Vegan Pudding for next summer

There is something incredibly comforting about the word pudding. Maybe it’s personal for me, but instantly my thoughts drift to grade school years. On weekends or days home early from school I could pull from the kitchen cupboard a JELL-O pudding box, whisk in 2 cups of cold milk, pour the mixture into 4 equal sized cups, and refrigerate for the 30 or so, very long minutes, until I could finally dive my spoon into the creamy dessert of my choice. Always chocolate or vanilla.

What’s funny to think now is that I was a complete pudding snob. I remember the little snack packs moms would send their kids to school with. I know we always had a few in the fridge too and my little sister would eat them, while I preferred the little applesauce ones. I remember thinking they tasted like plastic. No contest against my making it from scratch (aka instant scratch) version. In fact, I’d probably have the same thoughts if you were to hand one to me now and I’d graciously decline your pudding cup offer.

Real, from scratch pudding however, offers up a little something more. A thicker, creamier texture, with zero after taste of anything you can’t quite put your finger on. Actually, I was quite surprised to discover I hadn’t already posted a pudding recipe yet. This ones a keeper though. It’s also vegan and gluten free, but you’d never know.

Vegan Chocolate Pudding serves 4

If making this for a gluten free friend, please make sure your cornstarch is certified gluten free to prevent any cross contamination.

1/3 cup cane sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 1/3 cups light coconut milk
6 oz. dark chocolate
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Use a sift for the cornstarch to remove any lumps. Turn heat to medium and slowly pour in the coconut milk, whisking constantly so the mixture stays clump free.

Heat the milk mixture over medium heat, whisking every so often, until it starts to softly bubble and thicken, about 8-10 minutes. Once you see little bubbles, stir constantly to prevent from burning. Stir in the chocolate and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. *Optional, at this point you can also choose to pour your pudding through a fine mesh sieve. It’s not necessary, but if you stepped away from the stove a moment too long, or you want to eliminate any chance of clumps, this will do the trick.

Divide pudding into 4 small bowls or remekins. Cover with plastic wrap directly on surface (to prevent skin from forming on top) and place in refrigerator for 1 hour or until chilled.