Two of my favorite things to do in the winter are: 1) Eat pudding and 2) Get out of New York and visit California. It’s even better when I can combine these two wonderful things, like I did last year at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. This neighborhood bakery specializes in classic French desserts, but what drew me in while I was there was the rich, colorful, buttery brioche bread pudding. I sat down in the warm California weather and ate one of the largest bowls of pudding I have ever seen. The experience stuck in my mind, and I remembered Tartine when my mind turned to pudding this year. I mean that in every sense. This year my mind and energy level are taxed to the brink, and I actively search out things that will taste great and impress guests without requiring much effort.
My San Francisco foodie friend Ken recently surprised me with the new Tartine Cookbook. This book is beautiful, inside and out. The pictures of fruit tarts, layered cakes, croissants, trifle, scones, meringues and much more make you want to pack your bags for San Francisco immediately. Since that’s not an option for me right now, the opportunity to make these recipes at home was a dream come true. I decided to start with something simple, and turned to the Tartine Bakery to help me make chocolate pudding.
I have always loved homemade chocolate pudding. I’m not talking about the “Snack-Pack crap” like my dad calls it, I mean the slow cooked style, with real cream and eggs. It seemed to take an eternity to make it when I was a kid, and I hated the constant stirring. After all of that, having to wait until it chilled before eating was just cruel and unusual punishment. This long wait (for usually mediocre pudding) is all solved with the Tartine recipe. I made the Tartine chocolate pudding late at night, and it was done and ready to eat in about 20 minutes. Of course I ate it warm, but that is the beauty of this pudding. While warm it is rich and creamy, and when cold it thickens to be more like a pot de creme, that will hold a spoon upright. This texture is a result of stirring in chopped chocolate at the very last step, which firms the custard as it cools. This also gives you the opportunity to affect the flavor by using different types of chocolate. Try a mexican spiced dark chocolate or tea infused chocolate for a different flavor.
This is the perfect stand-by holiday recipe. You can top it with whipped cream and chocolate shavings for a festive treat, or throw it in a crust for chocolate cream pie. I will try the pie option for Thanksgiving, possibly lining the crust with a layer of ganache. You have to love the holidays.
Recipe from the Tartine cookbook
Yield: 4 to 6 individual servings (or fills one 9″ pie crust)
1 3/4 cup (14 oz) Whole milk (I used 2% with good results)
1/2 cup (5 oz) Heavy cream
1/4 cup (1 oz) Cornstarch
3/4 cup (5 oz) Sugar
3 TBS (45 ml) Cocoa Powder
3 Large eggs
1/4 tspn (1 ml) Salt
2.5 oz Bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- Have ready a fine-mesh sieve placed over a large, heat-proof container.
- Combine the milk and cream in a heavy, medium saucepan and heat to just under a boil.(Be sure to just warm it and keep it under a boil, or it may curdle and “break” the pudding. If this happens don’t worry, it won’t taste bad, it just won’t be as smooth.)
- Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine the cornstarch and sugar, and sift in the cocoa powder. Whisk until blended.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the salt until blended.
- Add the egg mixture to the sugar mixture and whisk until well combined.
- Slowly add half of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture while whisking constantly. (NOTE: Add the hot liquid slowly, or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs.)
- Pour the warmed egg mixture back into the pan with the rest of the milk mixture and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture has visibly thickened and registers 208F on a thermometer. This should take 5 to 7 minutes, depending on how cold your eggs are (Be sure to warm it slowly, don’t be tempted to turn the heat on high. On medium-low heat it only took 3-4 minutes for me).
- Immediately pour the contents of the pan through the sieve. Add the chocolate and let the heat of the milk-egg mixture melt it.
- Once the chocolate has melted, blend with an immersion blender for a full 5 minutes until no lumps are visible. (I whisked by hand without any problems).
- Portion the pudding into cups. Let cool and serve at room temperature. Top with whipped cream if desired.
Tartine Bakery Cookbook
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