Simple Chocolate Pudding

by Sarah on January 24, 2011

chocolate pudding

Pudding is a homey dessert made to satisfy not impress. It may not have the sophistication of airy soufflés or sculpted meringues but it is the very best of soul and comfort food.

Despite today’s reputation, pudding  had an illustrious past and even decorated the caliph’s table. The Baghdad Cookery Book of medieval times gives us a glimpse of the wonderful variations of this humble dish. These puddings, known as akhbisa, were rich and aromatic; scented with sesame seed oil and rosewater and filled with luscious pistachios, sweet dates, poppy seeds and honey. Bread, flour and ground almonds were often used as a base as well as more unusual ingredients of carrots and gourds. This Middle Eastern dessert was extravagant enough to serve royalty.

A few hundred years later, rosewater scented malabi (mahalabiya) is still a favorite in the Levant. During the heat of the summer it is especially common to see to makeshift malabi stands on roads leading to the sea. Thrifty vendors sell them out of pickup trucks in disposable cups and sometimes add extra grated coconut, bright red syrup and ground peanuts. Eaten with flimsy plastic spoons, it isn’t the best version I have eaten but in the hot sun it certainly is the most refreshing.

Malabi might be more traditional, but it seems that chocolate trumps as the favorite pudding flavor in Israel, with endless commercial variations lining the supermarket shelves (for some reason this flavor is never offered at roadside stands). Both are not very hard to prepare at home. All you need is a steady hand for stirring and a couple of pantry items.

Today, gluten-free thickening agents such as cornstarch, tapioca, potato, rice and arrow root flour, are commonly used in addition to the wheat based starches. For those who are vegan or lactose intolerant, soy, almond and rice milk can be used in place of cream or milk in many recipes. Take note that these nondairy alternatives cannot always be substituted directly; you may need more or less to get the desired consistency.

chocolate pudding

Simple Chocolate Pudding

This recipe was taken from allrecipes.com and was submitted by Kelly Powers. I won’t say this is the best recipe after several of my readers declared a previous “best” recipe a complete flop but it works fine for me and hope it will for you.

1/2 cup white sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 3/4 cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small pot combine all the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla and milk. Cook on low while constantly stirring so lumps do not form. A whisk is useful for this. The mixture will combine and thicken. Continue to cook until it is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat and add the butter, mixing well. Serve warm or cold. Let cool and cover with plastic wrap so a film does not form on the surface.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Yael January 24, 2011 at 12:08 am

Look good. Having chocolate early in the morning is always nice. Loved the research on the subject, very interesting.

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Sarah January 24, 2011 at 3:23 am

thanks Yael and Natalie!

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Natalie January 24, 2011 at 1:51 am

Looks incredible! I absolutely LOVE pudding and that one looks great.
Great photos as always :)

Natalie

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Liz January 24, 2011 at 4:39 am

What’s unimpressive about pudding??

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Sarah January 24, 2011 at 5:21 am

exactly, pudding is the most impressive

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Judith van Praag January 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Sarah, Thank you for this story. Just seeing the picture of the chocolate pudding brings back early memories of my mother making the same and also from scratch. I remember sitting on the floor on my blanket (that small) and my mom giving me the milk boiler in which she stirred the pudding to lick. A double sweet memory. Thanks!

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Sarah January 25, 2011 at 1:43 pm

lovely memories, the flavorful ones seem to be the strongest

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Serap January 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Thank you for posting this recipe, I just made it and it is delicious… I had to eat a bowl of it while still warm, but I now it will be even better tomorrow, out of the fridge!

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Sarah January 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm

thanks Serap! glad it worked out. I usually eat it warm, my favorite way.

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doggybloggy January 26, 2011 at 4:33 pm

great shot of the sugar blasting on to the pudding – this looks like a nice and creamy treat….

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Sarah January 27, 2011 at 1:10 am

thanks doggybloggy, Three cheers to pudding!

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Lisa January 27, 2011 at 11:02 pm

That pudding looks wonderfully silky and creamy. Good job. I have a linky party on my blog every week called “Sweets for a Saturday” and I’d like to invite you to stop by this weekend and link this up.

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Laura February 7, 2011 at 10:51 am

Great pictures! BTW, did you know that you can make chocolate pudding one portion at a time by mixing the ingredients in a mug and microwaving it?

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Sarah February 7, 2011 at 11:57 am

thanks for that awesome tip Laura, I will try it out!

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