Toss out the snack packs and learn how to make homemade chocolate pudding completely from scratch, no box-mix required. This is an easy recipe that has been a hit with my family and is a richly chocolate treat that’s a far cry from the artificially flavored snack packs you can buy at the supermarket.
For some reason, I thought I’d lost my taste for chocolate pudding years ago. It was one of the first desserts I learned to make on my own when I was a kid, mostly because it was so easy — just open the little brown box, shake out a packet of chocolate powder into a bowl full of milk, and whisk until smooth.
Somewhere through the years I lost my interest, sure it was easy, but it wasn’t exactly great, and so I moved on to cookies and cakes and other desserts.
It wasn’t until I shared my chocolate pie recipe late last year that I realized how rich, chocolatey, and un-artificial real, homemade pudding could really be, and so I decided it might be time to give chocolate pudding another chance, just maybe without the little brown box of powder involved.
This is a more sophisticated chocolate pudding than the one you might have made yourself as a kid. The flavors are more authentic, deeper, darker (and you can make it even richer and darker by using a higher percentage cocoa chocolate bar!).
Sure, there is a bit more work involved than shaking chocolate gelatin powder into a bowl of milk, but not that much more work and the taste improvement is worth every extra second of stirring.
There are just a few things to know before you get started, and knowing these tips and keeping them in mind will ensure your chocolate pudding comes out perfectly every time, so let’s get to it.
First, let’s talk about the back-of-the-spoon test.
Since everyone’s oven and stovetop is going to run slightly different from mine, I love it when a recipe has visual/textural cues that indicate a dessert is progressing as it should. Most cookies will have slightly golden brown edges, cakes should spring back to the touch, and homemade chocolate pudding should coat the back of a spoon before removing it from the stovetop, and not a second sooner. This is essential, if your pudding does not reach this thickness, it is never going to firm up correctly in the refrigerator, and you’ll be left with a runny mess.
How long it will take for the pudding to reach this consistency will vary depending on your stovetop and where exactly you set the dial for “medium low”, but for me it has taken 10 minutes and even longer.
Let’s talk more tips, like why you can’t crank your heat up to high to speed up the cooking process and why I recommend covering your pudding with cling wrap as it cools.
More tips for making homemade chocolate pudding
- Gather all of your ingredients before you begin. Once the pudding has thickened, you’ll want to work quickly and add your chocolate, butter, and vanilla immediately so that they melt, so have them prepped and ready to go.
- Do NOT increase the heat of your burner to speed up the cooking process. The pudding needs a low heat to ultimately thicken to a pudding consistency. If it doesn’t reach this consistency, your pudding will never firm up and you’ll essentially be left with a chocolate soup.
- As mentioned above, you can tell that the pudding has reached appropriate thickness when it coats the back of a spoon and no metal can be seen showing through.
- The cornstarch in this recipe is essential, but it can also cause some small lumps in your pudding. I personally prefer a smooth texture, and so I recommend pouring your pudding through a fine mesh strainer once it’s finished cooking to eliminate any lumps. This is the one I use (affiliate).
- Placing plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding will prevent a skin from forming over the surface as it cools.
I pour my chocolate pudding into a large bowl and chill it that way, then portion it out into separate serving dishes when I’m ready to serve. If you prefer you can portion it directly into the serving cups and chill it that way (still cover with cling wrap), do whichever is easier for you!
I like to top my pudding off with homemade whipped cream, but that is completely optional.
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How do you Make Homemade Chocolate Pudding
Homemade Chocolate Pudding
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (150g)
- 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons natural cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups milk (710ml)
- 4 oz dark chocolate bar, chopped into small pieces I use 60% dark chocolate (113g)
- 2 Tablespoons butter cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Homemade Whipped Cream for topping, optional
- Read through the recipe and prepare and gather all of your ingredients before beginning.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt.
- Add milk and transfer to stovetop over medium-low heat and whisk ingredients together.
- Whisk ingredients frequently on medium heat until ingredients begin to thicken (this will take several minutes). Do not increase the heat to expedite the process, as it is important that the sugars melt for the pudding to ultimately reach the desired consistency.
- Once mixture has thickened (it should be approaching a pudding consistency and be able to coat the back of a spoon so that no metal shows through) whisk constantly, the mixture will come to a boil (again, don't increase heat, this will take several minutes but the mixture will eventually come to a boil) and continue to whisk for 60 seconds (use a timer) before removing from heat (still whisking constantly).
- Immediately add chopped chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract.
- Whisk until ingredients are smooth and chocolate and butter are completely melted.
- Pour your pudding through a fine mesh sieve (optional, but this will eliminate any lumps) into a medium-sized heatproof bowl. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent skin from forming.
- Cover the surface of your pudding with clear plastic wrap, making sure that the clear wrap is pressed against the surface of the chocolate to prevent a skin from forming.
- Refrigerate at least 4 hours to allow pudding to cool completely before serving, topped with homemade whipped cream (if desired).