Chocolate Pudding

When the silky white starch was first milled from the center of the corn kernel almost 200 years ago, creamy puddings soon became common desserts. My grandmother’s 1912 cookbook  suggests a vanilla pudding topped with poached fruit. Here was a quick, inexpensive pud  that didn’t demand stoking up the oven or rolling pastry. One hundred years later, grocery shelves displayed little cardboard boxes of cornstarch pudding mixes, and school cafeterias featured small, stemmed glass bowls of chocolate, butterscotch and vanilla pudding. Though tempting to view, the box pudding was usually, artificially flavored and cloyingly sweet.

Now that we’re really ready to walk away from prepared food, we can retreat to the original heirloom cornstarch puddings. We can lighten the sugar, intensify the flavor with real chocolate and make a nursery dessert something special for all ages. My granddaughters are delighted with chocolate pudding presented in stemmed martini glasses. For elders preferring a small serving, a rinsed eggshell half filled with pudding and nestled in an eggcup will make a perfect amount. Pretty recycled jam jars filled with homemade chocolate pudding make gifts to lighten anyone’s midweek blues.

Chocolate pud’s not a place skimp on richness when you’re looking for full flavor. Use whole milk or add a tablespoon of butter along with reduced fat milk. Cream is lovely but optional, and if possible, select a fine eating chocolate.

Chocolate Pudding

2 tablespoons sugar

1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

pinch of salt, scant 1/8 teaspoon

4 fl. oz. (½ cup) cream or whole milk

2 egg yolks

8 fl. oz. (1 cup) whole milk

2 oz. good semisweet chocolate, chopped, ½ a 4 oz. bar or scant 2/3 cup chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small bowl combine the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt. Stir with a small whisk to remove all lumps. Blend in cream and egg yolks.

In small heavy saucepan scald 1 cup milk. Pour in the cocoa mixture, scraping everything from the bowl with a rubber spatula. Whisk to evenly combine then remove whisk and continue to stir in a figure-8 motion with a wooden spoon. Cook over moderate heat until the pudding thickens evenly and pops at least one boil bubble. Remove from heat and stir in chopped chocolate. Cool slightly. Stir again to evenly blend in melted chocolate; add vanilla. Divide into dessert cups or pour into a serving bowl. Decorate with curled chocolate if desired. Makes generous 2 cups, 4 to 6 servings.

Mary Jo’s cookbook is available at


3 Responses to “Chocolate Pudding”

  1. James Reiss Says:

    Welcome to cyber-space, Mary Jo! Your brand-new blog looks fabulous. You’ve got a solid reputation as a stellar chef. Your recipes, many of which are featured in your cookbook, “Mary Jo’s Cuisine,” are meticulously written and, I’m sure, tested with your usual TLC for accuracy. As a longtime devotee of your cooking style, I can’t wait to sample your chocolate pudding, so inventively spoonable from an eggshell. I look forward to poring over any new comments and recipes you’ll post in your blog. To take a phrase from one Irish culinary maven, your food is simply delicious.

  2. JoAnne Sobol Says:

    Hi Mary Jo. Am so glad to know of your blog. Can’t wait to try the vegetable recipes in particular. I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed kale, particularly purple kale is special. Will try your recipe soon!
    It is also good to read introductions to each recipe. Next best thing to visiting after a delicious meal at your restaurant in Oxford………such fond memories!!!! (and such yummy, lovingly prepared food)

  3. JoAnne Sobol Says:

    Love reading your blog and looking forward to trying the vegetable recipes in particular.

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