Simple, Homemade Chocolate Pudding

Simple, basic, feel-good recipe for homemade Chocolate pudding made quickly in 10 minutes using milk, cocoa powder and cornstarch to thicken.

Simple, Homemade Chocolate Pudding made in 10 Minutes Flat

Serves 6 (Go easy on the servings unless you plan to make it the main course!)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3 cups milk

1/4 cup unsalted butter

White Chocolate Shavings for Garnish (optional)

Chocolate Pudding in Cups

Chocolate Pots de Crème

How to:

1. Mix the first 4 ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and mix well.

2. Now add 1/2 cup milk to the dry mixture and mix thoroughly to get as smooth a mixture as possible. DO NOT HEAT YET.

3. Add the remaining milk 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Still, do not turn on the heat yet.

4. Now, place the saucepan over a medium flame and stir continuously for 6-8 minutes until the mixture coats the back of your spoon.

5. Turn off the flame, stir in the butter and allow the pudding mixture to cool and thicken. The pudding will form a darker film on top. Just mix it back into the pudding by giving it a good stir.

6. Serve warm or chilled garnished with white chocolate shavings.

Chocolate Pudding Recipe

My Secret to Making Lump-Free Pudding/Sauces

The first 3 steps are crucial to the recipe as they result in a lump-free pudding. Often, thickening agents like cornstarch are mixed with a little cold milk and then added to boiling milk which causes lumps more often than not. I was ‘initiated’ to the process of making lump-free sauces at a cooking class I took where my teacher demonstrated a different process for making a ‘white sauce’ (bechamel). Instead of stirring in milk, she mixed the thickening agent in cold milk and gave it a good mix. After that, it was only a few minutes on the stove before the milk thickened into a beautiful lump-free sauce.

I have done the same here – mixed all the dry, powder ingredients with cold milk and mixed them well and then heated the milk mixture. It works for me everytime and I am sure you will find it easier to make lump-free sauces with this method.

Egg Free Irish Soda Bread

The basic recipe for a simple Irish Soda Bread has lately been turned into a more decadent version with raisins and caraway seeds. Usually, eggs are also added to make this versatile tea bread richer. Here I have for you an egg-free version of the Spotted Dog (with raisins) Irish Soda Bread, just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day!

Egg Free Irish Soda Bread Spotted Dog

My first ever Google+ Hangout was hosted by Brooks Walker of CakeWalkr.com on Making Irish Soda Bread. It is his recipe that I have tweaked to make my own egg-free version. There are also a couple of minor changes in the quantity of ingredients that I felt were necessary as I examined my dough at various stages.

Soda breads do not require yeast and are fairly easy to make. The Irish Soda bread tastes like a Scone and beneath its thick, golden crust lies a beautifully moist interior – dotted with beautiful raisins in my case.

Irish Soda Bread

Click Here to see Brooks recipe. My recipe is almost exactly the same except for:

1. I used Egg Replacer Powder equivalent of 1 egg to replace the egg.

2. I used 7 tablespoons of butter as opposed to the 6 mentioned in the original recipe since my dough would not hold well. I test my dough by holding it tight in my palm after I have mixed in the butter. If the dough takes the shape of my palm, it is done. If it does not, it needs more shortening.

3. I was out of caraway seeds, so I skipped them.

4. My dough required more liquid, so I ended up using 1 and 1/2 cups of buttermilk.

Sliced Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

I baked two loaves from this recipe. Which means we had 2 hours of divine smells coming from the kitchen (you know – the kind when you bake something with cinnamon in it). The first one did not last long after it came out from the oven. The second, we served with softened butter and marmalade and it tasted equally heavenly! The gorgeously rustic loaf was cut into thick slices that we slathered with salted butter and orange marmalade.

You can serve it with your favorite tea for a perfect teatime snack on St. Patrick’s Day or any other day throughout the year! And check out Brooks Walker on Google Plus. He hosts regular hangouts that food lovers wouldn’t want to miss.

Of Lemons, Scrubbing, Waxed and Unwaxed

Many recipes call for scrubbed lemons. What exactly are they referring to? I will explain in simple terms what it means to scrub a lemon and if it is necessary at all to do so.

Why Lemons need to be scrubbed

Do You Need to Scrub a Lemon before Using it?

The answer is:

YES, if

  1. You need to use the rind in your recipe
  2. You bought waxed lemons

Although scrubbing them does involve the risk of washing away some of their nutrients.

NO, if

  1. You need only the juice, and not the rind
  2. You bought lemons clearly labeled ‘unwaxed’
  3. You grow your own lemons

In the above 3 cases, you only need to rinse them well, like you would any other fruits and veggies.

Why are Lemons ‘Waxed’ in the first place?

Most lemons are waxed to preserve their freshness for a longer time. So, if you are buying a lemon for its juice, it would be a great idea to buy a waxed lemon since it will keep longer. The wax used is edible and does not do any harm but I’d rather scrub it off (along with other pesticides and chemicals sprayed on it). Waxed lemons can stay fresh for 2-3 weeks whereas the unwaxed will stay only for a week or so.

How to Scrub Lemons

Rinse all the lemons with hot water and give them a real scrub using a brush. Finally, rinse them with cold water. Dry naturally or use paper towels. If you have kids around, give them the job of scrubbing. They will enjoy doing it more than you do.

As I mentioned above, scrubbing does involve the risk of losing some essential oils on the skin of the lemon. Buying unwaxed lemons or growing your own (or having a friend who does) are the only ways that will give you the best of both worlds. And while you are still at it, it would be a good idea to know that these facts hold true for all citrus fruits.

