Our family wasn’t too much into desserts when I was growing up, but one of my favorite after-dinner treats was—and is—chocolate pudding. Back in the day, that chocolate pudding came from a box, and that’s not bad in a pinch. And I’ve been known to bring home a tub of chocolate pudding from the refrigerator section at Trader Joe’s (darn fine, that is).
But really, the very best pudding is homemade. I can’t believe I only recently tried to make this. The recipe comes from one of our very favorite spots in the world, the Jimtown Store in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley region, just outside Healdsburg. Jimtown dishes up huge cups of this stuff topped, rather unnecessarily, with whipped cream. Making chocolate pudding requires several steps and lots of stirring, but Oh. My. God. This stuff is amazing. Like our house-favorite pasta recipe, Penne with Sausage and Mascarpone, this is so rich it’s best made occasionally. Or weekly. Your call.
the best homemade chocolate pudding recipe
6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
6 Tbsp. plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 cups half-and-half (yes, you read that correctly)
2 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (use good-quality chocolate like Guittard or Ghirardelli)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4-5 pieces
1 Tbsp. good vanilla extract
In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, 6 Tbsp. of the sugar and the cornstarch. Gradually, whisk in 1 cup of the half-and-half and whisk briskly until smooth. Separately, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.
In a heavy saucepan, stir together the remaining 3 cups of half-and-half, 1/2 cup of sugar and salt. Over medium heat, bring this mixture to a simmer. Whisk in the cocoa mixture and bring to a boil—whisking constantly. Cook for about 3 minutes until the mixture is very thick.
Here’s where you need to pay attention: Very carefully pour a thin stream of the hot cocoa mixture into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly. You don’t want the eggs to scramble, so pour slowly and whisk vigorously, until the cocoa mixture and the eggs are thoroughly incorporated. Return this mixture to your saucepan and return it to the stove over low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture just reaches a boil (you want large bubbles coming up from the bottom of the pan).
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips, 1/2 cup at a time, and whisk to incorporate. Add butter, then vanilla. Spoon the pudding into individual serving dishes or transfer it to a bowl. Cool to room temp, then cover and refrigerate.