Chocolate pudding is the sort of lunchbox snack that fails to wow. It's cute and sweet. Not, say, engrossing. Kids like its wiggle. Adults like its milk content. Faint praise.
Recently I was at a diner, the sort that serves throwbacks like fried chicken and meatloaf, done up with handcrafted, farm-raised care.
I ordered the pudding. I'm not sure why. I'm not one for milk, or wiggle. I like a dessert heavily focused on chocolate.
The pudding looked like a winter pond, quiet under a blanket of whipped cream snow. I dipped in a spoon and came up with thick and creamy thoughts. Not wiggly. Not milky. Heavily focused on chocolate.
This grown-up pudding wasn't meant for lunchbox or snack pack. It was sweet-and-savvy enough for Valentine's Day, when the menu is meant not to evoke like. But love.
Shoo-Fly chocolate pudding
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Cool: 2 hours
Pastry chef Sarah Conezio says the success of this pudding is in the ingredients: good milk, good eggs and good chocolate. She relies on Mast Brothers' "Brooklyn Blend."
8 ounces dark (70 percent) chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
5 egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
Whipped cream for serving, optional
1. Prep: In a large serving bowl, toss together chocolate and butter. Set a fine-mesh sieve over the bowl. In another large bowl, sift together cornstarch, cocoa, salt and sugar. Slide yolks into a small bowl.
2. Scald: In a large saucepan, heat milk and cream over medium heat. It may take 10 or more minutes for milk to get steaming hot and for a ring of foamy bubbles to gather at the edges of the pan. (If a skin forms, don't worry; you'll be straining the pudding later.) Pour about 1 cup hot milk over the dry ingredients; whisk smooth. Slide in yolks and whisk smooth. Whisk in about 1 cup more hot milk. Pour this mixture back into the pan with the remaining milk, still over medium heat.
3. Boil: Whisk until pudding thickens and lazy bubbles pop in the center, about 3-4 minutes.
4. Whisk: Pour the hot pudding through the sieve onto the chocolate and butter. Whisk completely smooth.
5. Chill: Let cool a few minutes. Pour into 8 ramekins (or simply leave in the serving bowl). Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Chill completely, at least 2 hours.
6. Serve: Gild, if you like, with whipped cream.
Provenance: Shoo-Fly Diner, Baltimore
Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.