A hint of chile and cinnamon give this chocolate pudding a delicious twist. Perfect for any Mexican celebration, or anytime you're in the mood to take chocolate in an interesting new direction.
This recipe was originally created for our Series of Unfortunate Recipes, based on the book and Netflix series by Lemony Snicket.
2 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
2 guajillo chiles
2 cinnamon sticks (about 3 inches each)
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao; see notes), cut into small pieces
Optional: whipped cream and ground cinnamon for serving
1. In a medium saucepan, warm 2 1/4 cups of the milk with the whole guajillo chiles and cinnamon sticks over medium heat with the lid askew. Watch closely, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. When the milk begins to simmer, turn the heat to low and let it rest with the lid slightly askew for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. If a skin begins to form, whisk it back into the milk to encourage it to dissipate.
2. For maximum flavor, allow the milk, chiles and cinnamon to cool to room temperature after 2 hours, then pour it all together into a container and refrigerate overnight before making the pudding.
3. When you're ready to make the pudding, strain all the solids from the milk mixture, pressing the liquids out of the chiles and back into the milk. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan to steaming (but not boiling).
4. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup milk with the egg yolks, sugar, salt and cornstarch in a medium bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly.
5. Turn the heat under the milk to low, and temper the egg mixture with the hot milk like this:
Add a few ladle-fuls of the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking each addition in as it's added. When you've added enough milk to warm the egg mixture noticeably, pour the egg mixture into the pan with the rest of the hot milk, in a steady stream, whisking as do.
6. Turn the heat to medium and whisk until the mixture thickens and just begins to boil (one bubble is enough). Turn the heat to low and whisk for another minute or so.
7. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and the chocolate pieces with a silicone spatula, until they have completely melted and become thoroughly combined with the pudding.
6. If you want to prevent a skin from forming, you have some of options:
Scoop it into a bowl or other container with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the pudding; or
Scoop it into a bowl and drizzle a couple teaspoons of cream over the top, which you will stir into the pudding before serving; or
Put the lid on the pan, move it away from the stove, and allow the pudding to cool in the pan for up to an hour or so.
7. Serve at room temperature or chilled. A dollop of whipped cream is very nice on top, garnished with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Some notes on chocolate: I made this with bittersweet 70% cacao chocolate and it was sophisticated and delicious, enjoyed by kids as well as adults. If you don't have access to 70% cacao chocolate, you could substitute a lower-cacao chocolate but you may need to use more of it to ensure you get a sufficiently chocolate-y flavor. If you are using semisweet instead of bittersweet, reduce the amount of sugar you use. (I didn't experiment with this, but I would think 1/4-1/3 cup would work nicely, depending on how sweet you want the finished product to be.)