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Ultimate chocolate pudding

(post, Caroline Cummins)

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Carrie Floyd, our food editor, was raving about a chocolate pudding her daughter made recently, from a Martha Stewart recipe designed to encourage parents to cook with their kids.

So I decided to try it out, although I was a little nonplussed by the instructions to stir the pudding in an ice bath to cool it after cooking it. I've done this for gelatin puddings, but never for a cornstarch pudding. The results? A lot of stirring and a rather grainy texture. And for all that the Martha recipe calls for a ton of melted chocolate chips, the recipe wasn't particularly chocolatey.

So I flipped to the cornstarch-pudding section of my 1990s edition of Joy of Cooking, which promptly admonished me for stirring a cornstarch pudding after it's thickened — a big no-no in the cornstarch-pudding world, apparently. The extra stirring explained the graininess.

OK, then. So what about the lack of chocolate oomph? I flipped through a variety of chocolate-pudding recipes in books and online, and came up with my own version: Creamy Chocolate Pudding. Plenty of dairy, like the Martha recipe. But more cocoa powder to boost the chocolate quotient and a dash of butter for extra richness. 

I think it kicks Martha's kiddie version in the pants.