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The first Friday of every monthI blog INA FRIDAYS (all Ina Garten recipes) with a great group of cooks.  Scroll down nearly to the bottom to check out the list of blogs participating, then read up and cook some Ina this weekend!  ♥♥♥

This post is dedicated to my friend Chaya and all those she loves.

Chocolate pudding.  The words bring smiles to faces. Raised eyebrows.  We picture kids with big chocolate smiles or toddlers with their fingers in the bowl, going straight from the high chair to the bathtub when the last of the pudding is gone.  In the U.S. and maybe in quite a few other places, those words also bring to mind a box that looks something like this:

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(courtesy JELLO)

And I have no beef with that box, having opened it a time or two myself when my kids were little.  In fact, it took a few years of cooking for me to realize that our simple box pudding was basically a bit quicker and not-so-rich version of pastry cream--in the vanilla flavor, I mean.  Scratch, or homemade, pudding — pastry cream’s luscious, but spoonable poor relation — is worth the extra few minutes it takes to make; there’s no doubt.  The chocolate version is, if possible, even better.  (Click here for a bona fide Emeril chocolate pastry cream recipe. Scroll down for link to Ina’s pudding recipe.)  Instead of having the sugar, cornstarch, and flavoring (vanilla extract or real chocolate) dried up in the box how many eons ago, you add them yourself, fresh,  in two shakes of a stick.

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Once you’ve tried this, you’ll never go back to boxed puddings and, since it’s a beautiful and perfect treat, you’ll have an easy dessert for company with no baking.  Buy some drop-dead gorgeous clear glass small serving bowls or use crystal or cut-glass on the rocks glasses.  If you by chance have inherited a relative’s sherbet stems or some old martini glasses, they both work perfectly, too.  (Try Good Will or consignment shops for your very own glasses if no one thought to leave you theirs.) Garnishes make a world of difference.  Try a little whipped cream, fresh fruit, jam mixed with brandy, or grated chocolate.  I’ve even done a tiny spoonful of hot fudge and a few chopped almonds on top of homemade vanilla pudding.  

(below:  naked puddings)

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For my favorite vanilla pudding recipe, check out Ruth Cousineau’s Brandied Fig Vanilla Pudding on Epicurious.  First make Ina’s Double Chocolate Pudding and then, immediately afterward, make Ruth Cousineau’s.  (Parfait, anyone?)  It’s my go-to fast company dessert and I’ve even made it for 20 or more people at a time. (Just for fun:  find other Ruth Cousineau desserts here.) 

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Here’s how I made Ina’s Double Chocolate Pudding:

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I began with excellent cocoa and semi-sweet chocolate:

(Penzey’s and Guiradelli, respectively):

IMG_5259 IMG_5264Here:   heating the milk in my old Le Creuset pot I keep around for just such things:
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Meanwhile, I separated six eggs, keeping the whites for tomorrow’s breakfast.IMG_5270Beating the egg yolks and sugar:
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Beating in cocoa and cornstarch:IMG_5277Bringing milk to a boil:
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I poured the milk slowly into the chocolate mixture and then poured it all back into the pot and cooked it slowly until it thickened.
IMG_5285 Off the heat, I added heavy cream, vanilla extract, butter, and then the chopped chocolate.IMG_5287 I let it all melt together, stirred it, et voila:  homemade chocolate pudding.IMG_5288

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I topped mine with whipped cream and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon a la Vienna.

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Ina’s Double Chocolate pudding recipe is online (click), but it’s also in one of my favorite cookbooks, INA GARTEN : BAREFOOT CONTESSA PARTIES! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That Are Really Fun.

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What did I think?  Could it be improved? Would I have changed anything?

This pudding was “A” pudding, but perhaps not A+ pudding.  The process was  a bit cumbersome and I think it could have been made a little easier.  I also thought the flavor, though excellent, could have used a boost in the chocolate department.  If I make it again, I’ll increase the cocoa and maybe try one of Ina’s own tricks — a bit of instant coffee.

The recipe says this makes pudding for 2-3 people.   If that’s so, you’re eating a lot of dessert.  I put my servings in old Pyrex custard cups (pudding was hot), so I most likely spooned in about 1/2 cup pudding into each.  I had enough for six or seven of those small servings–maybe eight, if I stretched it.

Could it be lighter?  I think it could, but it would take some work and this is, after all, dessert.  Have to?  Here are some ideas:   I’m not sure you could lessen the amount of sugar; it’s not that much anyway.  You might be able to cut the egg yolks or use egg whites in place of some.  You might skip or cut down the butter. You could change the heavy cream to skim milk at the end and skip the whipped cream totally.  Sliced strawberries or chopped nuts might work just as well.

Really want or need it lighter for health reasons? You might try the Brown Eyed Baker’s Chocolate Pudding — no eggs at all and no whipping cream.  Looks good!

A little chocolate stuff and fluff:

Click here for:  Huff Post 10 Reasons Chocolate is Good for You

[1730]
“Chocolate Puddings. 
To a Pint of Cream take eight Eggs, the Whites of four, beat them well together, and mingle with your Cream; put in some Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Ginger, a quarter of a Pound of Naples Bisket, and a quarter of a Pound of Chocolate grated very fine, put in a little Orange-Flower Water, and a little Citron minc’d; mingle it mighty well together, and if you bake it, put a Sheet of Puff-paste in your Dish, and raise a little Border in the Rim, put in your Pudding and cross-bar it, and ice it with thick Butter and Sugar, and bake it in a gentle Oven, and when bak’d serve it away, or you may boil it if you please.”
The Complete Practical Cook, Charles Carter, facsimile 1730 edition [Gale Ecco Print Edition:Detroit] (p. 106)

Just for fun, here’s the link to a dessert recipe –not chocolate, though —  from the newest Ina cookbook (not out yet–she’s just finishing it):  Make-Ahead Zabaglione with Amaretti.  Check it out on barefootcontessa.com.

 ALL ABOUT INA FRIDAYS:

This month we have desserts, but next month — in April–we have gorgeous Appetizers to welcome spring.
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Stop in and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up today or any day.  All writers will not participate every month, but check out the blogs anyway.
Upcoming 2014 Ina Fridays :
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  April 4:  Appetizer/Drinks    May 2:  SSS   June 6:  Main Course   July 4:  Dessert/Other August 1: Appetizer/Drinks   Sept 5: SSS  Oct 3:  Main Course Nov 7: Dessert/Other  Dec 5:  Appetizer/Drinks 
SSS= Soup, Salad, or Side
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Want to join our group?  If you’d like to blog each month, email me at afmorgan53@yahoo.com for further information.  If you’d like to join in just once in a while, click on the linky at the end of the post and follow the prompts the first Friday of any month.  Please link Ina recipes only!  Thanks!!
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Sing a new song,
Alyce
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