Bill Cosby was right: kids love chocolate pudding. But why should children have all the fun? This pudding is definitely not for the kiddie table: it’s all grown up, a dark, coffee-infused adult treat. I love coffee in any form. It’s in my blood: my great-grandparents on my dad’s side were in the coffee business back in Livorno, Italy. But coffee desserts? Like caffe mocha, the inspiration for this pudding, that’s a totally American concept. Whatever: everybody will finish their broccoli when this pudding is dessert.
These puddings are great served very cold, with a big scoop of crème fraîche (which cuts the fat a little) or whipped cream (which just amps up the whole fat thing in a pretty amazing way).
SERVES 6, WITH A LITTLE BIT LEFT OVER
FOR THE COFFEE CREAM
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 Bourbon vanilla bean, split lengthwise,
seeds scraped out
1/2 cup whole coffee beans
1/4 cup sugar
FOR THE PUDDING
8 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
TO MAKE THE COFFEE CREAM
Combine the milk, cream, vanilla bean, coffee beans, and sugar in a medium-sized pot, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Pull the pot off the stove, pour the mixture into a bowl, and let it steep in the fridge, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes. (It can hold in the fridge at this point for up to a couple of days. The longer it steeps, the stronger the fl avor will be, though if it’s going to be in the fridge for a while, you should probably cover it up when it’s cooled.)
TO MAKE THE PUDDING
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Strain the coffee cream mixture through a sieve into a medium-sized saucepan; throw away the coffee beans and the vanilla bean.
Bring the coffee cream up to a boil over medium-high heat (about 8 minutes). Make sure you keep an eye on the pot so the cream doesn’t boil over.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Put the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate into another medium-sized mixing bowl. When the coffee cream comes up to a boil, pour about one third of it over the chocolate and whisk well, so you have a shiny liquid mixture and the chocolate is completely melted.
Then whisk in the rest of the coffee cream. (If you add all the cream at the same time, the chocolate will get grainy.) Whisk about one third of the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, and then add the egg-and-chocolate mix back to the chocolate bowl and whisk everything together well, so it’s a little bit frothy. (The back-and-forth here lets you temper the eggs without cooking them.) Whisk in the salt. Strain the mixture through a sieve into another bowl, to make sure there are no egg chunks or unmelted chocolate pieces.
Put 6 coffee cups (or 6-ounce ramekins) inside a large pot, a deep baking pan, or a roasting pan—anything you can cover with tin foil without the foil touching the tops of the cups. Fill a liquid measuring cup with some of the pudding mixture, and pour 3/4 cup (6 ounces) into each coffee cup. Refill the measuring cup and repeat until there’s pudding in every cup. Add warm water to the pot so it reaches halfway up the sides of the cups. Then cover the pot with foil, leaving it a bit open so you can see what’s going on as you move it into the oven (just in case water sloshes or something spills). When you get the puddings into the oven, seal the tin foil up tight, making sure there are no holes, rips, or tears. You want the pudding to steam beneath the foil.
At the half-hour mark, unseal the tin foil to let some of the steam out (so the puddings don’t oversteam). Reseal the tin foil and keep baking the puddings for another 15 minutes. Release some of the steam again, reseal, and keep baking for another 15 minutes. Check the puddings. If they’ve firmed up, take them out of the oven; if not, let them go for another 10 minutes. They’re done when they jiggle like Jell-o but aren’t liquid anymore and a dark ring has formed around the outer edge of each pudding. Take the pot out of the oven, uncover it, and let the puddings cool down a little, still resting in the water bath. When you’re able to handle them, move them out of the pot and into the fridge so they can cool down completely (about 2 hours). Serve ’em with crème fraîche or whipped cream.