Why, you ask, Chocolate Pudding?  

 

Pop Pudding Maria SpeckI had this amazing pudding recipe, ready for a blog post. Ready as in triple tested. For Valentine’s Day 2014. Then I remembered it again, before Valentine’s 2015. But something or the other interfered. Like a cookbook that needed to be written.

Also, I hadn’t posted in a long while. So I felt that this post had to arrive with a bang. And, in my case, the pressure was on to write something about ancient grains, of course. Certainly not about pudding. And if this is not enough pressure, believe me, I will find more pressures to pile onto myself. I’m a perfectionist. Even in piling on pressures. So Valentine’s Day came and went. And came. And went. And still no blog post (for more, see my last post).

Weeks and weeks

This went on for weeks: Why pudding? Why not any of the countless unpublished recipes every food writer has on his or her hard drive? Why not something with trending freekeh, sorghum, teff? “Who cares!” responded my no-nonsense husband. I am sure he was secretly hoping for another round of testing. He loves the stuff. “I owe it to my readers,” it kept screaming inside my head.

Until last night

Somewhere on my computer, the proverbial proof for my pudding.

“Refreshingly, she covers—and then dismisses—the subject of eating whole grains for health in the first half-dozen pages. She’s interested in flavor first, texture second and history along with both.”

Julia Moskin, New York Times

Here’s to year-round chocolate for dessert. And pudding. With tofu. Yes, tofu that is. Thank you, Julia.

At last, the Other Chocolate Pudding

All my life I’ve been fond of rich chocolate puddings and silky mousse, and I will try any new recipe that comes my way, with cream, eggs, or Greek yogurt—except one that is made with tofu. Tofu does not belong in chocolate. Absolutely not! Take this from someone who has cooked with tofu all her life. But I’m also one of those people who tire of the fact that we have to wrap everything in chocolate or hide it in a brownie to get us to eat it (beets and kale brownies anyone?). Admittedly, I too sometimes get excited when someone does something strange with chocolate.

So when the venerable Mark Bittman of the New York Times lauded his Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It looked last-minute-easy. And maybe, just maybe, it might be acceptable, I whispered to myself. I was also staring at two boxed containers of silken tofu which needed to be cleared from my pantry.

So I combined chocolate and tofu. And combined it again. And again. And it turned out not only acceptable but incredible—in a fascinating thick, rich, and magical way. And we fell for it. And couldn’t detect any of the—what you might find objectionable—beany taste of soy. In short, this pudding is majestic. That’s why I call it the other chocolate pudding.

Pop pudding #2 Maria SpeckI have tweaked Bittman’s recipe. I use less processed turbinado sugar and super-dark 70% chocolate, and overall much less sugar (about one third of the original). I also added a bit of citrus and glug of Grand Marnier because a little booze adds a lot of flavor (feel free to omit it). For a sweeter more pleasing pudding, especially for children, use bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate with about 55% cocoa content.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1/4 cup (2 ounces) turbinado sugar
5 ounces dark chocolate (70%), coarsely chopped into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces, plus shavings for garnish (optional)
12 ounces silken tofu, preferably drained (see Fine Points)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other good-quality orange liqueur
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1 Add 1/2 cup water and the sugar to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the sugar is completely dissolved, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

2 Meanwhile, add the chocolate to a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high in 30-second-intervals until melted, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring well each time in between.

3 Add the tofu, sugar-water, chocolate, vanilla extract, and cinnamon, to the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a steel blade. Process until very smooth, 30 to 40 seconds, and scraping down the sides at least once in between. This will take a little longer than you think because it looks smooth after 10 seconds already but keep the button pressed for a much nicer outcome. Add Grand Marnier and orange zest and process briefly to combine. Spoon into small serving bowls and chill for at least 60 minutes—it will firm as it cools. Garnish with a chocolate shavings or a dollop of softly whipped cream.

Fine Points

This pudding can be made ahead. It will last a few days in the fridge.
Do not use fat-free silken tofu as your dessert will get an unpleasant gritty texture.
Draining of the tofu is not mandatory but you get a richer creaminess which I like. How do you drain tofu? I simply wrap a block of tofu in a clean dish towel or use a few layers of paper towels, and set the package on a plate. Alternately, you can place a block of tofu into a colander which you set on a shallow plate, or put into the sink. Place a smaller plate right on top of the tofu, and weigh it down with a large can. Allow tofu to drain or sit for 10 to 20 minutes.

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