“hot” chocolate pudding
Do you remember the Yo-Go Gorilla?
He was one of the Bean’s favourite advertising-based-cartoon characters, which is to say, he beat out the Coco Pops Monkey, the Froot Loops Toucan and the greasy peanut butter guy that sang like Elvis.
I’m not sure what it was about him. The testy relationship he had with his snake friend, the vigour with which he downed his chocolate yogurt snack (more cocoa than chocolate, more starch than yoghurt). Maybe it was his muscles and hairy chest.
We didn’t get to actually eat any yogo when we were younger – my mother had far too much nutritional sense to believe that a chocolate flavoured gloop would have the same benefits as yoghurt, despite the name – but every now and then we’d sneak a spoonful from a friend and revel in its chilled, chocolatey glory.
I was actually working on a hot chocolate recipe, when I came up with this pudding.
All of the cold weather had me thinking of our warm, sun-kissed Italian honeymoon. Strolling the streets of Florence, hiking the cliffs of the Cinque Terre, holding onto our seats (and anything else we could reach) as we darted through the streets of Napoli in the back of a taxi.
But mostly, it had me thinking of breakfasts in Milan.
Every morning, we would wander down the road from our little apartment in the canal district to a little shop, following the most amazing smell of butter and sugar. Inside, you could get a traditional Milanese breakfast. A shot of espresso and a cornetti – like a buttery croissant, but filled with creme patisserie.
Being our honeymoon, and being the lover of small luxuries that I am, espresso became an Italian hot chocolate most mornings, to the amusement of the cafe owner who explained to us later in the week that cioccolata calda was usually a treat reserved for people much younger than myself.
It was worth the mild embarrassment.
You see, hot chocolate in Italy is nothing like the usual oversweetened, over-milky, powdery stuff we get here. It is thick. Spoonable. Slightly bitter and creamy without that lingering fatty film that would usually coat your mouth. It thickens even more as it cools, leaving you with a warm chocolate soup that coats the last couple of mouthfuls of cornetti perfectly.
And so, with visions of a perfect, Italian hot chocolate in mind, I set to work trying to recreate it. Only, I got distracted somewhere along the way, added a bit too much cornflour, couldn’t finish the large pot I’d made and popped it in the fridge to keep while figuring out what to do next.
That night, while looking at the semi-set mixture and wondering if I should try to reheat it, then looking around my disaster of a kitchen, I absent-mindedly popped a spoonful in my mouth.
Angels sang. I swear.
“It’s exactly how I imagined yogo would taste, and then I go and buy it, and then I’m disappointed. But not today!” exclaimed the Bean, in between mouthfuls, while her husband looked on patiently, waiting his turn.
“I feel like you might need to make another batch. For, um, more testing? I’ll help you eat it.” said her husband, eyeing off the rest of the cup.
“So, were you planning on taking the rest home, or leaving it here?” asked my dad, hoping that I’d answer with the latter.
And so, hot chocolate. But chilled into pudding. Spoonable like yoghurt. Warm with a hint of cinnamon & cayenne. But chillled, like you will be after eating a little bit more than you probably should have.
- 1 litre whole milk
- 1 cup whole milk powder
- 350g chocolate, either cut into shards or as meltable chocolate chips (I used 51% cocoa)
- 1 tbsp & 1 tsp wheaten cornflour
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- Put the milk and milk powder into a large saucepan and heat, whisking it all together, until it is starting to bubble and boil.
- Remove the milk from the heat and dump all of the chocolate in at once, whisking rapidly, so that it dissolves and doesn't stick to the bottom. Keep whisking until all of the chocolate is dissolved.
- Add the cornflour, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and whisk again until it is dissolved.
- Put the saucepan back onto the heat and reheat it until it starts to bubble and boil, whisking slowly as it heats. It will start to thicken. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes to allow the cornflour to cook through.
- You can drink it as is, or decant into smaller jars and leave it to cool in the fridge to set into a luscious chocolate pudding.