I haven’t done a comparison post for awhile and for my return post I decided to tackle a classic dessert: Chocolate Pudding! Pudding is one of those simple desserts that everyone should know how to make. It is easy to whip up with ingredients that most people keep on hand and can be tweaked to create different flavors with little trouble. However, the lure of instant pudding mixes has removed this simple recipe from the repertoire of many home cooks. I decided to make a recipe of homemade chocolate pudding and see if the extra effort yielded a tastier pudding or if I should just stick to the boxed mix.
Many recipes for chocolate pudding use cocoa powder as the only “chocolate” ingredient, but I found that this made the pudding too sweet and bland for my taste. I tried mixing some chopped bittersweet chocolate into the pudding right after cooking it and the results were fantastic! It added just a little extra chocolatey richness and made the texture silky smooth. You can also whisk in 1 teaspoon of espresso powder along with the cocoa to make an easy mocha flavored pudding.
Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding
Makes about 4 cups
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups 2% milk
4 large egg yolks
2 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and cocoa powder until well blended. Slowly add the milk, whisking the whole time, making sure that the cornstarch dissolves completely. Whisk in the egg yolks.
2. Put the pan over medium-low heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the pudding thickens and just begins to bubble, about 10 minutes.
3. Remove pudding from heat and immediately stir in the butter, vanilla and chopped chocolate. Stir until butter and chocolate are completely melted and incorporated. Pour the pudding into a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and press through with a rubber spatula to remove any lumps or pieces of cooked egg. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing it into the surface of the pudding, and chill for 3 hours before serving.
I couldn’t wait for the pudding to cool before doing a little taste test, so my original results were a little skewed by the fact that the homemade pudding was still warm. I really prefer my pudding warm and a little softer than usual, so at first taste, I much preferred the homemade pudding. After letting both puddings cool for a few hours, my preference remained. Both the texture and the flavor of the homemade pudding was much more pleasant than that of the pudding made from a mix. When tasted next to homemade pudding, the instant pudding tasted quite salty and didn’t have a strong chocolate flavor at all. The texture of the boxed pudding was also inferior as it seemed rather gloppy and gelatinous while the homemade pudding was deliciously smooth. There were three testers on this comparison (including me) and we all agreed that the homemade pudding was much tastier than the pudding made from a mix.
Although the homemade pudding won out on flavor, it definitely loses when it comes to convenience. What with chopping chocolate, measuring ingredients and whisking (not to mention 3 hours of cooling time), the homemade pudding requires a lot more effort than instant. Instant pudding also won on price as it cost about 25 cents less per cup, mostly due to the high price of using real cocoa powder and chocolate in the homemade pudding.
Bottom Line: As with many foods, homemade pudding is more time consuming than making pudding from a mix and also more expensive. However, after tasting it side by side with instant pudding, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat instant again. Homemade pudding is definitely worth the extra effort and cost; you will not believe how much better it tastes!