Leave out the malted milk, and you have an essential chocolate pudding that can be flavored in endless ways: with ground Mexican cinnamon or black pepper; with orange or tangerine zest; sweet, smoky paprika; a few drops of Cognac or Grand Marnier or a splash of Kahlua.... A tablespoon or two of rendered bacon fat stirred in to taste will give a subtle and compelling hint of smoky pig.
• ¼ to 1/3 cup cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
• ¼ cup cornstarch
• 4 cups milk
• 1 1/2 cups malted milk powder, or to taste
• 2 tablespoons sugar scant 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt or a scant 1/8 teaspoon table salt
• 4 ounces (2 squares) semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• whipped cream or crème fraiche (optional)
Sift the cocoa through a strainer into a medium, heavy saucepan; add the cornstarch. With a whisk, slowly blend in enough milk to make a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining milk, then the malted milk powder, sugar, salt; add the chocolate. Heat over a medium-low flame, stirring, until chocolate is melted and the pudding is very thick and just beginning to boil, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Cool, stirring occasionally, until the pudding is warm.
Pour into individual half-cup custard cups or small bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and firm. Pass whipped cream or crème fraiche on the side.
To read Sally's article about this pudding and the history of malted milk, click here.
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