homemade chocolate pudding

Well, it’s official: snow has come to Chicagoland. We haven’t been hit the hardest (not like Madison or Southern Utah or, gosh, poor Minneapolis), and we’re starting much later than usual (remember last year’s October snowfall?), but we have begun what will probably be a months-long relationship with icy roads and longer commutes, one every Chicagoan is familiar with, one I am sorry to say you will probably hear about here again.

Yesterday, in a fit of there-must-be-a-new-way-of-seeing-stuff-like-snowstorms, I Googled “reasons to like snow” and this is what I found: activities—things like sledding, making snowmen, making snowangels, skiing, tubing, getting days off school. However, this only compounded the problem, particularly that bit about getting snow days, because, when you no longer get weather-provoked time off and when the only daylight that you can claim as your own lies in your morning commute and Saturdays and Sundays, snow angels and sledding don’t seem to find their way into your winter routine.

pudding with spoon

But maybe there are other things. My friend Jacqui said there’s something beautiful about the silence snow creates, the way it insulates the buildings and roads and cars and makes the world a little more magical, quiet and serene. I guess that’s true. And someone wrote here that winter in general gives us the gift of pushing us inside, towards people we love, the heat in the house, the warmth of the stove. That’s true, too.

I need these reminders because let me tell you, when you’re gripping the steering wheel and crawling along the highway, spending what feels like much more time on the road than doing anything else, it’s good to have something warm and comforting to drive home to. Like homemade chocolate pudding, for example.

pudding

Chocolate pudding is one of my earliest comfort foods. In a pinch, my mom and I love the packaged Jell-O Cook N’ Serve that is a simple as combining with milk and heating on the stove: hot and smooth and chocolatey. But when you have a little more time—and, let’s be honest, you’ll be stuck at home at least once this winter, at least if you’re from around here—this recipe is the one to try. It is perfection.


chocolate puddings

What started as an attempt to use leftover egg yolks one night a few weeks ago became this pudding: a discovery of just how incredibly delicious and addicting ooey-gooey, hot, chocolate pudding can be. While it bakes in the oven, it develops an almost crust above its custard-like interior, the kind you break when you dip your spoon inside. It is sweet, satisfying and, seriously, I dare you to eat just one. As soon as I tasted it, I never looked back—well, except to remember and want to make it again, which is exactly what I did last night. I hope you will, too.



Have a Question to Ask? I’m thinking of doing a Q & A here on the blog next week, where I can answer any questions you guys have—about the blog, about me, about whatever you want. Now is your chance! If it’s appropriate, I’ll try to answer it publicly. Sound good? Just e-mail me or comment here!


Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from NPR: All Things Considered, where it was reprinted with permission from Recipes from Home, by David Page and Barbara Shinn (Artisan Books, 2001).

Ingredients:
4 cups heavy cream
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large heavy saucepan (I used my Le Creuset), bring the heavy cream to a simmer and remove from heat.

Place the chocolate chips in a large stainless-steel bowl, and add 1 cup of the warm cream; let stand until the chocolate is melted. Stir the chocolate mixture until it is smooth; then stir in the remaining cream.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and salt. Gradually add the chocolate mixture to this, whisking it all together. Strain the combined mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and skim off the froth on the top (I didn’t really have any froth, so don’t worry if you don’t either).

Pour the pudding into eight 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins*, filling each about three-quarters of the way full. Place them in a deep baking pan and put the pan in the oven (I also set the pan on a baking sheet to make it easier to take in and out). Add enough hot water to the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins, then cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake the puddings for about 50 minutes to an hour. When gently shaken, they should look set around the edges but not quite set in a quarter-size area at the center.

Remove the ramekins from the water bath, and you may eat the puddings hot (the way I love them best) or cool at room temperature before refrigerating for several hours or overnight.

*I didn’t have the required ramekins, but I had six smaller ones (pictured) as well as two mini coffee cups. Necessity is the mother of invention, right?

