I've said this before, but it bears repeating: Nobody should ever buy pudding mix. Because making pudding is so, so easy. Like ridiculously easy. There are definitely things, occasionally learned the hard way, that are best left to professionals. But pudding? It's just a wee bit of measuring, some heating and stirring. It takes one pot. And it tastes fantastic.
This pudding has simple pantry ingredients (cornstarch, sugar, and chocolate), stirred up gently with some regular old milk. Why, that's nearly healthy! Because it gets its thickness from both the cornstarch and solid chocolate (vs cornstarch and cocoa), it has a lovely, slippery-yet-spoon-clingingly-rich texture. You can fancy everything up with a dollop of barely-sweetened whipped cream and a some shavings of chocolate, but really it's not even necessary. You mix it up, you spoon out the rich-yet-light creaminess, and you wonder why it's been so long. And who convinced you that you needed those packets in the first place.
One-Pot Chocolate Pudding
adapted from Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate, via Smitten Kitchen
1/4 cup (30 grams) cornstarch
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces (170 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (28 grams, 1/2 ounce) unsalted butter, cut into pats
lightly sweetened whipped cream and shaved chocolate for serving (optional)
Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan, Slowly whisk in the milk, in a thin stream at first so that lumps don’t form, then more quickly once the cornstarch mixture is smoothly incorporated. Place over medium-low heat and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Whisk occasionally. Have 6 little dishes at the ready.
As the mixture heats (it'll take over 10 minutes, but that's fine), it should begin to thicken. Whisk more frequently at this point. When it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (it'll be a bit steamy at this point), add the chocolate. Stir for another 2 to 4 minutes, until chocolate is fully melted and mixture is even thicker.
Remove from heat, and add the vanilla and butter. Let sit a moment for the butter to soften, then stir to incorporate. Pour mixture into dishes, and chill until cool and set (about 2 to 3 hours). If desired, top with whipped cream and chocolate before serving