Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chocolate Pudding, College-Style

So my classes started up yesterday. Hooray! I'm actually excited. So far, I like them all. Then again, I've only had 3 (out of 5) and only one session of each of those, so I might be completely wrong. I'm probably going to be super busy this semester with all my writing classes, but I'm going to do my best to update here at least once a week. Which really just means cooking something new at least once a week, which I'm usually good at. Recently I've been lazy. I blame knowing that school was about to start and allergies. Anyway.

Since I commute to school, I don't suffer from cafeteria food the way that most college students do. There was, though, a time when I lived in a dorm and had to eat at the dining hall for every meal. Our dorms didn't have any kitchenettes or anything, either. All we had was a refrigerator (mine was usually filled with Mountain Dew) and a microwave (for making Annie's Microwaveable Mac & Cheese). No toaster. No stove. Darkness, desolation. Borderline starvation. (Okay, so I'm exaggerating here, but you get the point.) I wasn't as into cooking then as I am now--I always liked cooking, but I never spent time clicking around the internet looking for new things to make. Which is good. If I had, I would have become increasingly disappointed that I couldn't make anything. So today, I'm going to share with you all something I could have made back then, and something that those of you who are in college and don't have access to much in terms of appliances can make now.

A few weeks ago, I was bored on the internet and saw something that mentioned chocolate pudding. I'm not sure why, but I pretty much immediately needed to make chocolate pudding. I was about to go search for recipes when I thought, "Wait, I'm at Mike's house. He doesn't have things like heavy cream and a double boiler to make pudding with." I almost didn't even look, but I remembered that I had a little bit of cream left there from a cake I'd made, and maybe--just maybe--it would be enough to make pudding. Boy, was I surprised when I found that the top chocolate pudding recipe on didn't use cream at all. In fact, it called for skim milk. The total calories from fat in one serving of this recipe is seven. Seven calories from fat. In PUDDING. So not only can you make this in your dorm room, but you won't get fat if you eat it every day.

If you're at home, and you really don't feel like making stuff in a microwave, you can do this in a double-boiler. It's really not necessary, though. This was excellent pudding.

RECIPE: College Kid Chocolate Pudding
very very slightly adapted from

-1/3 cup sugar
-1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Dark cocoa powder. It's not any more expensive and it tastes SOOOOO good. If you like dark chocolate, I highly recommend it.)
-3 tbsp cornstarch
-1/8 tsp salt
-2 cups 1% milk (I know I said the recipe calls for skim, but I prefer to write what I actually did, and we drink 1%--use skim if that's what you have.)
-1 tsp vanilla extract (optional--I left it out because by the time I was supposed to add it, the pudding was way too thick.)

1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, mix sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt. Make sure you mix thoroughly. If the cornstarch isn't incorporated into everything else, it'll clump when you add the milk and not come apart and your pudding won't thicken.
2. Add the milk and whisk (with a fork, if you don't have a whisk, which I imagine most college kids don't.)
3. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Remove and stir.
4. Microwave for another 2-6 minutes, for one minute at a time, removing and stirring after each minute. (The original recipe says 4-6 minutes. I thought it looked plenty pudding-y at 2, though, and after 4 it was too thick to add the vanilla.) When it's thick enough, add the vanilla and stir it in.
5. Separate the pudding into 4 dishes (bowls, coffee mugs, solo cups, whatever) and refrigerate until cold.
6. Serve, topped with whipped cream (if you have it or can steal it from the cafeteria) or just normal cream (if you have it; you probably can't steal this one).

Step 1: Dry ingredients in a bowl.

Step 2: After you add the milk, the dry ingredients will probably make it look really foamy, almost sponge-y. This might also be a side-effect of using the whisk instead of a fork. Regardless, it's okay.

Step 3: Action shot! I wanted to capture how it looked a lot darker under the thin layer of bubbles. This is right after it came out of the first 3 minutes of microwaving.

Step 4: This is after 4 minutes of microwaving. I don't think it needed to be this thick, but it was delicious, so I guess don't hesitate to over-thicken it if you're not sure.

Step 5: I like my pudding in coffee mugs. And if you're a normal college student, you probably have a few of them lying around. The important thing here is, I know there are people out there who can put pudding into serving dishes without making it look like a complete mess. Would any of those people like to volunteer to teach me? Because I clearly need help. (Though, fellow college kids, you probably don't have to worry about what it looks like. Anyone you're feeding this to should be happy enough just to have homemade pudding.)

So there you have it. The easiest pudding to make, EVER. Were you confused when I said you can serve it with just cream? Because Mike was sort of confused when I poured some cream onto mine. I'm not sure why I do this except that I grew up doing it, and I think it tastes wonderful. It's exactly like whipped cream, except it hasn't been whipped yet.

The ingredients and supplies necessary to make this would easily fit in one cube of those wire-grate-assemble-it-yourself shelving units that I know you have in your room. It would probably cost under 10 dollars to be able to make this a bunch of times. And that guy or girl you're after will probably be totally impressed that you made pudding in your dorm room, so it's worth it.