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Chocolate Pudding, Italian Style

August 31, 2010

I will shamelessly admit that, on occasion, I’ll eat the store-bought six-pack pudding cups to satisfy a sweet craving.  It happens maybe once a year, well, times six I suppose, unless my husband “helps” me by eating a couple of cups as he admonishes me for buying the stuff to begin with.  I’m just being honest with you.  I generally provide a well-balanced diet at home but it’s inevitable that I’ll throw some less-than-healthy things into the cart if I do my grocery shopping when I’m hungry.  Still, the pudding cups are convenient and taste somewhat like chocolate, right?  I won’t apologize for this, no, I won’t.

Don’t be upset; I’ll give you something better in order to redeem myself.

I’ve been watching Lidia Bastianich on public television a lot lately.  I seem to have a love for all things Italian and her show always brings back fond memories of past visits but more importantly, she always has me wanting to run to the kitchen to recreate her dishes.  Her recipes are simple, humble and seem to represent well the local flavors of the regions she features.  I’ve bought three of her cookbooks just so I can easily follow her instructions as I watch her.

This chocolate pudding is one recipe that appealed to me from the beginning.  It’s chocolate pudding like I’ve never seen it prepared before and trying the recipe proved to be a good decision. With crushed biscotti and toasted nuts, it gained texture and substance.  The pudding itself remains silky, smooth and wonderfully decadent with the cocoa powder and chopped bittersweet chocolate lending genuine chocolate flavor.  I used almond biscotti to complement the chopped almonds I added and both infused the pudding with a welcome almond flavor.  No extracts necessary.

I called this pudding Italian style but I’m not certain whether this is a traditional Italian preparation or if it is specific to Valle d’Aosta, a mountainous region in the northwest corner of Italy.  What Ms. Bastianich did mention is that this pudding is a good way to present a new dish by using leftovers.  Sponge cake, pound cake, cookies or old biscotti are often the likely recycle candidates.  My store-bought biscotti worked very well in this recipe.

The custard was very easy to prepare and set properly.  I admit the finished product isn’t the most party-worthy in terms of looks; I could have sprinkled additional crushed biscotti on top or even sliced strawberries, but I didn’t.  What matters is that the pudding’s flavor had my friends requesting to take some home.  Ms. Bastianich served hers with whipped cream and fresh fruit and while I did the same, I also skipped the former for my photo session since I did it before my guests arrived.  I’ve never sliced my desserts before serving them to company but I thought you deserved to see that the plated slice could look very pretty and appetizing. My friends didn’t mind and you won’t either when you taste this.

Chocolate Pudding, Italian Style

from Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely hand-crumbled plain biscotti (I used almond biscotti)
  • 3 1/2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup toasted, skinned, finely chopped hazelnuts (I used almonds)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted

Line a pie plate with plastic wrap, leaving some overhang around the edges.  I used the recommended 9-inch pie plate and it worked well.

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl followed by the cornstarch until the mixture is lump-free.

Over low heat, simmer the cream and milk in a saucepan.  Turn off the heat and temper the egg mixture by slowly pouring about 1 cup of the hot milk and cream into the egg bowl, whisking constantly.  When blended, pour the tempered eggs back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk-cream and continue to whisk constantly.

Heat the mixture over medium heat, whisking steadily until the custard thickens.  Make sure not to allow the custard to come to a boil although you should see some bubbling on the surface occasionally.  It will take 7 to 8 minutes for the custard to get quite thick.

Remove the custard from the heat, stir in the crumbled biscotti, chopped chocoalate, nuts and cocoa powder.  Stir well to blend all the ingredients and until the chocolate has melted.  Pour the mixture into the pie plate and cover in plastic wrap.  Make sure that the plastic wrap lays directly on top of the pudding.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to set.

To serve, remove the plastic wrap, invert the pudding onto a serving plate, cut into wedges and serve with fresh fruit and/or whipped cream.

38 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2010 10:03 AM

    That is probably the most beautiful pudding I have ever seen! Fabulous photo!

  2. August 31, 2010 10:04 AM

    That looks like a nice and simple dish that would impress a lot of people. Homemade pudding.

  3. August 31, 2010 10:04 AM

    What a dessert! I love the texture of the cake/cookies in the middle. This is a fabulous recipe!!

  4. August 31, 2010 10:06 AM

    That looks so delicious! Italians really do make the best desserts.

  5. August 31, 2010 11:34 AM

    Jean this is a fabulous recipe and I love the way you photographed it with the fresh berries. You really do inspire me with your lovely posts, always well written and beautifully photographed, not trying to butter you up, just the truth! Have a nice get away and I look forward to your next inspiration:-)

    • September 2, 2010 6:54 AM

      Wow, Patty, you’re so sweet. Thank you so much but you know the feeling is mutual. 🙂 I’m already thinking of what I’ll make when I return. Hopeless!

