Old Fashioned Chocolate Cornstarch Pudding


If you have loved-ones , what sweeter, homey way to show them your affection than to make this comforting, old-fashioned chocolate pudding on Valentine’s or any other day.

We are temped left and right to go the high end chocolate route, make an elegant mousse, or flour-less chocolate cake, or acquire jazzy chocolates with red pepper in them or salt on them. There are lots of ways to go over the top, and I like that, too, sometimes. This dessert, however, is within nearly anyone’s reach.

I love this stuff and I’ll bet I am not the only one that really likes the skin that forms on the top of a real cornstarch pudding. In fact, it is tempting to pour this whole recipe into a big rectangular dish so it is about an inch thick and has a quarter acre of skin on it. Well, I exaggerate. And I know you can buy these ingredients boxed up ready to cook, but why not measure out your own three tablespoons of cornstarch and half cup of sugar, and then tweak the chocolate quantity perfectly to taste?

This recipe, based on a classic one, probably from a very old Joy of Cooking, calls for two ounces of unsweetened chocolate squares. I’ve used semi-sweet, and pieces of a big bar of 72% cocoa. I’ve added a tablespoon of Dutch processed baking cocoa powder, even chocolate chips, when I didn’t have other forms of chocolate. Good old cornstarch pudding just absorbs it all and turns out a smooth, chocolaty pudding every time.

I use my heavy stainless steel saucepan for this recipe. I put the chocolate, sugar, and milk together and the chocolate melts in the heating milk. I use a whisk, sand keep the temperature low to medium and I don’t turn my back once it begins to thicken. I pour it into individual dessert glasses to cool. It’s good with whipped cream on top.

Chocolate Cornstarch Pudding

1-2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate squares

½ cup sugar

1 ¾ cup milk

Pinch salt

3 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ cup cold milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

In the top of a double boiler or in a heavy bottomed pan, heat the milk, sugar, and chocolate stirring it until the chocolate is all melted. Whisk together the cornstarch in the remaining quarter cup of milk, and pour slowly into the hot milk and chocolate mixture, stirring steadily. Cook over a medium low temperature until it is quite thick. Pour into dishes to cool.

Makes four to five servings.

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.