Saturday night’s all right for pudding.

Keeping this site going has really been a culinary boon for me – I’m cooking more than ever, am constantly inspired by the amazing creations of fellow bloggers, and can more easily justify astronomical grocery bills. One downside, though, is that I rarely make anything sweet anymore. After all, there are only two of us and we’ve been pretty full of filet mignon stuffed with cheese or lard-fried chicken. (We eat vegetables too. Sometimes.) (No, really, we do. After we deep-fry them.) (And wrap them in bacon.)

Next week I’ll have occasion to bake a great big layer cake, one of my favorite things to do, but I really wanted something smaller that I could make quickly for the two of us. That’s when I saw Smitten Kitchen’s Best Chocolate Pudding. I’m immediately attracted to anything with “best” and “chocolate” in the title and I love pudding, as my long-standing financial support of Cozy Shack products can attest to. And now I can make my own, so don’t worry about sending any free pudding my way for all this crazy free publicity, Cozy Shack.

Insert non sequitor here.

Best of all, this pudding cooks up in about 20 minutes, is composed entirely of things I already have in the house, and doesn’t involve fussing. There are no eggs, and therefore no tempering and no risk of scrambling, and no cream (at least, in the original). It’s easy to make any day of the week, and intensely chocolatey without also being intensely rich.

I’m pretty excited about this whole thing, because I’ve not had good luck with puddings. My main efforts have centered on butterscotch, which brings the scylla and charybdis of dealing with pudding and caramel. But this pudding recipe and method has me singing a new tune.*

* Specifically, “Hooked on a Feeling.” Shut up, you know you like it too.

New Canon Powershot S5.1S, I think I love you and your macro setting. Let’s stay together forever.

How do you like them apples? Or rather, pudding? I didn’t want to use up all the whole milk in the house because Brian gets a little cranky without coffee, so I swapped it for some heavy cream. I also added some cayenne and cinnamon to make a Mexican chocolate pudding, since spicy chocolate is one of my favorite things. The amount of cayenne in the recipe below produces a decent amount of heat; I had to take a sip of milk after eating my pudding. If you’ve ever had Vosges Red Fire chocolate, it tastes a lot like that; it lingers a bit in the back of the throat, in a good way. Depending on your tolerance or lack thereof, feel free to adjust.

If you can pour milk into a pot and stir it around, you can make this pudding. If you can’t, you probably have bigger problems than not being able to make homemade pudding. I’m sorry.

Mexican Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 c. whole milk
1 c. heavy cream (or omit, and use 3 c. whole milk)
6 oz. good quality semi- or bittersweet chocolate (I used some 64% Valhrona)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
2 good size pinches cayenne
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix the first 4 ingredients and the spices in a heat proof bowl. Gradually whisk in the milk and cream. Put the mixture over a double boiler of simmering water and heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Use a whisk if it seems like things are lumping up on you.

Meanwhile, chop the chocolate. When the milk mixture thickens, add the chocolate and vanilla and stir to combine. Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth, uniform and thickened, about 3 minutes.

Pour the pudding through a mesh strainer (or don’t, if you’re lazy; mine didn’t really have any lumps) into 6 individual servings or one big bowl. Chill for at least 1-2 hours.

Because of the heat from the cayenne, it’s nice to serve this with a dollop of slightly sweetened, slightly whipped cream. Or keep a glass of skim milk handy.