  6. August 31, 2010 11:49 AM

    That looks so good. It is perfect for a quite night in front of the TV 😀

  7. August 31, 2010 12:03 PM

    I really love pudding.. and this pudding.. I’m at a loss for words! ha

  8. August 31, 2010 12:28 PM

    I have never thought to add biscotti or pound cake to my puddings! That explains why she’s a culinary legend and I’m not 🙂 This looks stunning and I bet it was delicious. And oh, I will confess to eating a pudding cup at least once a week! 🙂

    • September 2, 2010 6:56 AM

      Me neither until I saw this recipe so I had to try it. Glad I did because I really liked the crumbled biscotti in this. Thanks!

  9. August 31, 2010 3:43 PM

    I admit to buying chocolate pudding in a cup. I’m not sure if it happens once per year or once every two years, but I definitely buy it for the same reason. I have to admit that I like the tapioca too! I love the addition of biscotti and nuts to this pudding. It looks divine!

    • September 2, 2010 6:57 AM

      Judy, I’ve never tried the tapioca and since we’re all confessing to eating these things, I’ll have to try them next time. 🙂

  10. August 31, 2010 6:19 PM

    That looks so good. I am going to save this one to try soon. Looks great for the holidays or when the weather gets chilly. Yummm with a nice cup of coffee…. I could have this for breakfast.
    Thanks for the great post.

  11. Stephanie permalink
    August 31, 2010 7:21 PM

    This looks like it would satisfy my craving for something creamy and chocolate-y! One word: “Yum!!!”

  12. August 31, 2010 8:13 PM

    What a wonderful Italian dessert. I too enjoy Lidia – she is the queen of Italian faire. Great photos – especially the first one – it pops right off the screen!!! Have a wonderful week.

  13. August 31, 2010 8:29 PM

    Ah I see what you were talking about now–it is definitely a unique and interesting kind of pudding. I probably wouldn’t let it set and would just eat it all runny and crunchy. Yum.

    And I eat those puddings sometimes… ;X

    • September 2, 2010 7:00 AM

      You’re right. I didn’t think of that. I can attest that it was great at that stage, too. I licked the spatula clean. 🙂

  14. August 31, 2010 8:48 PM

    I have definitely had my share of those pudding cups too (I like to add animal crackers on top) But we all need one of these chocolate puddings…I also think Lidia’s recipes are great, and so I’m sure this tasted just spectacular.

    • September 2, 2010 7:01 AM

      Monet, I never thought to add animal crackers to the pudding cups but the effect is similar to what I did here. Hmmm, I’ll have to try that.

  15. September 1, 2010 3:24 PM

    I love the crushed biscotti in the pudding. I am all about the crunch.

    Don’t worry about your jello pudding confession. I buy it from time to time too. I have a sweet tooth and 60 calories is a lot better than 500 on a daily basis. 🙂

  16. September 1, 2010 4:00 PM

    Yum! This looks divine! We are big fans of Jell-O chocolate pudding, too! But the sugar-free ones though to tone down the guilt! 🙂

  17. September 1, 2010 5:11 PM

    I am sure this is incredible. Some of the best desserts are not very pretty. BTW, we all have those sneaky sweets/snacks that we have to have. There’s nothing wrong with that!

  18. September 1, 2010 7:57 PM

    It looks so yummy. I can’t wait to try out this recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  19. September 2, 2010 4:38 AM

    This dessert looks so tasty. I must try it some time. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  20. September 2, 2010 9:15 AM

    This looks divine!

  21. September 3, 2010 4:42 PM

    Jean – beautiful and decadent looking dessert. The biscotti must give great texture to the creaminess of the pudding.

    I need to find that Lidia Bastianich show on tv. I have one of her magazines/cookbooks and really like her style of Italian cooking.

  22. September 5, 2010 7:02 AM

    looks are important, but its all about the flavor!! it sounds delicious!! thanks so much for making this great dessert and sharing your success with us. I have never seen anything like this , I’m sure it would get rave reviews from my girls!

  23. Wdwchewy permalink
    September 5, 2010 7:43 PM

    My dad saw Lydia make this and requested it for dessert for Sunday dinner. Found the recipe via your website. (Thank you!) Made it last night and served this evening. I used almonds as well. It turned out fabulous! Thank you for posting the recipe!

    • October 11, 2010 4:09 PM

      How’s that for timing? I’m so glad that this post was useful to you. Thanks so much for dropping by. 🙂

  24. September 10, 2010 5:41 PM

    There’s no shame in those pudding cups…at least I say so because I am also guilty!

    But now, this pudding, THIS is just gorgeous! I can just taste it in my mouth, reading through the recipe! Thanks for sharing this gem!

  25. September 25, 2010 1:19 AM

    I love homemade chocolate pudding and this puts an entirely new twist on something already rich and decadent (when it’s good!). I love the biscotti and hazelnut addition! Fab recipe! Thanks! And we all need a little pre-packaged junk food every now and then!

  26. Fadia permalink
    August 17, 2011 4:35 PM

    Wonderful! Can I somehow make this in a 13 by 9 glass pan? I want to serve buffet style. I will double the recipe for that. Would it be ok if I cut into squares and people took a piece with a spatula?

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