Recently I’ve been on a pudding kick. Perhaps not as virtuous as the hemp seed kick I was on earlier this summer, but no less important. I love pudding. It’s one of the ultimate comfort foods. When I was a child home sick from school, pudding was always my go-to food. My mom made it from scratch, but of course, she used cream.
We are a dairy-free household, so over the years, I’ve been refining my dairy-free chocolate pudding, trying to get it “creamier” without any cream. So, as well as meeting the challenge for you readers who’ve requested allergy-friendly chocolate pudding, I guess this was also sort of a personal challenge. Creamy dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, chocolate pudding. It just had to be done.
Finding the Right Starch
The key to creating a vegan pudding is starch, as I discussed in last week's challenge “Vegan Crème Brulee”.
But what kind of starch? They’re not always interchangeable. I don’t love the taste of potato starch in sweets, and prefer milder tapioca. So I tried making this recipe with tapioca starch, for those avoiding corn as well. It does work, so if you must, go for it. But it’s not perfect. Cornstarch is the racehorse in this particular recipe, going the distance in perfect stride. For whatever chemical reason, that I have yet to comprehend (Alton Brown, I need you!), the tapioca starch thickens the pudding initially, but then thins out again after cooking. Cornstarch thickens, and then stays that way. I did not have any arrowroot starch, but I’d be interested to know how it performs in the recipe, if any of you try it.
The final secret ingredient in this recipe is a tiny bit of liquor. 1/4 teaspoon per serving. That’s less than a “nip”, as they used to say. If you don’t want to include it, it’s not necessary, but it boosts the flavor that extra little notch.
P.S. Sorry I missed blogging last week, but I was in Chicago working on an exciting new project with Enjoy Life! Details soon!
Vegan (soy-free!) Chocolate Pudding
This pudding was such a hit with my kids that my older son tried stealing his brother's portion after he finished his own. You might want to double the recipe if you have more than one child.
- 2 3/4 cups rice milk
- 1/2 cup Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cognac, or brandy, or rum (optional)
- Fresh raspberries, optional
1. Combine 2 1/2 cups rice milk, chocolate chips, and cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk well, heating until the chocolate chips are completely melted and combined with the rice milk. Keep just below a boil, to "scald" rice milk. Remove from heat.
2. In a bowl, combine cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Whisk well.
3. Add remaining 1/4 cup rice milk to cornstarch mixture, stirring until smooth.
4. Add to rice milk/chocolate mixture, stirring with a whisk. Continue whisking until pudding thickens to the consistency that it coats the back of a metal spoon.
5. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract (and cognac).
6. Divide evenly among 4 ramekins or custard cups. Chill. Serve as is or topped with fresh raspberries.
Vegan (soy-free!) Chocolate Pudding
© 2010 by Cybele Pascal
(Please note that all my recipes are completely free of all top allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, and gluten), so as many people as possible can enjoy them. Additionally, all the ingredients are available at Whole Foods, and online at Amazon.com. If you have trouble finding something, let me know and I’ll help you find it.)
SAFETY NOTE: Because each person's food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concerns beforeconsumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.
Cybele Pascal is the award-winning author of "The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook" and the "Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook." She lives in Los Angeles with her food-allergic family: husband Adam, sons Lennon and Monte, and their dogs, Izzie and Carly (who also has food allergies). Please visit her website at CybelePascal.com.