream
4 oz chocolate chips

Whisk together cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, then boil, whisking, 2 minutes. The mixture will thicken as it cooks. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate chips and vanilla until smooth.

Pour pudding into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until cold, least two hours. If you are anti-pudding skin, press the wrap directly on the pudding.

Serve with whipped cream.

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