Chocolate pudding has always been my comfort food—and, contrary to what the title of this post might suggest, my momma makes a great one. That hot, creamy Cook N’Serve of my childhood was pure heaven to the both of us more nights than I can count. We’d pull out the tiny cardboard box, rip open a paper envelope, combine the contents with milk on the stove and whisk and heat that mixture until it grew into a thick, creamy, throat-coating dessert. I liked it best when it was hot, almost steaming. But we’d both also eat it cold, having been covered with wrap in the fridge. It was milky. It was rich. It was the first thing I’d reach for when I’d had a rough day. But lately, I’ve been learning there’s more than one kind of creamy, chocolate comfort.

Sweet Potato Chocolate Pudding
Exhibit #1: Sweet potato chocolate pudding. I first heard about this on a friend’s Instagram feed, where she’d said the recipe came from Whole Foods. Since it seemed like she liked it so much, I figured I’d give it a try. You start by sticking two whole sweet potatoes in a baking dish and sliding that dish into a 350-degree oven for an hour or so. Take them out when they’re fork tender, and let them cool (or, don’t, if you’re like me). Take off the skins that peel off as easily as jackets by this point, and slip the insides in a food processor or blender. Then combine the sweet potato with cocoa powder, honey, a little bit of your favorite milk and some cinnamon (I stopped using ginger the second and third rounds) and, woah, the texture is uncannily pudding. We’re talking thick, sturdy, the kind of stuff that holds up on its own on a spoon. If you don’t mind traces of autumn in your chocolate pudding, trust me when I say, make this one, now. (Recipe source: Whole Foods Market)

chocolate chia pudding

Next up is chocolate chia pudding, a.k.a., the version voted Most Likely Not to Be Confused with Real Pudding. Chia pudding is different from traditional chocolate pudding in color, in texture and in taste. It’s thinner and lighter and filled with tiny plumped-up, softened chia seeds. You could say it’s a little like tapioca, but, to be honest, I think tapioca’s more of a treat. I like chocolate chia pudding best for breakfast, mostly because it’s not overly sweet and because soaked chia seeds (i.e., “chia gel”) have been shown to be have a variety of health benefits, including aiding digestion.

The recipe: You simply measure out 1/3 cup of chia seeds into 1 cup of coconut milk (for a rich, ice creamy version) or almond milk (for a thinner, slightly nutty version). (I also tried it with regular milk and am not a fan). Stir this together in a bowl or shake it up in a closed mason jar; add a little vanilla and some cocoa powder and a generous helping of honey or maple syrup; stir again; and put the mixture in the fridge.  In the morning, shake or stir again and enjoy! (Also, should the idea of tiny gelatinous seeds turn your stomach, I have also read you can throw the mixture in the food processor in the morning to change the texture to smooth, if you like.)

(For other versions of chia pudding, check out Deliciously Organic and The First Mess)

cashew chocolate mousse pudding

Then, of course, there is cashew pudding. My first experience with a chocolate cashew pudding was in a grocery store demo. I went back for seconds at that grocery store demo. I wanted to go back for thirds at that grocery store demo. But instead, I nabbed a recipe card. And while it’s taken me over a year to get to actually try making cashew pudding myself and while I no longer have that original recipe, I have to say: Cashew pudding is something.

The recipe: You soak the nuts in water the night before; then strain them in the morning and stick them in the blender or food processor. Add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, a sweetener like honey or maple syrup and a little water to thin things out. Blend. Adjust by adding more cocoa or sweetener or water as you like. My latest version ended up more like a mousse, sort of airy, light and thin. But like both of the other puddings, it firmed up nicely in the fridge.

(For other versions of cashew pudding, visit Neo Homesteading and Tosca Reno)

The Final Verdict
Tim casts a strong vote for the sweet potato pudding, whose texture was just right. I lean a little more towards a vote for all three, treating them like my children and finding something lovable about each one. But as I post this, I’m also thinking of my go-to backup chocolate pudding recipe, which is sort of like the frosting in this post, as simple as avocado + cocoa powder + sweetener + a little liquid + some vanilla blended together well. So maybe that’s my favorite, even if it’s not pictured here. What do you think? Have you tried any alternative chocolate puddings? Which one(s) do you like best? Is there another one I should know about—if so, you know I’m in.

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 30 Comments

  1. Marie @ Little Kitchie

    These all look so delicious! I’m really interested in the cashew one especially, mainly because I’m a little obsessed with cashews in general. Our pastor gave us a recipe for avocado chocolate pudding that we LOVE – it sounds similar to yours!

  2. Lan | morestomach

    i’ve only ever done the avocado chocolate pudding kind and though i liked it fine, dw did not. i know you don’t do soy/tofu but i have made it with tofu (both silken and firm kinds) to great results.
    i think cashews would be a hit, but raw & organic cashews are sooooo expensive. it would be a really pricey treat! :)

  3. Joanna

    Chocolate avocado pudding is my most common treat. I love it! Thankfully, Brad does, too. I’ve never heard of the sweet potato version, though. I’ll have to try that one next! Mmmm

  4. Laura

    Chocolate pudding is one of my favourite comfort foods too, so I’m always game for new healthy spins on it. That sweet potato one sounds insane! It looks like it has the texture of SERIOUS chocolate mousse. Must try that one as soon as I can.

    And thanks for linking to my recipe too :) xo!

  5. Lindsey @ Pas de Deux

    As anyone who knows me well can validate, I LOVE any dessert that is cold and creamy – ice cream in all of its many forms, pudding, pot de creme, etc… I cannot wait to experiment with the sweet potato and cashew versions you suggest here!

  6. Sophia

    Who doesn’t love a big bowl of chocolate pudding? I am intrigued by the sweet potatoe version – the texture looks spot on. Not sure how I feel about the chia version – I do use chia seeds in smoothies and vegan baking but wonder whether I would find the texture right for pudding. And yes please to the avocado version – I love making chocolate avocado pudding, it is creamy and rich!

    I love the idea of the cashew one as well – my favourite vegan cheesecake is made with cashews and dare I say it, I almost prefer that one to the real thing! But alas, my food processor isn’t up to turning nuts into as creamy a paste as I would like (I have tried!) and don’t think my current budget allows for more costly kitchen appliances, but when it does, cashew cheesecake and puddings it is!

  7. Bethany

    The sweet potato recipe would be my pick. It makes such good sense to me! Partly because when I made baby food for our little one, I would puree the sweet potatoes and add a little milk. After he was in bed, I would be pulling the pureed sweet potatoes out of the refrigerator to curb my sweet tooth and eat it like pudding. Perfect sense. Now if only I had thought to add cocoa… As always, looking forward to trying it.

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