Chocolate pudding is a sweet dessert with a thick consistency, made with chocolate or artificial chocolate flavor, sugar, and milk. Pudding can be made from chocolate pudding recipes or from prepared powdered mixes sold in a box. The boxed variety requires mixing with a set amount of milk and heating over the stove. Instant varieties of boxed chocolate pudding require mixing with milk using a wire whisk to beat until thickened. For this method, the pudding will set and thicken upon standing for several minutes.
Some cooks prefer making chocolate pudding with semi-sweet chocolate for a more bittersweet taste. To give the pudding this type of flavor, a bag of semi-sweet chocolate morsels may be added and cooked into the mixture as it simmers in a pot. Whole milk is generally preferred for making pudding, although some prefer two percent milk or skim milk, as it tends to be lower in fat.
Sugar is generally required when preparing chocolate flavored pudding, although those who are on a sugar-restricted diet or simply wish to reduce amounts of sugar may use an artificial sweetener. Cornstarch is generally used to thicken the pudding and to achieve the correct consistency. Some also prefer using a small amount of vanilla extract for flavoring.
There are many variations in chocolate pudding preparation. Cooks can use many types of chocolate, including dark chocolate or even white chocolate. Cooks may also use half-and-half creamer instead of milk. It is also customary for many restaurants to serve this dessert with a small dollop of whipped cream on top.
Chocolate pudding and other types of puddings are popular American desserts. In other countries, however, similar desserts, known as custards, have been enjoyed for centuries. The exact origin of chocolate and other puddings may not be known, although many believe puddings were first prepared by ancient cooks. A modern-day variation very similar to chocolate pudding is chocolate mousse, which is lighter and fluffier.
Another way to prepare chocolate pudding is by making a pudding pie. A pudding pie is prepared by pouring the thickened chocolate pudding onto a pie crust and allowing the mixture to set. Graham cracker pie crusts are generally preferred, and these may be made from scratch, or pre-packaged and store bought. The pie is then placed into the refrigerator until firm, generally taking about two to four hours to set.