Stovetop Cocoa Pudding

Photo from pengrin on Flickr (CC2.0)

When I have two cups of milk in the refrigerator that is getting close to going bad, I often fall back on a stove top pudding recipe I found on Epicurious a few years ago. It’s perfect as a “use up milk” recipe, as it comes together in a hurry and the dry ingredients are always in my pantry.

The recipe is fairly easy — it takes just a few minutes to prepare and just one pot and a whisk are needed.  But it’s not easy enough for me.

I made it “easy enough” by replacing volumes with weights, thereby allowing me to measure the ingredients using a “tare and pour” technique.  No measuring cups or spoons required.  I simply put the saucepan I plan to use on my scale, hit the tare button, add the first ingredient, hit the tare button, add the next ingredient, and so on. (A few ingredients I just eye-ball, not being too concerned if 1 1/2 teaspoons of flour are in the mix instead of the specified 1 teaspoon.)

The recipe allows for enhancements, both subtle and aggressive. Some of my past experiments include:

  • Caramelizing the sugar to a medium amber color, letting it cool, then pouring in hot milk and dissolving the caramelized sugar.
  • Using brown sugar instead of white sugar (not very successful:  I didn’t notice much of a difference).
  • Putting pieces of candied orange peel in the custard cups before pouring the pudding.

To be sure, this simple, relatively low fat pudding wouldn’t win a taste or texture competition with a pudding laden with egg yolks and whipping cream, but it’s still a nice treat, and a quick preparation.

Stovetop Cocoa Pudding

A simple cocoa pudding that you mix and cook in a single pot on the stovetop. Using milk as the base and cornstarch to thicken, it's relatively low fat (as puddings go).
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 100 grams white sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (1/3 cup)
  • 30 grams cornstarch (3 T. packed)
  • 1 tsp all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 500 grams milk (2 cups)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)
  • 50 grams chopped chocolate (dark or milk)


  1. Pull out 6 custard cups or canning jars ((1 cup capacity each).

  2. Combine sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, flour and salt in a heavy medium saucepan. 

  3. Add half of the milk to the pan and whisk to dissolve wet ingredients, then whisk in the rest of the milk. 

  4. Whisk over medium heat until thickened and beginning to simmer. Simmer 1 minute, stirring constantly. 

  5. Reduce heat to low. 

  6. Add the chopped chocolate, and stir gently until it is melted. Remove from heat.

  7. Stir in butter and extract(s).

  8. Divide into custard cups (or, if you aren’t going to be eating that day, pour into canning jars, with the mini size being ideal. Canning jars are easier than dealing with plastic wrap on custard cups.).

  9. Chill before serving.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 1997 (via Epicurious)

Photo of chocolate pudding at Tartine (600 Guerrero, San Francisco) from pengrin’s flickr collection, subject to a Creative Commons License.

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