I grew up eating pudding made from box. It’s what you did, what everyone did, and it was used in a lot of great desserts.
Mom would always make the stovetop version, then pour it into these tall, curvy glasses I later found out were Irish coffee cups. Every time I’d think, This is going to be amazing, but every time I was a little disappointed. The reason: It wasn’t chocolaty enough, at least for my sophisticated 8-year-old palate. At that age, I’d take a rich chocolate cake over pudding any day.
How I Found the Perfect Pudding Recipe
Fast forward a few years, while I was vacationing in Amsterdam. I had just finished an amazing dinner at Restaurant De Kas, one of the most stunning restaurants I’ve been to. The menu was preset, so each course was a surprise.
At the end of the meal, the waiter pointed to a small scoop of chocolate on my plate and said this was chocolate pudding. It was thicker and more mousse-like than American pudding and the flavor was pure, unadulterated chocolate! I knew I had to talk to the pastry chef.
The Secrets to Making the Best Pudding
What I learned was you have to use only the highest quality dark chocolate you can find and it needs to be at least 70% cocoa. One of my favorites is from Scharffen Berger.
The second revelation was never to use cream or milk; only water or your favorite liqueur. Dairy products tend to cover up the chocolate flavor. So, yes, this is a dairy-free pudding recipe!
Over the years, I’ve played with the ratio of chocolate to water and adjusted the amount of sugar. I’ve also included liqueurs to add another layer of flavor that doesn’t distract from the chocolate. You can use all liqueur but I find that too much; I think 1/4 cup is just right.
How to Make 3-Ingredient Chocolate Pudding (or Mousse)
- 9-1/2 ounces (270 grams) 70% dark chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup amaretto or water
- 1/4 cup sugar, optional
- Two bowls; one larger than the other (I like these)
- Whisk (here’s our Test Kitchen’s favorite)
Step 1: Set up the Cooling Bowls
Fill a large bowl half full with ice; add enough water to just cover ice. Place another bowl that’s slightly smaller on top; set aside.
Step 2: Melt the Chocolate
In a large saucepan, stir together chocolate, water, amaretto and sugar, if using; place over medium heat, stirring constantly until chocolate is almost melted. Remove from heat and stir until smooth.
Step 3: Whisk (But Not Too Much)
Pour chocolate mixture into the empty bowl resting in the ice water. Whisk constantly until mixture just starts to thicken. Spoon mixture into serving dishes and let stand 5 minutes; mixture will thicken upon standing.
Test Kitchen tip: As you whip, watch the texture—if you over-whip it will start to get grainy, which happens to most people on their first try. If the pudding becomes grainy, transfer it back to the saucepan, reheat until half of it is melted, pour it back to the mixing bowl and whisk again briefly. You can do this a number of times. Keep trying until you get it just the consistency you like.
Step 4: Serve
Divide the mixture into four serving cups. Don’t worry that it looks a little thin; the longer it sits, the more it will set up. Refrigerate any leftovers.