Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Cool and Creamy Chocolate Pudding
I was at work late last night, working on a writing project with a deadline. I’ll be pulling late nights all this week. When I got home, I had to have “something.” It was about 11:00 p.m. and there was not one sweet thing in my house other than a box of Craisins, and that wasn’t going to do it. I wanted chocolate. I’m on a chocolate bend lately (as you can tell by my recent chocolate cake posting). Well, the cake was long-gone and I stood with the refrigerator door open thinking I’d find something that clearly wasn’t there. Pudding. I wanted chocolate pudding. I checked my cabinets – no, no pudding mixes. But I don’t like pudding mixes. I like the real deal—cooked and stirred and smooth as silk. How hard could it be? What’s in pudding besides cocoa, cornstarch, sugar, and milk? I can figure it out. I have no internet right now and my cookbooks are all still (ugh) packed in the basement. So I gambled and combined the above ingredients in estimated proportions and cooked them up to a smooth, creamy, incredible chocolate pudding! I poured it into a bowl and laid plastic wrap on top to avoid a skin forming. But I couldn’t wait. I spooned a bit of the still-steaming pudding into a small, white coffee cup and admired the simple beauty of it. I thought, “I should take a picture of this” because it looked like something out of a food advertisement: smooth, shiny, lightly mounded to a peak (but I still haven’t replaced my camera that was stolen in July)… The visual was almost enough to satisfy me, and it was late and I’d already brushed my teeth, but I went for it. It was perfection. No whipped cream, just pudding, and it was exactly right.
You should know that chocolate pudding and I have history. When my kids were young, I’d stay up late, long after everyone was asleep. After picking up the house and folding my fourth basket of laundry, I’d make a small pot of cooked chocolate pudding (mix) and was so anxious to have it that I put the bowl of cooked pudding in a larger bowl of ice water to cool it off so I could eat it without burning my mouth! This was during the period of time when my marriage had seen better days and things were getting worse, and I was looking (apparently) to fill an emotional void. I’ve never been one to use food as compensation for relationships. (My extra baggage is due exclusively to a love of food and an apparently hibernating commitment to regular exercise.) And this pudding had no such responsibility. It was just there to provide a little bit of comfort when a whole lot of comfort was what I needed.
Last night’s pudding was better than any I remember having. In the very early 70s, Birdseye made a frozen line of puddings called “Cool and Creamy” and when I ask, no one seems to remember it, which surprises me because it was amazing! It came in a Cool Whip-type container and after it was thawed, it was so smooth and cold and delicious. I was still a kid and not buying groceries at the time, which is a good thing because I’d have filled a cart with nothing but Cool and Creamy!
Here’s my recipe for Cool and Creamy Chocolate Pudding, named in honor of the one I remember from 1970, and best made at 11:00 p.m!
Cool and Creamy Chocolate Pudding
½ cup cocoa
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
Mix all these together in a hefty saucepan.
Pour in 3 cups milk and whisk constantly over a medium flame until the mixture starts to bubble. Once big bubbles break the surface, turn off the heat and add 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. I also added two tablespoons coffee from the pot, but that’s not necessary.
Whisk again like crazy and pour into a serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap to avoid a skin forming. Cool and refrigerate, or take a spoonful right away and risk burning your mouth!
Photo credit: http://thelunacafe.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/chocolate-pudding-in-glass-with-whip-2.jpg