Naturally sweetened Mexican chocolate pudding

Those of you who follow my instagram feed might recall last month how I spent the majority of my kitchen time obsessed with making pudding. My first go at pudding was for my book club meeting discussing our last book, Milk by Anne Mendelson. (I loved the book by the way, a must read for anyone interested in the history, science and everything else to do with cow dairy!)

Anne’s recipe for chocolate pudding got my attention, primarily because a. I had all the ingredients, b. I could make it the day before book club and c. I had Mast Brothers baking chocolate burning a hole in my pantry shelf. I’m including a recipe below, but it is hardly modified from the original in Mendelson’s book, which was attributed to Fannie Farmer.

I haven’t tried using other kinds of milks, but cornstarch is cornstarch and would probably bind whatever milk product you and your gut approve of. Please do keep me posted if you try it with dairy milk alternatives!

Mexican Chocolate Pudding

yields 4 ~8oz servings

1. Heat in a large saucepan over low heat 1-3/4 cups whole milk (or any percentage of milk plus cream) with 2 oz semi- or bittersweet chocolate. Adding any amount of cream will make your pudding resemble one of my most favorite desserts ever, pots de creme.

2. While the milk and chocolate reaches a simmer, combine the following in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine:

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar (or regular white, brown, or whatever sugar you want)

3 Tbs cornstarch

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

3. Add 1/4 cup cold milk to the dry mixture and whisk thoroughly until smooth. Set aside.

4. Stir milk and chocolate saucepan contents and continue to stir until chocolate is melted. Raise heat to bring mixture to simmer (med-low) if it is not already simmering. Add contents of the small mixing bowl and stir with a heat-proof spatula and scrape to ensure milk doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pan. Raise heat again to medium.

5. Pudding will begin to thicken and how quickly this happens depends on how much fat is in the milk. If you added cream in any proportion to the milk, thickening will happen very rapidly. Whole milk will take anywhere from 4-8 minutes to thicken. Stir regularly, but not so maniacally that you risk disturbing the starch chains that the cornstarch is trying to pull together. (This line seems fuzzy to me, but roll with it. Your pudding will come

out fine, I’m sure.)

As your pudding begins to thicken, reduce heat to low and keep stirring until it reaches the consistency of the pudding you want to eat.

6. When it gets there, remove saucepan from heat, add 1 tsp vanilla extract and continue to stir mixture to allow it to cool. You will be stirring for the next 10 minutes or so, so get comfortable.

7. When pudding is warm-ish, or just above room temp, scoop it into small ramekins or cups. You can

optionally cut rounds of parchment paper and push them flush with the top of the pudding to prevent a ‘skin’ from forming on the surface. Many people love the ‘skin’, and I’ve deemed it too much hassle to cut rounds (because I don’t want to set plastic wrap directly on the warm, fatty surface of the pudding for toxicity purposes), so we enjoy a little texture on the surface of our pudding cups!

Refrigerate for up to 5 days; condensation and/or any liquid forming on the sides of the cups and surface as they cool is totally normal.

Risotto: Dinner party dish favorite

This is a sponsored post, which means Roth sent me complimentary cheese to work with and also paid me to develop a recipe and share it here. These types of sponsorships allow me to continue to work via the blog as a free avenue for sharing recipes and ideas with readers.

One of our go-to dinner party dishes is risotto, both for economy and richness. I’ve partnered on this series of posts (including my pork belly omelette post last month) with Wisconsin cheesemaker, Roth Grand Cru. The Grand Cru is an Alpine-style cheese, which means Roth follows Swiss tradition and crafting, but uses Wisconsin dairy. When this style of cheese is made in Switzerland, it is called Gruyere, and the name remains regionally specific and tied to Switzerland dairying, like with champagne and other things that got their names from the region in which they started. For this recipe, I used Roth’s Grand Cru Reserve, which is aged for 6-9 months and has a deeper, more mature flavor than the 4-month aged version.

My relationship with risotto began when I chose (and then married) an Italian. From my station in another family’s kitchen during my Brooklyn nanny days, charged with making dinner that 3 pre-teens would eat, I would regularly call my now wife and ask her the proportions of risotto components since random crisper drawer veggies and arborio rice were the what I usually had to work with.

After a few frenzied calls I started to get the hang of this creamy and filling dish and now make it by feel. I’m sharing with you a recipe that will get you started, but please feel free to substitute different veggies to match what’s in season this spring around you (or whatever season it may be).

Spring Vegetable Risotto featuring Roth Grand Cru Reserve

Serves 6

Attention: This is a must-be-present to cook project; once you add the rice to the pan, there’s no stepping away to do anything else. Pour yourself a glass of the wine and plan to hang out and stir for about 20 minutes.

1. Bring 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer.

2. Cut up any combination of onions, carrots, broccoli, pea shoots, radishes, mustard greens, mushrooms or whatever firm vegetables you have on hand to yield 1–2 cups of chopped veggies.

3. Sauté veggies in a large saucepan or French oven for 3–5 minutes in a combination of 2 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 tablespoon butter.

4. Add 1½ cup dry rice to the pan and stir to combine with the sautéed veggies. Let rice soak up the oil; sauté the mixture for two more minutes.

5. (optional) Add ½ cup dry white wine to the pan and stir frequently to allow the rice to absorb the wine.

6. Add 1 cup of the simmering broth to the pan and stir frequently to allow the rice to absorb the liquid. Add more of the simmering stock in ½-cup increments as the risotto continues to thicken and absorb the moisture. Continue this process until you don’t have any more stock.

7. Add ½ cup grated Roth Grand Cru cheese (or the traditional parmesan) to the pan and stir to combine. Garnish plates with some extra grated cheese.