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 32 Comments

  1. Jacqui

    oh winter. i’ve been telling people how i hate snow and so far, no one has really agreed. instead they say, “well, you’re living in the wrong place.” which reminds me that i have the power to up and leave and never see snow again, so i should probably stop complaining. dang.

    on a brighter note, i found a reason to like snow, and it’s called my camera. i can’t wait to get outside and see the snow differently for once — through the lens of my camera, which always helps me find beauty in things i never really thought i loved until i photographed it. grab your camera, girl. maybe you’ll be surprised.

    p.s. i say this in the beginning of december. my tune will likely change come april, when it’s still snowing.

  2. MaryAnn

    I myself am not a fan of snow, either. But I’m not a fan of anything winter, really. Busy schedules make it difficult to just stay home & stay warm. I’m all about beaches & sunshine (at least, in my daydreams!).
    I have a little question for you if you should do the Q&A thing…you seem to cook a lot & many of your recipes seem wonderfully yummy & rich. How do you maintain a healthy weight? Do you work out like crazy? Are you blessed with a fabulous metabolism? Do you give away most of what you cook? Just one nosey little question that became several more questions :-)

  3. Emily

    I *am* a fan of snow, but the onslaught of the last five Boston winters has left me antipathetic to the very IDEA of cold weather. I feel your complaint about the lack of daytime hours. HOWEVER, one thing that snow does do is brighten up the nighttime. It’s not daylight by any stretch, but certainly an excuse to get bundled up and go make nighttime snow angels. The streetlights, glimmers from other people’s houses and cars, even the moon bounce around on all that white until everything’s aglow. I REALLY like snowy nights.

  4. Celeste

    Living near Whistler BC where the 2010 Winter Olympics is being held, I hope they get the snow they need.
    Last year I lived in Florida and missed the load of snow that dumped in Vancouver so I am kind of hoping to see some.
    I too love snowy nights. Slipping on the gloves and going for a walk late at night and glancing up at the streetlights watching the snowflakes whirl down. Something sacred about the blanket of white covering everything.

  5. Allyson

    Try NOT having a car in Chicago. I just walked my ass over a mile to work. It isn’t the snow, it’s the cold! I love snow. I love snow when there isn’t a -20 wind chill along with it.

  6. kickpleat

    I never really had a thing for chocolate pudding, but looking at your photos I think I must, because they look amazing! My mom used to make the Jello stove top kind (way better than the instant) and I can see the potential. Seems cozy.

  7. Toni

    I actually love snow, even though I’ve been living in southern California for….well, for too long, I think. I used to live in New Mexico, where we were blanketed in white while retaining our brilliant turquoise blue skies.

    That chocolate pudding looks terrific! A crust on the top? Sounds almost creme brulee-ish.

  8. Kim

    I made chocolate pudding last night too! Mine was of the instant Jell-O variety (did you know they make single-serving sizes now? Mmm), which was perfect since we decided we wanted pudding at 10pm. 10 minutes later, pudding! I did make homemade whipped cream though :)

  9. Shannalee

    Carolyn, Pretty sure my palms started sweating when I read that. Adrenaline rush indeed.

    Whitney, Yes. These are the paradoxes of this bittersweet season.

    Jacqui, OK, OK. I will try to take pictures, even fighting the cynicism in my head that says the snow will be gone by the time I can. I guess I could bring my camera with me everywhere, right? Why have I stopped that? This is sad.

    MaryAnn, I have been asked that before, and it always makes me laugh because, trust me, I am no healthy example. Will answer that next week, though. And amen to busy schedules keeping you from enjoying the cold at home. I know.

    Emily, Night snow angels! There is something I have not considered!

    Celeste, Florida to Vancouver has got to be a HUGE change! I’m hoping you all get snow for the Olympics, too. That will be an exciting time, I bet!

    Allyson, That’s awful! It’s funny that with a car, you hate the snow that makes driving hard, but without one, you hate the cold that makes walking hard. It’s humbling how much our lives are affected by things outside our control, isn’t it?

