Also known as wicked fancy chocolate pudding. Which reminds me that I should tell you about The Great Pudding Fight of 2008.
It was fall of 2008 and Felix and I had been dating for less than a year. I was inspired to make pudding from scratch (I'd just started reading food blogs, starting with Orangette). I mixed and whisked and blended and chilled and served my pudding to my English then-boyfriend. We hadn't even been dating for a year when it happened.
I handed the pudding to him - dish, spoon, napkin, expectations, hopes. He took a bite and then two. And then another.
"Good." He's a man of many words. "What is it?"
"I mean, what IS it," he said.
"It's pudding, "I said more loudly, but still kindly, as if I were speaking to an elderly Bloodhound.
"But what KIND of pudding?" He seemed a little annoyed, for a man with a belly full of homemade pudding.
"It's CHOCOLATE pudding!" I was expecting oohs, ahhs, thank yous, proposals, kisses, worship - all kinds of things, but not grumpy bastards who questioned my pudding.
"But WHAT KIND OF CHOOCLATE PUDDING?" It had become an all-caps conversation. The caps lock was ON, baby.
"SERIOUSLY. It's CHOCOLATE PUDDING. Like, Bill Cosby, ugly sweater, J-E-L-L-O, but FROM SCRATCH."
"Oh, custard. Got it. It's good."
And that was our first fight.
Had I only known about this recipe, I could have made it, and it would have been like pudding to me, the American, but I would have said it was Chocolate Budino, avoiding all conflict. Thank goodness we made it through.
Long story slightly shorter, I made this Milk Chocolate and Early Grey Budino as part of The Bitten Word (Super Awesome) Cover to Cover Challenge. The first time I made the recipe, I made it exactly as directed. It was a perfect assignment - I had a tin of very fancy Earl Grey from Fortnum & Mason in London and this was a perfect use. (What, I'm supposed to drink it?)
We found the result to be really flavorful - the Earl Grey gave it a complexity that we loved. It was was unique, fragrant, but not too floral. Pretty amazing. But the texture wasn't quite as pleasing as I'd hoped - it was indeed smooth, but it was a bit plasticky rather than silky. The version below is adjusted to fix that. The Early Grey whipped cream on top was lovely, but I was inspired by the tea to try a different flavor pairing in the whipped cream - honey.
(Conflict-free) Chocolate and Early Grey Budino
Adapted from Milk Chocolate & Earl Grey Budino, Food & Wine October 2012
3 oz. Sharffen Berger semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1 TBS butter
2 TBS cornstarch
1 TBS unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp Earl Grey tea leaves
2 cups (16 ounces) whole milk
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp powdered (confectioner's) sugar
1 TBS honey
flaked sea salt, for sprinkling
Add chocolate chunks and butter to a heatproof bowl.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk sifted cornstarch and sifted cocoa powder with granulated sugar and tea leaves. Add milk and bring to a low boil, whisking constantly until quite thick.
This took me a solid 3 minutes of bubbling to achieve.
Pour the thickened mixture through a fine sieve over the butter and chocolate and let sit for 30-60 seconds.
Whisk to combine. Divide chocolate budino among four 6 oz ramekins and chill for at least an hour.
To make whipping cream, whip cream until soft peaks form and then add the powdered sugar and another 20 seconds. Drizzle honey over the cream and gently turn it through to combine. When you're ready to serve, put a dollop of cream on each pudding (budino, whatever) and sprinle with flaked sea salt.
No raising of voices necessary, unless you want to shout, Awwwwww, yeaaaahhhhh.
Also, if you're not reading The Bitten Word, you should be - they really do rule. Some of my favorite Bitten hits are this spatchcocked turkey -- and if you're hosting Thanksgiving, reading all of their Thanksgiving posts would serve you well -- this adult beverage, this cake, and this sophisticated twist on tuna casserole.
Notes: This recipe is a great base for variations. I look forward to subbing a teaspoon or two of instant espresso for the tea, or perhaps simmering the custard mixture with a strip of orange zest - even just a dash of vanilla instead of Earl Grey would make for a nice variation. Go wild.