Easy Chocolate Pudding (or Cheat’s Chocolate Panna Cotta)
Playing mum to a pair of newborn twin boys and a hyperactive kindergartner while working on one’s debut book is not easy; take it from me. I am lucky to have help from family and staff, and most days, I barely cook anything beyond breakfast, if at all. Mrs. B’s repertoire is limited; she cooks some really great coastal Maharashtrian-style homely food and helps prep things if we feel like eating something outside of that realm, but I am not sure how many years it will take me to teach her not to do a phodni (tadka) of mustard and hing to a batch of rajma. Having her cook both lunch and dinner is, however, good in a way because it makes sure that we all eat sensibly; she has her own opinions of what I should be eating post partum, and I see that there is some effort in making sure I get a variety but I guess I am quite a brat when it comes to food!
There are days when all three of us—M, Avanee, and I—long for a dinner out at a half decent restaurant but the logistics of taking Abheer and Ayaan out (formula and all its paraphernalia in tow) are greatly discouraging at the moment, so we reserve that cacophony for special occasions. On regular days, I try to squeeze in one element of consumption that will perk up our otherwise predictable meals—a chutney of some sort, or a special snack box treat for Avanee, or just an indulgent masala doodh for M and me in the few minutes of quiet at night when all three kids are asleep.
Yesterday, I made this jugaad easy chocolate pudding (or a cheat’s chocolate Panna Cotta, if you like). I am not a big fan of China Grass—at least not the non-chocolate flavors. I also find that the proportion of milk to agar agar as suggested by the pack usually results in a slightly loose set pudding, one that seems to melt the moment you bring it out of the refrigerator. So, I made a few changes to the recipe, adding a small bit of cream and a handful of chocolate buttons to make a well-set pudding that also had a depth of flavor. Served with a generous sprinkling of unsweetened cocoa and a few seasonal strawberries, it made for a pretty treat. I think this could be a good make ahead dessert idea for days when you have to entertain a large number of people and have to prep for several dishes or are simply short of time.
- 1 pack of Chocolate China Grass (100 grams)
- 400 mililiters whole milk
- ½ cup cream (heavy cream; not whipping cream)
- ½ cup dark chocolate buttons or chopped chocolate
- ½ teaspoon instant coffee
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
- A few strawberries, sliced
- Sprig of mint for garnish
- Boil the milk and cream together. Then, add the contents of the China Grass pack and the chopped chocolate/chocolate buttons and coffee.
- Stir continuously, preferably using a whisk, to combine. Switch off the heat.
- Pour into individual ramekins or pretty teacups and allow to cool slightly. Cover with cling wrap or foil and refrigerate until required.
- To serve, unwrap the ramekins and sieve the cocoa over. Top with sliced strawberries and garnish with a sprig of mint. Serve cold.