    Kickpleat, That is the very kind we make sometimes! Cozy indeed. This version is a little more custard-y, like a different twist on pudding. I like it.

    Toni, I submit that you love snow because you’ve been living in California, ha! I didn’t realize New Mexico gets that much snow though! Go figure!

    Kim, OK, next time, do the stovetop Jell-O at least. SOOO good. And yum, homemade whipped cream!? Love that.

    Montague, Ha! It’s an hour or so away, if you head to the kitchen, friend!

  10. Niki

    Snow is no big deal to me. Snow is eh. I can drive in the snow just fine, evem though it does make me drive a wee bit slower and a wee bit more paranoid.
    What really bothers me is the ice. The chunks that gather at the end of the driveway (that my father love to hit w/ my car, hence why my front bumper has been cracked for two years), the black ice you can’t see, the solid thick ice on the shoulders of the roadway, the ice that covered your stairs and railing, ice, ice, ice. I hate ice. I like it in my milk, not on the ground. I hate driving in it, whiteknuckled, going 20 below the speed limit…
    But pudding. Well, pudding makes the ice seem less ech. Especially b/c eating pudding means that I’m at home, in the kitchen or cuddled on the couch w/ my snuggie and NOT driving on the ice.

  11. kate

    I’m a happy snow lover. It comes with a lifetime of living in Minnesota, but it’s a choice as well. And griping certainly doesn’t change the weather. My snow love of cross-country skiing keeps me sane. There is nothing like swishing through a quiet park at twilight, amping up the heart rate and feeling my muscles working so hard. It makes a pre-dinner shower and a nice meal so delightful.

    That pudding, oh my…so tempting and decadent. I can’t do dairy- well, I can but I might regret the intrusion- and pudding is one of those dairy options that evokes crocodile tears when I think of it. I may just have to try a non-dairy version and suck it up. The chocolate is really all that matters anyway.

  12. Shannalee

    Jessica, Good news (is it?) is that you’ll have plenty of cold days coming, right?

    Niki, I think I equate snow with ice. It’s illogical maybe but every time the snow comes, I immediately think of icy roads. Blame a bad experience/accident/almost-death. ANYWAY – yes, pudding helps! Love that you have a snuggie. I am so close to getting one, no joke.

    JessieV, I want to think it’s gorgeous, I really do. Small steps.

    Kate, I wonder how this would be with a non-dairy substitute, I really do. If you try it, could you let me know?

    Megan, Thank you and I’m glad to have found you, too!

  13. Shannalee

    Leftoverist, The funny thing is, my coworker and I were just talking about Washington (for her part, a certain vampire movie might be to blame), but we couldn’t decide if you guys get snow. Now I know! Yes to snow but no to fun driving in it. Hmmmn. Still sounds good to me.

  14. Trisha

    My friend recommended me your website and I must say… I’m drawn to the beautiful photos and inspiring recipes! I haven’t seen snow before (living in hot Australia and all…) but there’s something mysteriously romantic about it. :)

  15. Shannalee

    Trisha, Well, thanks so much for stopping by (and thanks to your friend, too!) and for your sweet comment. I like what you said about the romance of snow – I want to see that in it again, and maybe this winter will be the year!

  16. Gabi

    Snow is fun… At least for Christmas. But for the life of me I cannot make peace with the single digit temperatures in Chicago.
    Probably because I bike to work and I need 10 minutes to wrap myself up like a burrito in many layers.
    But hey – your chocolate pudding might be a fix for all this…

    Cheers!
    Gabi.

  17. Shannalee

    Gabi, Even though your ride to work is short, I am still VERY impressed that you do it in winter. That is so smart. Maybe we’ll get a mild winter this year though, huh? We’re almost to Christmas and it hasn’t been too bad yet. Fingers crossed. :)

  18. Pingback: Not Your Momma's Chocolate Pudding (Three Ways) | Food Loves Writing

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