Let’s talk about cocoa powder. In almost all cases, I don’t believe in running out to the store ( /Amazon) to buy expensive, obscure ingredients that you’ll probably only use once. It’s a total waste, and usually that one ingredient doesn’t do enough in the dish to really be noticeable, let alone missed. But every now and then there are times when I feel that going for a special ingredient makes all of the difference. This is especially true in recipes with only a handful of ingredients— the simplicity requires that they're of the highest quality. This cocoa powder (Cacao Barry Extra Brute) is one of those ingredients that will change the way you see chocolate pudding. It takes this recipe from what could be an upscale snack pack to a decadent, luscious pudding that lies somewhere in between a mousse and a truffle. Yes, it’s expensive, but I promise you it is worth the splurge. Cacao Barry's cocoa powder is a full fat, Dutch processed cocoa powder (also known as alkalized) with an incredibly rich, deep chocolate flavor. And while I haven't tried any others, I'm sure there are a host of premium cocoa powders out there that are equally as good. The only risk here is that you’ll probably ruined from Hershey’s cocoa powder forever.
So, about this life changing pudding that takes less than 10 minutes of cooking. It's rich, chocolatey and has a depth of flavor that lingers after each silky spoonful. If you can, garnish it with the big flakes of toasted coconut for a crispy contrast to the silky texture (sliced almonds would work too). The pudding is the perfect level of sweetness (for me), which keeps the focus on the luscious, intense chocolate and the balancing hit of bitter cocoa. I skipped the coconut extract (one of those ingredients I didn’t want to buy!), which kept the coconut flavor subtle, lightly fragrant and authentic. Use the extract if you want a bigger punch of coconut. Of course, as usual, I’m already dreaming up different versions of this pudding that would be so fun-- like mocha pudding with chocolate covered espresso beans, or a chili chocolate pudding with spiced nuts. If you've got other flavor ideas, I'm all ears!
silky chocolate coconut pudding
yields four 1/2-cup servings | recipe from BraveTart, by Stella Parks
* Stella Parks notes: The deep chocolate flavor in this pudding depends on the alkalinity of Dutch- process cocoa powder, so even the best natural cocoas (acidic by nature) will make it tangy and thin. For this simple recipe, it's well worth splurging on full- fat, high- quality cocoa over a grocery store brand. (And like I said above, Cacao Barry Extra Brute is amazing).
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp, 1/4 oz) unflavored gelatin powder
2 tbsp (1 oz) milk, any percentage will do, to bloom the gelatin
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract (optional)
2/3 cup (5 oz) gently packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) Dutch-process cocoa powder, such as Cacao Barry Extra Brute
1/4 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt (half as much if iodized)
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) coconut milk, any percentage will do, to make the pudding
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
In a small bowl, mix together gelatin, 2 tbsp milk and vanilla with a fork and set aside.
In a medium sized saucepan, combine brown sugar, cocoa powder and salt, and mash out any lumps with the back of a spoon. Pour in 1 1/2 cups coconut milk and heat over medium heat, stirring to help dissolve the sugar, until hot and steaming.
Remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until fully dissolved. Pour into a mixing bowl, cool for 5 minutes, then cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (but it can be held up to a week at this point too).
While the pudding chills, toast the coconut flakes. Spread the coconut in an even layer on a parchment paper-lined pan. In a 350°F oven (or toaster oven), toast the coconut flakes until lightly golden and fragrant, 30 seconds- 1 minute. Pay close attention, they can burn very quickly! Set aside to cool.
When the pudding is chilled and firm, use a handheld mixer with beater attachments on medium to whip pudding to a smooth, creamy consistency, about 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then continue to beat a little bit more until all of the lumps are gone and the pudding is smooth.
Spoon pudding into small ramekins, top with toasted coconut flakes and enjoy immediately.
pudding can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. If desired, rewhip before serving. If you don’t rewhip, the pudding is dense, fudgy and equally addicting. You can't go wrong.