Monday, September 1

The Chocolate Pudding That Wasn't

It was last time though. It was very good. This time? Something went wrong. I took pictures, chronicling my pudding-making extravaganza, expecting to end with a lush, thick display of rich, dark chocolate. Not this time. Not like last time. Fear not, for you can make this successfully, as Catherine did, as I did before, and as Smitten Kitchen originally posted. But because I'm humble and want to capitalize on a teaching situation, I'll show you what happened. The end result was a less-than-thick pudding that tasted wonderfully chocolaty. The consistency was the problem.

Starting out, I make my own double broiler. The clothes pin, or something like it, is essential to let the steam out. It's smart to put it at the back of the pan to allow the steam to escape out the back and not up on your wrist.

I made a double recipe to use some milk that wasn't going to last much longer, and I used agave nectar in place of the sugar. Not being a pudding expert, I wonder if this did me in right from the beginning. I haven't baked with agave but we like it as a sweetener for coffee, smoothies and yogurt. It gives pure sweetness (as opposed to honey) and is raw and unrefined and doesn't cause your blood sugar to spike. So I tried it with this recipe. Since the cornstarch seems to "make" the pudding, I thought this would be ok. I used up most of the agave I had. I now wish I had saved it for coffee and such. I've since ordered more though, so it's ok.

Since I used agave, I added another tablespoon of cornstarch.

After an hour (AN HOUR) it had only thickened slightly. The recipe calls for 15-20 minutes. I realized it just wasn't getting hot enough to cook. I finally decided to add the chopped chocolate to see what would happen:

The first time I made this pudding, it quickly melted and became smooth and shiny. I finally resorted to straight heat and it started thickening, though a little lumpy. I think during all this I added even more cornstarch (whisked into a little water first to be lump-free; don't dump it straight in). I was so ready to be done with it that I stopped there and put it in dishes.

When I tried it after it chilled, it tasted GREAT and with a full chocolate flavor. The only problem was it was set very firm.

My mom didn't think the double broiler was actually necessary since there wasn't anything to curdle. Maybe the double broiler cuts down on the lumps though.


Catherine said...

If the only thing you changed was the agave, maybe that was the culprit. I wouldn't have expected that though, but I don't know much about agave.

Great pictures anyway!

Shannon said...

Sorry, Alicia! That is so disappointing to invest in ingredients and have it turn out poorly!!

You lost heat twice. Once by not using granulated sugar which helps raise temperature. Second by putting that clothes pin on the side. I have a double boiler, but I've also used a glass bowl with good success (like you did). Only you need the steam which diffuses the heat. By letting it out, all the heat went with it.

Bob and Chris said...

I agree not using sugar most likely is the reason and also losing heat from steam in cooking. A reason I use a double boiler with chocolate is to avoid scortching it, but I wouldn't have used the clothes pin. But then again I wouldn't use a glass bowl myself as I broke the glass bowl to my old Kitchen Aid mixer doing that. I don't know if the water touched it during cooking, but it shattered into a million pieces! I only use metal now. Auntie Chris

Alicia said...

Thanks for the remarks - I didn't think about that with the sugar and the steam outlet. Does a double broiler allow some steam out to avoid pressure build up? It seems that would happen if there wasn't some sort of outlet. But, I don't know a lot about that.

Shannon said...

I'm not sure exactly how a double boiler works, but I know that the steam isn't an issue. In your pictures, you can see the condensation on your bowl. I think that would be an indication that the steam is escaping and cooling. ?