Dark Chocolate Rhubarb Pudding

First of all - I always knew that Ben Bars were delicious, but maybe not the extent of their fabulousness until last week's post. Thank you to everyone who shared stories and thoughts about Ben Bars and my brother. My heart is singing with happiness and the memory of my brother (or maybe it is the sugar high from the bars...). And if you haven't done so yet, do check out the ice cream version of Ben Bars on The Scoop on Cones (made by 365 Scoops). Simply scrumptious!

Before I fill you with another delicious dessert, let me share what we got in our CSA box this week!

I almost skipped all the way home when I discovered the sugar snap peas in our box (pictured in the bag). These were my favorite garden vegetable growing up. Most never made it from the garden into the house! Also pictured is mini red leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, purple scallions, and baby white turnips (Molly - these have your name on them!). 

We also got white and purple kohlarabi (which I love to eat raw so much that I rarely include it in an actual recipe) and spinach and salad mix bags.

The leafy greens are broccoli raab (or rapini), not to be confused with the actual broccoli right next to it! And then, my favorite... garlic scapes! I have been waiting to make garlic scape soup since last fall. I'm so excited!

It's hard to go wrong with beautiful, fresh, organic strawberries. We devoured them within 2 days. Yum!

So, this pudding recipe is actually 3 recipes: Rhubarb Coulis, Rhubarb Whipped Cream (yes, that's right!), and the Pudding. The coulis and whipped cream are super easy and really versatile. The coulis (pronounced koo-LEE) is a thick sauce that is divine on pancakes. Just saying. You'll only use about half of the coulis with the pudding, so you'll have plenty to experiment with (or eat with a spoon...).

The whipped cream is just as versatile. I happened to dip a few fresh strawberries in some extra whipped cream and my taste buds are just now recovering.

The pudding was intimidating to me because it required three cooking techniques that I was not confident in: scalding milk, tempering eggs, baking in a water bath.

Now, before you go running from the recipe this was actually pretty easy and the prep time is only 15 minutes. Let me explain these three techniques so you can feel confident in your pudding ability. Because the pudding is worth it! 

Scalding milk: Don't bother. Seriously. The purpose of scalding milk is to break down the harmful bacteria - which has already been killed by pasteurization. Often the use of a double boiler is recommended to scald milk. I heated my milk in a small sauce pan over high heat for 2 minutes, making sure it didn't come to a rolling boil. It worked perfectly. 

Tempering eggs: This sounds much more complicated than it is. We don't want scrambled eggs in our pudding. That's gross. To prevent this, we simply need to add the hot milk to the egg mixture in very small quantities, whisking thoroughly between each addition. This will heat the eggs so they are the same temperature as the milk without cooking them. This requires more "elbow grease" than a fancy cooking technique.

Water bath: A water bath is essential for ensuring that the texture of the pudding is creamy throughout. While the rest of the oven is 375 degrees Fahrenheit, the pudding never gets above 212 degrees Fahrenheit because as soon as the water boils, it turns to steam. This recipe's water bath requires a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and 3 ramekins (1 cup each). Once the pudding is poured into each ramekin, you'll set the ramekins into the baking pan and set the whole thing in the preheated oven. Then, pour hot water into the baking pan so it comes up about half way on the ramekins (I needed about 1 liter of water). That's it. The trickiest part is maneuvering the hot water within the oven. Some people add the water the pan before putting it in the oven; I found it easier to add after the pan was in the oven. When it is finished baking, some people just remove the ramekins from the oven and leave the water to cool in the oven. I found it tricky to grab the ramekins without spilling water. So, I removed everything when it was hot. Just be careful.

Note: the recipe says to cover the pan with tin foil. I forgot to do this. The top got a little firmer than the inside as a result. But it still tasted fantastic and I didn't even realize I had forgotten until I reviewed the recipe for this post.

What will result is a rich and creamy chocolate pudding. The rhubarb flavoring within the pudding is very subtle. I stirred in some fresh strawberries when I served it - delicious, but remember to add the strawberries immediately before serving to preserve the texture of the pudding.

Also, the original recipe said this served 3. I found the pudding to be quite rich and really it serves 6. So, use the ramekins to cook, and then serve from other smaller cups. And because this needs to be made ahead of time, this is perfect for a dinner party! Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Rhubarb Pudding
6 servings, 15 minutes prep, 35 minutes baking, 3 hours chilling (4 hours total)

2 ounces dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
3 egg yolks (preferably at room temperature)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup rhubarb coulis
pinch of salt
  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the three ramekins inside a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. 
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, rhubarb coulis and salt until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Place the chocolate in a medium glass bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until melted (do not overcook). Alternatively, use a double boiler to melt the chocolate. 
  4. Heat a small saucepan over high heat. Pour in cream and milk; it should sizzle and sputter when it hits the pan. Watch carefully to make sure it does not come to a rolling boil. You should see little bubbles on the edges. Heat for about 2 minutes until very hot.
  5. Pour a couple tablespoons of the milk into the egg mixture, whisking as you add it to be sure not to cook the eggs. Add a little more milk, and whisk to combine. Repeat until all the milk has been added to the eggs and you have a silky smooth and creamy batter.
  6. Pour the hot cream mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the melted chocolate. Whisk until well combined and smooth.
  7. Ladle the mixture into the three ramekins (1 cup size). Place the baking pan with the ramekins into the oven. Carefully pour hot water into the baking pan, avoiding getting water in the pudding. The water should reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover with tin foil. Bake for 35 minutes or until the pudding is firm around the edges - the center may jiggle slightly but will firm up as it chills. Remove everything from the oven; allow to cool. Refrigerate until firm (about 2-3 hours). To serve, dish half a ramekin into a small bowl, top with whipped cream and devour. 

Rhubarb Coulis
makes about 1 cup, 15 minutes

2 cups diced rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 teaspoon high quality vanilla extract)
dash of nutmeg
  1. Add all ingredients to a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is nearly dissolved. Puree with a hand blender (or a regular blender) until very smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Rhubarb Whipped Cream
makes about 1 cup, 5 minutes

3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons rhubarb coulis
1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form.  

Print this recipe. Adapted from Straight from the Farm.