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Simple homemade chocolate pudding a classic perfect for holidays

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is often a blur of lights, sugar and parties. But at some point during the days of turning out cookie dough and shaking up wintery cocktails, I think you should slow down and make chocolate pudding.

Pudding is a classic dessert, but when did you last make it? I find it quite elegant in its simplicity, and it's appropriate for special occasions. Just right for December. An old-fashioned dessert for the most nostalgic time of the year.

Chocolate pudding is silky, rich, and something you can spoon into a small bowl and eat on the couch while watching your favorite Christmas movie, whether it's Love Actually or Die Hard.

This dessert offers a welcome departure from sugary holiday cookies and grants you a chance to casually stir something by the warm stove. Sometimes it feels good just to stir something.

Best of all, this is an easy dessert. There's really no reason to make pudding from a box. All we're really doing is stirring milk, cream and chocolate until it submits to the heat and thickens. The results are worth it.

It's a short ingredient list for this recipe, so I suggest using the best quality chocolate you can get your hands on. To match the smooth and rich taste of this pudding, real vanilla beans seem like a better match than store-bought vanilla extract, but you could use either.

To kick things up a notch, garnish the pudding with toasted nuts or flaky sea salt. Feeling decadent? Whip some cream and spoon it on top. Most recently I served the pudding in coffee cups with a bit of flaky sea salt.

This time of year goes by fast with layered cakes and everything cinnamon, but remember the simple desserts, too.

Make room for pudding.

Ileana Morales is a writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with boyfriend Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Times. For more kitchen adventures, visit her blog, alittlesaffron.com. She can be reached at alittlesaffron@gmail.com.

>>EASY

Silky Chocolate Pudding

¼ cup cornstarch

½ cup sugar

teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, added in with the chocolate)

3 cups whole milk (I subbed in 1 cup of heavy cream and all was well)

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a large heat-proof bowl. Use a small sharp knife to split the vanilla bean lengthwise, then use the dull side of the blade to scrape out the vanilla beans. Stir the vanilla beans and the pods in with the cornstarch mixture. Slowly stir in the milk with a heatproof spatula until the ingredients are incorporated.

For a makeshift double boiler, place the bowl over a medium pot of gently simmering water and stir occasionally. After 15 to 20 minutes, everything changes. The pudding thickens, and when it coats the back of a spoon (or your spatula), remove the spent vanilla bean pods and stir in the chocolate. Keep stirring until the pudding is smooth and slightly thickened, about

2 to 4 minutes.

Remove from heat and pour pudding into a measuring cup with a spout. Pour the pudding into individual ramekins or coffee cups. You're supposed to strain the pudding through a fine-mesh strainer to get rid of any lumps, but I decided this was one extra step I didn't need between me and chocolate pudding. Cover each container of pudding with plastic wrap, making sure to smooth it gently against the surface of the pudding if you've got something against pudding skin. Place the pudding in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.

Serves 6.

Source: Adapted from SmittenKitchen.com and TheWednesdayChef.com

Simple homemade chocolate pudding a classic perfect for holidays 12/02/13 [Last modified: Monday, December 2, 2013 10:26pm]
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