I've done chocolate pudding many, many ways over the years. And it's nearly always good. But from this day forward if you come to my house for dinner, and I decide chocolate pudding might be a nice finish to the meal, this is the recipe I'll be using. It's from a whimsical, illustrated French children's cookbook published by Random House in 1966, La Patisserie est un Jeu d'Enfants, with text and drawings by Michel Oliver. The pudding completely caught me off-guard, in the best way possible.
This is not like a typical American chocolate pudding, it has no milk, cocoa powder, or cornstarch - which makes sense because it is from a French book. This is more of a deep, concentrated, dark chocolate mousse, although if you're used to chocolate mousse that has whipped cream folded in, it's different from that as well. The key here is good chocolate, then a gentle touch bringing a short list of common ingredients together, and the bit of patience required to let the pudding cool and set. That last part makes all the difference. Time in the refrigerator allows the pudding to set into the densest dark chocolate cloud imaginable, the consistency of whipped frosting. I'll make note in the recipe below, but you'll want to use good-quality chocolate in the 60-80% range - semi-sweet to bittersweet. Aside from the chocolate, you're only adding a bit of water and butter, a sprinkling of sugar, and two eggs, so don't skimp on the quality of ingredients here, there's really no place to hide.
As you can see up above here, the book itself is incredibly charming. The edition I have alternates French and English pages, so you'll have a page in French, then the same page in English. The French title for this recipe is "Glissade" which they've translated on the following English page to Slippery Chocolate Pudding - which made me smile. Keep your eyes peeled, you can find copies of La Patisserie est un Jeu d'Enfants (Making French Desserts and Pastry is Child's Play) here and there if you look around.
Glissade Chocolate Pudding
Use the best quality chocolate you can get your hands on - preferably in the 60-80% range. Also, this is the perfect make-ahead dessert, you can absolutely make it a day ahead of time. I've also done it with muscovado/brown sugar - A+! Also, as noted below, this recipe does feature raw egg* - I buy and use the best eggs I can, keep them refrigerated, and am personally comfortable with the risk (and I always mention if I'm serving something with raw egg in it). But it's really up to each individual to make the call. The standard disclaimer recommends children, pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone with an immune system disorder should avoid eating uncooked egg because of salmonella risk.
2 eggs, brought to room temperature shortly before using*
6 ounces / 170 g good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons fine grain sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
fine grain sea salt
to top: heavy cream, loosely whipped, slightly sweetened (optional)
Separate the whites and yolks of the eggs. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold very stiff peaks.
Combine the chocolate, water, sugar, butter, and a pinch of salt in a double boiler. If you don't have a double-boiler, you can fashion one by combining the ingredients in a medium stainless steel bowl, and then placing this bowl atop a small simmering saucepan of water. The idea is to apply just enough gentle heat to melt the chocolate. Stir until the ingredients come together smoothly. Remove from heat, and beat in the egg yolks. Add the egg whites, and fold gently until the pudding is uniform in texture. Pour the pudding into serving cups or glasses, and chill well - preferably for a few hours. Serve topped with a bit of whipped cream.
*This recipe does use raw egg - children, pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone with an immune system disorder should avoid eating uncooked egg because of salmonella risk.
Adapted from La Patisserie est un Jeu d'Enfants by Michel Oliver. Published by Random House, 1966.
Prep time: 3 minutes - Cook time: 5 minutes