one of the first dishes my brother and i learned to make all on our own was this wonderful, very simple, home made chocolate pudding. we used to have to stand on stools to be able to peek into the pots. i don’t recall where the recipe for this originally came from, but i assume it was my nonna’s signature dessert, back in the days, and was passed on to my mom. in any case, rest assured this chocolate pudding has been in our family forever, and we’ve made it again and again for school dos, family outings, picknicks, potlucks and the like. in other words: it’s bullet proof. it’s super simple. it’s nostalgia in a pot.
whenever i pull this pudding recipe out (although i know how to make it by heart, but then again, i love a good hand-crawled recipe on my counter to work around) to make these days, i always think it’s been too long since the last time i made it. the texture is rich but creamy, without being too sweet. it’s home made from scratch (honestly, why do we even have to stress this? yet, there appear to be some people who think “puddings” are home made by ripping open a packet, which is kind of a saddening fact). it only takes 5 ingredients (for the pudding) to make – ingredients that you find in any well-stocked pantry, i.e. milk, sugar, a tablet of dark chocolate (lindt crémant noir 49% for me, it’s that or nothing in my kitchen), vanilla and corn starch. nothing too fancy. all the spotlight is on the chocolate, as it should be.
as children, we used to be well-known for our pudding-skills and were often asked to bring a large (more often than not 5 liter) bowl full of the good stuff to parties and events. my mom would whisk one up and i’d proudly transport it to school or a neighbor’s house. it was always the star among the kids. this time around though, i wanted to spike our family pudding and turn it into something more grown-up and sophisticated, for a picnic al fresco. i decided to try it with a layer of crunchy but soaked amaretto cookie crumbs, and added a drizzle of amaratto, for good measure. apropos, i do love all things amaretto, it’s such an elegant and complex taste. turns out, it harmonizes beautifully with dark chocolate. so the next time around, i’m probably making a batch of amaretto sours (my favorite cocktail, by the way).
when the pudding was made, we set out to go for our impromptu picnic. we had a vision of a colorful al fresco dessert table, featuring apricots that were very sweet and ripe and the first cherries and also scones and clotted cream apart from the chocolate pudding, just because we can. we took with us a lot of things – blankets, pillows, even a tiny table – to make the picnic a special experience. we found a nice spot and set up camp and enjoyed the scene – for about five minutes before it began to pour down. only one intense wind sweep was the indicator that a thunder might arrive. being the optimists that we are we simply ignored it. luckily, my mom saved her hair (with a blanket) and i saved the puddings from the rain. we brought them home safely and continued our picnic semi-indoors, perched half on the floor of my bedroom and half on the balcony, to watch the rain. turns out, too, that chocolate puddings are indeed grown-up-suitable, and also a very good alternative to a rained on picnic.
simple chocolate pudding – for grown-ups
serves 4 (recipe can easily be adapted to more)
1/2 liter full-fat milk
100 g lindt crémant noir 49%
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
1 cup (hard) amaretto cookies / amarettinis, crushed
8 tbsp. amaretto (about 2 per portion / jar)
whipped cream and berries for garnish
prepare the jars first: rinse them under cold water. crush the amarettinis by hand, roughly, and divide between the jars. drizzle with about 2 tbsp. of amaretto per jar. then heat the milk in a large pot together with the sugar, cornstarch and vanilla, stirring constantly, until it thickens up. remove from the heat. break the chocolate into pieces and add to the hot milk. stir well until the chocolate is fully melted and incorporated. pour into jars, then sprinkle some sugar on top so that no skin develops. let cool. shortly before serving, whip cream and place a dollop on top of each pudding. garnish with an amarettino or a berry. seal the lids to transport to your destination of choice or enjoy straight away.