Rich Chocolate Pudding

You will NEVER buy pudding mix again....This pudding works much better with high-end cocoa powder. I'm a big fan of Callebaut - hard to find locally, you can buy it online. Otherwise, some specialty grocers stock other kinds of European cocoas. The cocoa should be alkalized (i.e. Dutch-process). This improves the flavor of cocoa.

Serves 4

1/2 c. white sugar (113 g)
1/3 c. cocoa powder (57 g)
1/2 c. hot tap water (125 g)
1-1/2 c. half and half 
(or 3/4 c. skim milk and 3/4 c. whipping cream)
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

In a 2 qt. saucepan, mix sugar and cocoa powder. Add hot water and stir with a flat whisk until it forms a thick paste. Microwave half and half on high power for 3 minutes and then stir into cocoa mixture. Mix cornstarch and milk in a small bowl with a flat whisk until blended. Bring cocoa and cream mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to low. Slowly whisk in cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Cook for at least two minutes (this helps reduce the starchy flavor of the cornstarch). Pour into individual bowls (or a large bowl) and refrigerate until set (in small bowls about 1 hour). If you don't want skin (the best part in my mind!) cover with plastic wrap, so that the plastic is touching the pudding before chilling.