Egg Free Chocolate Walnut Cake

There is something so comforting about the classic, un-pretentious, homemade chocolate cake that I would, at any given time, trade a fancy plate of dessert for a generous slice of a rich and moist chocolate cake. Add to it walnuts – and you have a winning combination! The chocolate-raisin pair is good for chocolates, but for chocolate cakes, my first choice is sure to remain walnuts. Here’s my recipe, just in time for Valentine’s Day.


Heart shaped Chocolate Walnut Cake for Valentine's Day

All You Need is Love,
But a Little Chocolate Now and Then Doesn’t Hurt
- Charles M. Schulz

Being a lacto-vegetarian who loves to bake, my pantry almost always has an egg replacer powder as a staple. But this particular chocolate recipe does not call for it. The rich condensed milk makes the cake super moist and the cake rises beautifully.

What You Will Need:

Wet Ingredients:

  1. Condensed Milk – 14 oz /400 ml can
  2. Melted White Butter – 8 tbsp
  3. Water or Milk – 10 tbsp (or more if required to attain the desired consistency of the batter)
  4. Vanilla – 1 tsp

Dry Ingredients:

  1. Flour – 1-1/2 cups
  2. Cocoa Powder – 1/2 cup
  3. Baking Powder – 2 tsp
  4. Salt – a pinch
  5. Walnuts, broken into small pieces – 3/4 cup

Chocolate Walnut Cake Slices

How to:

I have broken down the ingredients into dry and wet ingredients to make it super simple to make this cake.

1. Mix all the wet ingredients and beat well using a spatula or an electric beater or a stand mixer.

2. Place a sieve over the bowl containing your wet ingredients. Add all the dry ingredients, except the walnuts into the sieve and then sieve them into the wet ingredients. Beat well to mix.

3. Fold in the walnuts.

4. Pour the batter into a greased pan and bake in a pre-heated oven on 320°F or 160°C for 40-50 minutes or until done.

5. The recipe halves and doubles very well should you need to change the proportions.

6. Cool and dust cake with sieved fine sugar to serve.

Vegetable Au Gratin

‘Vegetable Au Gratin’ is a dish of French origins where assorted vegetables are mixed with white sauce and topped with butter, cheese and bread crumbs. This is my twist to the original recipe, as my kids like to have it. I use a little oregano and chives to slightly ‘Italianize’ the flavor of the white sauce because that’s the way my kids like it. And I love to top it with extra cheese because my kids love cheese! This is what I love about cooking. You can always experiment with the recipe and come up with something that your family loves to eat!

Vegetable Au Gratin

Ingredients

  1. 500 grams (3-1/2 cups) of chopped assorted vegetables (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Peas, Green Beans, Bell Peppers, Baby Corn, Mushrooms, Asparagus, etc). Use whatever you like.
  2. 20 grams (1 tbsp) butter
  3. Italian Seasonings like Oregano, Chives, Paprika, etc. Again use flavors that you like.

For the sauce

  1. 50 (2 oz) grams butter.
  2. 50 (2 oz) grams flour
  3. 500 ml milk (approx. 17 oz)
  4. 100  (4 oz) grams cheese
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Oregano, Chives, White Pepper for seasoning.

For the topping

  1. 200  (8 oz) grams grated cheese
The beautifully baked Veg Au Gratin

The beautifully browned and crisped cheese topping

Method

To prepare the vegetables:

Wash the chopped vegetables and boil them for 3 minutes in enough boiling water to cover them. The vegetables should be al-dente, and not over cooked. Drain the vegetables and keep aside.

Vegetables in White Sauce

In a frying pan melt 20 grams butter, and lightly saute the boiled vegetables for about 2 minutes. Season with Oregano, Chives and Pepper or Paprika. Remove to a bowl.

To prepare the white sauce:

In a sauce pan, melt 50 grams butter. Add 50 grams white flour to the butter and combine the two over low heat. This mixture of butter and flour is called a ‘Roux’. Keep stirring the roux till the flour is cooked and no longer smells raw. Make sure the flour does not turn brown or burn. Take the sauce pan off the heat.

Now add 500 ml milk slowly to the roux, stirring continuously so as not to form any lumps. After you have added all the milk, place the saucepan on medium heat again and bring the sauce to a boil. Add 100 grams grated cheese. Add salt, oregano, chives, paprika and any other seasonings you like. Keep stirring the sauce so as not to form any lumps. Cook the sauce for 2 minutes or until the roux, milk and cheese are completely melted into a thick sauce. The sauce for the Au Gratin should be thick, and should coat your finger thickly without dripping.

To assemble

Vegetable Au Gratin

Pour the white sauce over the boiled and sauteed vegetables, and mix till all the vegetables are evenly coated. Lightly grease a baking dish with butter. Spoon the vegetables in white sauce into the baking dish. I spooned them directly into several aluminum foil dishes since I had to give them away to friends and family. We have plenty of takers for this dish here!

Vegetable Au Gratin

Now top with 200 grams grated cheese so that the vegetables are entirely covered with a layer of cheese. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit  Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or till the top cheese layer turns light brown. Keep an eye on the oven to make sure the cheese does not burn. Adjust the time according to your oven.

Vegetable Au Gratin

My kids love to gorge on this soul satisfying Vegetable Au Gratin! You can serve slices of buttered and grilled garlic bread with the Vegetable Au Gratin. It is, though, a complete one-dish meal. In my home, we eat it all by itself, and we never have leftovers!