One morning late February, I found not one, but two recipes for chocolate pudding waiting for me in my inbox. CHOCOLATE PUDDING (excitement explained below). The recipes also happened to be from two blogs, The Bitten Word and David Lebovitz's blog, from which I've been meaning to make something for a while now, and if the universe gifts you two chocolate pudding recipes at once, then of course you are obligated do a chocolate pudding mashup.
Chocolate pudding excitement, explained: Chocolate pudding has always been so tantalizing to me. Growing up, we did not regularly have dessert after dinner (in fact Chinese restaurants typically do not serve dessert but bring out a fruit platter at meal's end -- very sensible), and I assumed that everyone else (i.e., all of my white friends) was eating chocolate pudding for dessert every night.
Ever since my law school days of eating lavender milk chocolate ice cream cones from Ici on a near weekly basis, I've loved the combination of lavender and chocolate. My initial idea was to infuse the pudding with lavender, but then decided on adding lavender to David Lebovitz's cacao nib brittle recipe so that the lavender taste could be enjoyed with the pudding, but not overwhelm it.
And with that, go forth and make some chocolate pudding and eat it for dessert every night this weekend!
Chocolate Pudding Topped with Candied Lavender and Cacao Nibs
For the Chocolate Pudding:
Adapted from The Bitten Word
6 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder (natural also works)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sift the cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt into a medium bowl. With a silicone spatula or whisk, slowly mix in the cream, eliminating any visible lumps as you go; the mixture will be quite thick. Mix in the egg yolks until combined. Set aside.
Heat the milk and sugar in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, until the sugar dissolves. When bubbles form around the edge of the milk, remove the pan from the heat. Whisk about half of the sugary hot milk mixture into the cocoa mixture. When smooth, whisk the cocoa mixture into the sugary milk mixture remaining in the pan.
Bring the pudding to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking slowly and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching. The pudding will begin to thicken as it approaches a full boil. Watch for large, lava-like bubbles to roll up to the surface, and for small fast bubbles on the edges. When the pudding has reached this stage, turn the heat down to medium and whisk vigorously for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
Whisk in the vanilla. Transfer the pudding to a shallow container (such as an 8-inch baking dish) and spread it evenly, then press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
Whisk vigorously to loosen the pudding before serving
For the Candied Lavender and Cacao Nibs:
Adapted from David Lebovtiz
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1 tablespoon dried lavender blossoms
Lightly oil a small baking sheet or cake pan. Set aside.
Place the lavender blossoms in a small bowl, and using the back of spoon, firmly press on the blossoms to release the lavender's essential oil.
Spread the 1/4 cup of sugar in a skillet, in an even layer. Heat over medium heat until the edges liquify, then begin to turn an amber color. Using a heatproof spatula, or other utensil, gently stir the liquified sugar in toward the center, stirring the mixture as gently as possible until the liquified sugar is a dark amber color and just begins to smoke.
Remove from heat and immediately stir in the cocoa nibs and lavender blossoms, just enough to that they are coated with the caramel. Scrape them onto the baking sheet / cake pan and spread as best you can, before it hardens. It is not a big deal if it's ends up just being an ugly clump because you will be breaking all of it up anyway. Let the candied lavender and cacao nibs mass harden at room temperature. When cool, crumble into little bits and sprinkle on top of the pudding servings.