Choco-Coco Latte Puddin'

Sometimes you just want something sweet without a lot of fuss. That's where pudding comes in. No bake time; no kneading dough; no sifting dry ingredients.  It's as easy as making chocolate milk and even more delectable. Simplify, simplify.

Growing up, it seemed my mother could make pudding out of anything. Now that I'm head chef in my own kitchen, I've realized why: corn starch. Corn starch thickens anything and if you apply it to milk- ta da! Instant pudding. She would even make corn starch pudding (corn starch, milk, and cinnamon) which was one of her childhood desserts.

Of course, I had to try to make good ol' fashioned pudding a little fancy. It's sophisticated but not pretentious. Instead of milk or heavy cream, I used unsweetened coconut milk because it's thick and reduces nicely over heat. Regular white sugar was substituted with coconut sugar which has more nutritional value and a subtle flavor.  Some dark chocolate and a touch of espresso and voila: Choco-Coco Latte Puddin'.

The end result was superb. The coconut milk did just what I hoped and created a nice, thick pudding. Had it been fluffier, it could have been mistaken for mousse. The coconut flavor was very subdued as the chocolate stole the show with a nice, smooth espresso undertone.

And the best part... it takes 20 minutes to make (tops) and only needs 30 minutes in the fridge. It's about 5 minutes to get all your ingredients together, stove top time is another 10 (in which time you don't have to constantly whisk), and the final 5 are for pouring and placing in the fridge.

And with all that time you saved in the kitchen, you can spend it enjoying pudding, loving nature, and being with the people that matter in your life. Viva pudding!

Choco-Coco Latte Puddin'

makes 2 generous servings

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup coconut sugar
Pinch of salt

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 cup milk
3.5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (60% and higher)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons instant espresso (how strong you want it? I used 1 teaspoon)

Heat the water of your double boiler. If you don't have one (like me), heat about an inch of water in a small pot just to a nice simmer.

Combine the cornstarch, coconut sugar, and salt in a heat proof bowl. Slowly whisk in both milks. Place over gently simmering water and give a it a good whisk occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Make sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated. After 10 to 15 minutes, the mixture will being to thicken.  Add the chocolate and espresso. Continue whisking just a few more minutes, until the pudding is smooth, thick, and all the chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour directly into a serving bowl or into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour into individual serving dishes. Place in fridge. Ready to serve in 30 minutes!