Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chocolate pudding memories

If you could go back in time and meet yourself at age 7 or 8, what would you say to you?  I got to thinking about that last night and then went to my trusty photo album and found this one.  I don't think that my mom caught us clean and dressed up very often.  We must have been going to church.  We lived in this house for about a year or so, I think.  We really were stair-step kids, weren't we?  Bless Mama Mildred's heart.
I guess I would tell me to keep working hard in school and hang in there.  It is all going to turn out great.  You are going to have some great teachers, people who love you and look out for you, go to college, learn to speak French, get your passport, travel, get married, have two beautiful children of your own, and have a pretty darned good life.  I would give myself permission to play more.  And worry less.  But I am smiling here so I guess I was happy.
Now, where does the chocolate pudding come into play?  Mama Mildred taught me how to make it from scratch at some point in my childhood and I would make it for the crew pictured above for breakfast.  According to Moo, the littlest one in the front, we called it Chocolate Gravy.  I made breakfast a lot of mornings, I think, since my mom worked shift work back in the day when there were actually factories in my hometown.  Last night, while watching college football games (the Vols lost-- again) on television, the Geico Gecko came on.  You know, the little green lizard with an Australian accent.

The talking gecko said something about pudding and the Ex-Ex said that pudding sure would taste good.  It doesn't take much more than that to get my mental checklist of ingredients going...  milk?  check   chocolate?  check   sugar?   check    So, I hopped up, googled chocolate pudding recipes, and got to measuring and whisking.  I found a delicious recipe at The Smitten Kitchen.  I cannot believe I haven't found this website before.
While whisking, I headed down memory lane and thought about that warm chocolate gravy.  Sorry Mama Mildred.  I needed a recipe this time.  And cocoa powder wasn't involved this time.  My stash of Nestlé dessert Noir from the July trip to France came in handy.  It is usually reserved for making mousse au chocolat, but it makes very good pudding, too.  Trust me.  I licked the bowl and spatula while it was still warm from the stove.

The Ex-Ex waited until it was cold, wished for some whipped cream which we didn't have on hand, but pronounced it very good.  He even ate some for breakfast this morning.

Chocolate Pudding
serves 6

1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
3 c. whole milk
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (the chocolate I used is 52% cacao)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Combine the cornstarch, sugar, and salt in the top of a double boiler.  Slowly whisk in the milk. scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients.  Place the pot over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides.  Use a whisk as necessary if lumps begin to form.  After 15-20 minutes, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon, add the chocolate.  Continue stirring for 2-4 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

2.  Strain if you have lumps (if you whisk in the milk slowly and well at the beginning your pudding should be lump-free!).  Pour or spoon the pudding into a serving bowl or individual serving dishes.

3.  Place plastic wrap on top of the pudding and gently smooth it on the surface to avoid having "skin" on the top.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.

Bon appétit to the little kids we all used to be.

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