I was watching a TV series on DVD recently, and in one episode, the characters ate a heck of a lot of chocolate pudding. They are so much that it kind of put me off of it. Now, don’t get me wrong because I do like chocolate pudding – I was just glad that had already eaten the chocolate chocolate pudding that I had made earlier in the week!
This pudding is just a little bit of a twist on a simple chocolate pudding recipe that I use as a go-to recipe. The pudding is made with milk and thickened with a little bit of cornstarch, instead of eggs. This means it is less fussy than some pudding recipes – no tempering of eggs required – and has a slightly lighter texture than some very heavy puddings that load up on egg yolks. It still has a good chocolate flavor, thanks to some cocoa powder and some melted chocolate that is incorporated into it. I’ve used it before in homemade Chocolate and Vanilla Pudding Cups. In this instance, the twist I’ve given it is a twist of mint. I added Chocolate Mint Bailey’s liqueur and a little bit of peppermint extract. The pudding is as chocolaty as ever, but has a refreshing note to the finish, as well as a hint of rich Irish Creme liqueur.
If you don’t have the Mint Bailey’s, you can substitute another chocolate liqueur, regular Bailey’s Irish Cream or just swap in some extra milk. The liqueur acts like a combination of chocolate extract and mint extract, in terms of the flavor it lends to the pudding, but a bit extra mint extract will help get the pudding to just the right level if necessary.
I used to love eating those layered Jello pudding cups, the ones that had chocolate on the bottom, vanilla in the middle and chocolate on top. The vanilla layer was my favorite part, as a whole container of chocolate pudding could be a little on the rich side (at the time, anyway). These days, the Jello pudding cups don’t quite do it for me, but I do like the chocolate and vanilla combination in one bowl. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to do this with homemade pudding.
The chocolate and vanilla puddings need to be made at the same time for this dish, so you’ll need two saucepans of approximately the same size. The chocolate pudding recipe is slightly adapted from a Moosewood Restaurant cookbook, and the vanilla pudding is a spinoff of the spinoff. Neither pudding requires eggs; they’re thickened with cornstarch and can be made from start to finish in only a few minutes. The chocolate has a good chocolate flavor, but isn’t as rich or intense as a chocolate mousse. I added some chocolate, which isn’t called for in the original recipe, to increase the overall chocolatiness of the pudding. The vanilla pudding has a milder flavor and a slightly lighter feel than the chocolate, but is a good balance for it. I put some white chocolate into the vanilla pudding to sweeten it a little, as well as to give it a little more richness.
While you could make both puddings in advance, chill them, and spoon them out into serving dishes when cold to make layering easier, the finished dish isn’t quite the same. When you layer the puddings while they are hot, they meld together around the edges and you end up with a nice skin on top of the pudding cup. The trick to pouring the pudding is to do it slowly. If you can manage it, you can pour the pudding over the back of a spoon so that it doesn’t crash down into previous layers (much like layering cream on a cocktail), but otherwise it is easy to pour the puddings into measuring cups from the sauce pans and pour from there.
Your first one or two might not come out quite as well-layered as the Jello cups, but with a little practice it gets much easier. And the puddings still taste just as yummy when they come out with a swirl and not a layer.
The best part about being, say, under the age of 11 is that you get to order off the kid’s menu in restaurants. The main course offerings of kid’s menu are not the terribly exciting. In fact, many such menus are limited to plain hamburgers, grilled cheese and french fries. No, the thing that makes me nostalgic is the free dessert that comes along with the meal. I will admit that it isn’t usually anything exciting, but what kid could resist a restaurant meal that includes dessert?
The most common dessert wass a scoop of vanilla ice cream, occasionally turned into a sunday with a bit of fudge and whipped cream, but I would always order a dirt cup when it was on the menu. A dirt cup is a layered dish of chocolate pudding and chocolate cookie (or cake) crumbs that vaguely resembles a cup of dirt. This similarity is played upon with the inclusion a few gummi-worms.
I will freely admit that I actually ordered the dessert for the gummi worms alone. I still eat them first.
This dirt cup may not trick anyone, but it makes an adorable dessert for kids of any age and a fun one for grown-ups on Halloween.There is no recipe for these, just put some chocolate pudding into a cup and top with crushed chocolate biscuits or cake crumbs. I used an extra cupcake I had frozen a few weeks back. Top your dirt cup with gummi-worms and any other appropriate decorations you have on hand. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, like me, perhaps you’ll notice that my dessert bears a striking similarity to the dark mark. What could be spookier?
Happy Halloween, everyone!