Wednesday, March 07, 2012
COCONUT CHOCOLATE PUDDING
After taking a short hiatus, my pudding obsession is slowly creeping back again! I’ve also been on quite a coconut kick lately, from various curried soups to experimentation with coconut oil (Have you tried it yet? It’s pretty exciting so far—I’ve used it in granola, banana cake, and curried coconut carrot soup, all with excellent results). So naturally this recipe from A Cozy Kitchen jumped to the top of my list, because coconut and chocolate is a combination I can never resist (it even rivals chocolate and peanut butter as my all-time fave). Replacing the usual dairy with coconut milk and skipping the eggs makes it vegan, which isn’t necessarily something I was looking for, but it’s always nice to have a few tricks up your sleeve in case friends with special dietary needs come calling. For me, it was convenient because I could still have pudding when the craving struck, even though I didn’t happen to have any extra eggs or milk in the fridge that week. I was slightly suspicious about the lack of eggs (every other pudding I’ve made has used them) and the use of maple syrup as a sweetener (hippies!), but sure enough, the pudding thickened up just fine and the maple flavor was undetectable, although I’m sure you could use an equivalent amount of regular white sugar if you prefer it. When I tasted the pudding after cooking it didn’t seem very sweet, which worried me a little, but after chilling it was perfectly well balanced and, as if there was any doubt, extremely delicious. It was also even quicker and easier than making regular pudding, if such a thing is possible, because you don’t have to temper the eggs or worry about the milk boiling or scalding—coconut milk seems much less temperamental than cow’s.
I usually avoid the Trader Joe’s coconut milk because the only kind they sell is “light” and it’s very watery, but a note in the original recipe assured me it would work OK and it did. The coconut milk imparts only a subtle flavor, which is great for people who are primarily looking for a vegan chocolate pudding, but if what you want is a true Mounds-bar effect, I’d recommend helping it along with a bit of coconut extract, as I did. Otherwise, the only change I wish I’d made was to sift or strain my cocoa and cornstarch together, because my finished pudding had a few lumps, so I added instructions to do this below.
1 14-ounce can coconut milk (light is fine), divided
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
A pinch of salt
¼ cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼–½ teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
1. Shake the can of coconut milk vigorously for a few seconds before opening. In a heavy saucepan, bring 1¼ cups coconut milk, the maple syrup, and the salt to a simmer over medium heat.
2. While that is heating, in a separate bowl sift together the cornstarch and the cocoa powder, then whisk in the remaining coconut milk until the mixture is smooth.
3. When the coconut milk and maple syrup mixture has just started simmering, turn the heat down to low. Slowly add in the cocoa mixture while vigorously whisking the whole time. Keep whisking until the pudding thickens up a bit, about a minute.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and continue whisking for about a minute while it cools slightly. Whisk in the chocolate chips and vanilla and keep stirring until the pudding is smooth. Transfer to small bowls and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. (If you want to prevent a skin from forming, press plastic up against the surface of the pudding.)
Time: 20 minutes
Leftover potential: Good for a few days.