Why It Works
- By foregoing eggs and using a judicious amount of cornstarch as a thickener, this dessert has a lighter texture and more delicate flavor than standard chocolate puddings.
- Adding cocoa powder gives the pudding an extra chocolate boost.
Similar to a panna cotta, blancmange (which translates into "white" and "to eat") falls into a category of eggless custard desserts that rely on a thickener such as gelatin, agar agar, or cornstarch to set the liquid (milk or cream) into a barely-held-together consistency that's delicate, creamy, and jiggly. The main difference between blancmange and panna cotta is the thickener. While panna cotta is uncooked and gelatin-set, most blancmange recipes use cornstarch as a thickener, in which case the mixture is cooked because cornstarch needs to come to a boil to thicken properly. That being said, a blancmange made with gelatin would be the same as a panna cotta.
To put it a bit more plainly, blancmange is a pudding with a fancy name that can be unmolded onto a plate for a restaurant-worthy presentation. Blancmange also has a lighter and more delicate texture than standard egg-enriched puddings, which makes it a terrific summertime dessert.
For my chocolate blancmange (I'm still flummoxed by the name—it's like saying "chocolate white cake"), I decided to make a cornstarch-thickened version to keep it as different as possible from a traditional panna cotta. This dessert is not complicated at all to make (it takes all of five minutes to cook up), so my main challenge was to get good chocolate flavor while still maintaining the light texture and slight jiggle that is the hallmark of a blancmange. The more chocolate you add, the thicker and denser the pudding becomes when it sets. For the two cups of milk that I was working with, three ounces of bittersweet bar chocolate was the limit. To give the pudding the extra chocolate boost that it needed without wrecking the texture, I whisked in a tablespoon of cocoa powder.
Even though I usually add a pinch of salt to my chocolate recipes, I omitted it here. Salt increases the flavor intensity in such a way that I felt wasn't quite right with this light, cold, and creamy dessert. Once it's chilled, dive into the chocolate blancmange right out of the bowl or ramekin with a spoon (that's how most of mine ended up), or take advantage of what you can't do with most creamy puddings: unmold the quivering, perfectly set chocolate blancmange onto a waiting plate. Complete this super silky dessert with cool whipped cream and fresh fruit.
1/4 cup (1 ounce) cornstarch
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 cups whole milk
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Whipped cream for garnish
Fresh sweet cherries for garnish
In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, and cocoa powder; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch mixture, and chocolate. Heat over medium heat, gently whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
Whisk in vanilla and pour into ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and chill until set, at least 4 hours. Serve with whipped cream and fresh cherries.
Six 4-ounce ramekins
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 10g||13%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||31%|
|Total Carbohydrate 20g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||9%|
|Total Sugars 11g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|