When it comes to sweets, we are a nation obsessed with chocolate, especially the deep dark chocolate varieties.
I’m not anti-chocolate by any means—I love a slice of my Mom’s very chocolate Bundt cake, a mug of hot cocoa on a chilly day, or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream when the occasion is right (for example, Tuesday).
But more often than not, I prefer my chocolate tempered with other flavors: lush caramel, exotic spices, and tart fruits top my list. The truffle options at Vosges chocolate make me giddy. It horrifies my purist friends, but they are nonetheless tempted by my unusual pairings, so I must be doing something right.
The petite pots of chocolate on today’s menu have a dual function: satisfying my desire for a luscious bit of chocolate goodness and getting my energy back following my bout with the flu. I haven’t been hungry for much more than soup and popsicles for the past week, but today I am ravenous. And weak. I’ve been eating protein and protein, whole grains and greens like nobody’s business and now it’s time for a dessert that is as restorative as it is delicious: high protein chocolate and pumpkin pudding.
The choice of pumpkin in combination with cocoa was obvious. I am a canned pumpkin fiend; I add it to pancakes, oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, curries, whole grain risottos, protein bars, and just about anything else I can think of. When there was a pumpkin shortage two years ago, I literally cleared out any remaining cans at a dozen supermarkets (Kevin said nothing; he accepts me for who I am :)). It is a great ingredient pick when recovering from a cold because it is loaded with immunity-boosting vitamin A, not to mention a velvety, mellow flavor and loads of fiber.
In this easy chocolate pudding, the pumpkin adds body and richness with no more effort than pushing a button and wielding a rubber spatula. The flavor does not read “pumpkin,” just chocolate comfort. I feel more powerful already.
- 1 15-ounce can unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
- ¼ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
- ½ cup all-natural, sweetened chocolate protein powder (vegan or whey)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup almond milk or lowfat dairy milk
- Optional: additional natural sweetener to taste (e.g., stevia, honey, maple syrup)
- In a blender (I used a Vitamix) or food processor, process the pumpkin, cocoa powder, protein powder, vanilla and cinnamon until well blended and smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl or blender pitcher with a spatula.
- Add half of the milk to the blender or processor; process until smooth, then scrape down sides, Add remaining milk; process until smooth. Taste the pudding and add additional sweetener (a little bit at a time) if desired.
- Scrape into a big container or into individual jars or ramekins. Cover and chill at least 2 hours for it to thicken and for the flavors to blend.,