When I want to make dessert with the kids, I always think of chocolate pudding (besides chocolate chip cookies, of course). It’s not too hard to make, it’s slightly nutritious given the milk, and kids love to stir it. The cornstarch and cocoa dissolve best when mixed with just enough liquid to saturate the powders and make a paste. Otherwise, they’ll form clumps that won’t cook out.
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 cup half-and-half
2 cups whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon creme de cacao, Godiva chocolate liqueur, or pure vanilla extract
1 cup whipped cream, for garnish (optional)
Place the cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt, and sugar in a small (2-to-3-quart) saucepan and whisk to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, half-and-half, and milk together until combined. Pour a couple of tablespoons of the egg yolk mixture into the dry ingredients in the saucepan, whisking well to make a thick paste (this will help prevent lumps). Slowly whisk in the rest of the egg mixture, a little at a time, making sure it’s incorporated before adding more.
Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, whisking steadily but not furiously, until thickened and just starting to boil. (You need to stir constantly – make sure to get the sides – to prevent scorching, but don’t stir vigorously or you’ll break the cornstarch granules and the pudding won’t set up). Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook at a gentle simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until melted.
Whisk in the creme de cacao, chocolate liqueur or vanilla extract. If there are any lumps. strain the pudding through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl.
Pour the pudding into 1-cup serving dishes or cups. If you don’t like a skin (I do!), place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of each pudding. Chill until cold, about 4 hours. Serve alone or with whipped cream, if desired.