Creamy Mexican Pudding

Published September 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.

Why this recipe works:

Homemade chocolate pudding often suffers from either lackluster chocolate flavor, caused by a dearth of chocolate, or a grainy texture, caused by too much cocoa butter. We found that using a moderate amount of bittersweet chocolate in combination with unsweetened cocoa and espresso powder… read more

Homemade chocolate pudding often suffers from either lackluster chocolate flavor, caused by a dearth of chocolate, or a grainy texture, caused by too much cocoa butter. We found that using a moderate amount of bittersweet chocolate in combination with unsweetened cocoa and espresso powder helped us achieve maximum chocolate flavor. For thickening, cornstarch proved the right choice, and using mostly milk and just half a cup of heavy cream, along with three egg yolks, ensured that our pudding had a silky smooth texture. Salt and vanilla enhanced the chocolate flavor even more.

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Serves 6

We recommend using one of our favorite dark chocolates-Callebaut Intense Dark Chocolate, L-60-40NV, or Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar. If you like, garnish the pudding with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

Instructions

  1. 1. Stir together vanilla and espresso powder in bowl; set aside. Whisk sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cornstarch, and salt together in large saucepan. Whisk in yolks and cream until fully incorporated, making sure to scrape corners of saucepan. Whisk in milk until incorporated.

    2. Place saucepan over medium heat; cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbling over entire surface, 5 to 8 minutes. Cook 30 seconds longer, remove from heat, add butter and chocolate, and whisk until melted and fully incorporated. Whisk in vanilla mixture.

    3. Pour pudding through fine-mesh strainer into bowl. Press lightly greased parchment paper against surface of pudding, and place in refrigerator to cool, at least 4 hours. Whisk pudding briefly and serve.

Recipe Testing

The Gritty Truth about Cocoa Butter

As we developed our pudding recipe, we found that there was a limit to how much bittersweet chocolate we could add before the texture turned gritty- but that we could continue to add chocolate in the form of cocoa powder without affecting smoothness. Why should this be the case? The culprit in causing grittiness, it turns out, is cocoa butter- and solid chocolate has far more of it than cocoa powder. Chocolate is manufactured so that its fat remains solid at room temperature but literally melts in the mouth. But when melted chocolate is allowed to re-solidify, the crystalline structure of its cocoa butter is reorganized. It becomes more stable and melts at higher-than-body temperature. If present in high enough amounts, this more-stable form of cocoa butter can create the grainy mouthfeel we detected in the pudding.

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