Coconut chocolate pudding

Sorry, Aunt Virginia, you’ll just have to wait for the next recipe. This one’s only for coconut lovers!

Here’s what happened. Valentine’s Day fell on a Monday, and I had not yet planned my week’s menus. What to do, what to do? I had a bad cold and Little Three was flirting with a fever, so there wasn’t going to be any dash out to the store to pick up some special ingredients. So I thought about chocolate pudding. Rich enough for Valentine’s Day, comforting enough for a sick day. But all I had was skim milk, and I worried that the pudding wouldn’t set well. After reading half a dozen recipes and consulting the pantry, I combined them all and came up with this version. I have to say, I think it was a stroke of genius.  Both the chocolate and the coconut flavors come through, and the crunchy toasted coconut on top is a nice contrast to the creamy pudding. It’s very rich, so next time I will serve it in smaller cups.

 (In case you were wondering, I made chicken noodle soup for dinner. Not your standard Valentine’s Day dinner, but hey, it made me feel warm inside!)

Coconut Chocolate Pudding

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
2 T. Dutch process cocoa
1 14-oz. can coconut milk
1 cup milk
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips)
½ tsp. coconut extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt and cocoa together in a large, heavy saucepan.  With the heat at medium-high, slowly pour in the milk and coconut milk, whisking thoroughly until smooth.  Keep stirring frequently until the mixture begins to bubble.  Turn the heat down to low, and keep stirring until the pudding has thickened (this only takes a minute or two).  Stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth.  Turn off the heat and stir in the coconut extract.  Transfer the warm pudding to a serving bowl or individual cups or ramekins.  Cover each with a circle of wax paper right on the surface of the pudding, then cover them all with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold and set, at least an hour.

Spread the shredded coconut into a thin layer in a sheet pan and toast in a 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Keep an eye on it–it goes from toasted to burnt in a matter of seconds! Garnish the pudding with a spoonful of toasted coconut.

Makes about 8 servings (1/2 cup each).

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