Nana’s Fancy Chocolate Pudding

IMG_7361Every semester while I was attending a very prestigious community college back in Ohio I would change my major.  “What are you this semester?” my mom would say with a smug look on her face and holding a cup of coffee.  “Communications!” I would say all excited.  She wasn’t as excited as I was, in fact, she would give me her “where did I go wrong face?” and walk away.

When I was in high school I would go home and plop on the couch, yes I plopped, when you’re 325 pounds you plop on the couch.  I would sit there all evening and watch cooking shows.  I never thought there was a career path in there somewhere.   I always believed Chef’s and Pastry Chef’s trained in kitchens and worked their way up.  I honestly had no idea there were culinary schools.  With the encouragement of friends and family I started looking into a pastry career.

Being as I changed my major every quarter I had to prove to my mom and dad that culinary school was the route I wanted to go.  I enrolled in the Food Service Program at my prestigious community college and boy did I excel.  Seriously, not only did I find something that I enjoyed, I wasn’t missing classes and the classes I was attending I was passing.  Months of pestering my parents, they finally told me to find a culinary school and they would ship me off.  Oh boy!!!

When I arrived on my first day I was all giddy like a child.  I had my uniform, school ID, tool kit and lunch tickets, I was more than ready.  My first pastry class was the basics, your foundation for pretty much everything.  We were going to learn how to make pastry cream.  So excited!!  I used to hear that term on Great Chefs all the time.   The teacher went into great detail as to what we were going to learn to cook in the kitchen, the reason behind it, the history and why we need it as a foundation.  Blah, blah, blah….can we just cook please?!

All the talk, big words, pots, bowls and whisks later and finally a finished product of pastry cream.  “So that’s what they’re always talking about on Great Chefs huh?” I thought.  When we all grabbed our plastic tasting spoons, I took one big honking spoonful of pastry cream and I stood there scared.
“Ooooh shit” I thought.  I knew exactly what pastry cream resembled and was.   If only my mom had known what she paid for.  I pictured my mom standing there next to me in class, “I paid a goddamn fortune for you to learn how to make Nana’s pudding?  I could have saved thousands of dollars and just sent you to your Grandma’s house.”   I knew I had to keep this a secret or I would be paying dearly.

Though my Mom was kind of right actually.  It turns out a lot of things we use in pastry or cooking in general are just foundations that we build on.  I had a great friend, James Hanley tell me when I first moved to New York.  “You can’t reinvent the fish.  It’s all about learning new techniques.”  Brilliant, fun, hard working and genius this guy.

I’m thankful my parents sent me to culinary school and even more so if they don’t make me pay them back for learning how to make Nana’s pudding.

Nana’s Fancy Chocolate Pudding  (no charge)

300g             heavy cream
300g             whole milk
100g             yolks
2                   eggs
111g            sugar
20g              light brown sugar
25g              cocoa powder
100g           dark chocolate
25g             cornstarch

-dark chocolate chopped and set aside in a bowl
-combine yolks, eggs, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder and starch, set aside
-heat milk and cream
-as milk and cream heat up, almost a simmer, gradually add bit by bit to your egg mixture, being sure to whisk constantly
-once milk and cream is completely combined with the egg mixture return the entire mix back to the pot and return to a medium heat
-whisking constantly cook until pudding starts to thicken
-as soon as it starts to thicken take off the heat and pour over your 100g of dark chocolate, whisk until chocolate is completely melted
-pour into pudding cups or a pie shell or chill in the fridge and just eat it right out of the bowl!

Now you have Nana’s fancy pudding and you didn’t even have to pay a tuition fee.  You are very welcome and please come back again for free recipes or advice….or stories…or whatever I may ramble about.  You never know…


This shot was for the magazine. Any magazines want to hire me?


Nana’s fancy pudding as a plated dessert. Who says pudding can’t be classy?


I dipped the graham crackers in Rum Chata just enough to soften them but not make them soggy.


Nana’s fancy pudding in glasses with some whipped cream a cocoa dusting. I like to think Nana would be proud.


Nana’s fancy pudding with graham cracker and whipped cream.


The Rum Chata flavored graham cracker and Nana’s fancy pudding. The graham crackers were soft enough to tear through but not mushy. That’s what we were looking for.