s'more or less: chocolate pudding with homemade whipped cream

I know it’s lame but…I admit I laughed for a full minute after writing the title. I like to think I have a really refined/witty sense of humor, but the truth is, I’m a sucker for really terrible puns. Something about how truly awful they all are just makes me smile. In case you were curious, one of my absolute favorite jokes is one that approximately zero other people find funny:

A man goes to a zoo. There's only one animal in the zoo.

It's a shih-tzu.

Anyway, hello! It’s been a while since I’ve written here, and I have to say, I miss it a lot. I’m going to try to start blogging more consistently and posting shorter, day-to-day thoughts rather than exclusively big or complex ideas. I don’t know if people are actually interested in what I think on a daily basis, but I think it gives the writing a more personal, relatable feel to it, which is partly the reason I started this blog in the first place (according to my mother, I don’t come off as very “approachable”).

My friend Ben (my baking partner-in-crime and hand model in the Midnight Snacks post) and I wanted to try something a little simpler this time. As a poor college student without access to a car, grocery shopping is a full-scale production every time I can get one of my friends to let me tag along with them to the store. That means I go into Vons or Trader Joe’s with the intent to buy every single thing I could possibly prepare/cook/eat over the next month. It’s really an exhausting ordeal (and expensive—food is costly when you’re eating it three meals a day).

I’d planned to try a cream scone recipe I’d shamelessly copied from an Anthropologie book, but that didn’t happen so I ended up with an extra carton of heavy whipping cream. Heavy whipping cream, delicious as it is, is kind of a difficult ingredient to use, because it usually involves a lot of preparation/other ingredients. My Google search history a week ago consists of questions ranging from “can I substitute heavy whipping cream for milk” to “what recipes use heavy whipping cream”. But I recently saw a recipe on the Cooking Channel for S’mores Pudding Pie (while on the elliptical, no less—how’s that for motivation?) on a show called Kelsey’s Essentials, which is supposed to be a show that simplifies recipes to make them quicker and more accessible. I’m not a huge s’mores fan, so we just decided to make the chocolate pudding instead, with homemade whipped cream using a Martha Stewart recipe.

Disclaimer: This is an easy recipe, not a quick one. It takes a little over two hours from start to serve.

Hand model credit goes again to my friend Ben

Hand model credit goes again to my friend Ben

SUPER-EASY CHOCOLATE PUDDING

Yields: 8 servings (okay, I have no idea what a "serving" means...honestly I could probably eat these eight "servings" by myself)
Prep: 3 minutes
Cook: 2 hours

pudding

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (we actually didn't have this, so we just doubled the chocolate...no regrets)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
A pinch salt
Pudding is great because it's basically just cream, milk, and sugar...it's like ice cream in non-frozen form.

Pudding is great because it's basically just cream, milk, and sugar...it's like ice cream in non-frozen form.

Add the milk, cream, and sugar to a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the cornstarch, then the cocoa powder, then the salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking until the pudding thickens, about two minutes.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the bittersweet chocolate and vanilla. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. A little trick is to pat the plastic wrap down directly on top of the pudding, to prevent a skin from forming.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours, and serve topped with whipped cream.

SWEETENED WHIPPED CREAM

Yields: 2 cups
Prep: 2 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes

whipped cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp granulated white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

In a deep mixing bowl, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Sprinkle granulated sugar over cream until soft peaks return. Add vanilla extract, if desired. Do not overbeat. You're done!

So the whipped cream literally took us about two minutes. We almost had to make more because I kept eating it before the pudding was done. If you've ever been to Legoland and had the Granny Smith apple fries with vanilla whipped cream, but it tastes exactly like the cream. I'm considering trying a copycat recipe now, because those things were my childhood.

But we did manage to save some to top off the pudding, and it looked beautiful garnished with mint.

I should just quit baking and become a food photographer.

I should just quit baking and become a food photographer.

So if you're looking for a simple dessert that looks impressive all dressed up, this pudding is perfect. It's rich, creamy, and 20x better than the kind that comes in a plastic cup (no disrespect toward pudding cups though). What should I try next? Tell me in the comments!