Thanks to a recipe for Miso Chocolate Chip Cookies, I've come around to putting miso paste in other desserts. The latest was Miso Chocolate Pudding, an easy stovetop pudding recipe made with all the usual suspects plus miso. Which begs the question, does the miso really need to be there?
Why Add Miso to Chocolate Pudding?
If you're not super familiar with miso, it's a Japanese seasoning made of fermented soybeans and other ingredients. It comes as a thick paste with a flavor that can range from sweet to extremely salty depending on fermentation time. There's white miso, which is typically the mildest, and (to me) tastes like soy sauce in paste form. The point of putting miso in chocolate pudding is not to make the pudding taste like miso, but to boost the flavor of the other ingredients. Because of this, you just want the mild white paste. The type I used came in a pouch from Trader Joe's. So back to the question, does it need to be there? Why not just add soy sauce or coffee?
Because you can say there's a secret ingredient! Seriously, the pudding is just fine without miso, but if you have some miso it's worth adding. Here's my experience. As I tasted along the way, I wasn't sure it made a difference, so I made a second batch and used ¼ cup brewed coffee in place of the miso/water mixture. The next day I tasted each with a fresh palate. They were both good, but the miso version tasted almost like chocolate fudge. I could taste the chocolate more! Or that's what I kept telling myself. That was a very unscientific test. The key factor was that my husband, without knowing there was miso, said "this is really good".
It's Chocolate Pudding
I have 4 or 5 different recipes for chocolate pudding and they're all very similar with little changes in ratios and technique. The best ones are like this. They have a bit of cocoa powder along with melted chocolate. There are lots of variables when it comes to this type of pudding including type and quality of the cocoa powder, the chocolate chocolate, type of milk, and how it's cooked. So everyone's pudding will probably taste different even when following the same recipe. I could make this one over and over for a week with little changes. The next one will involve bourbon in place of miso.
Bowls and Bowls and Bowls
This recipe calls for quite a few bowls, so I'm going to just spell out how many bowls you'll need right off and for what.
- Bowl #1 -- Medium size bowl in which to pour your hot pudding. This 1-quart Pyrex bowl has a spout and is very handy for puddings and such. Recommend!
- Bowl #2 -- Small bowl or custard cup to dissolve miso in water.
- Bowl #3 -- Medium size mixing bowl to mix the yolks, cornstarch, cocoa and milk. A 2-cup Pyrex measure is even better because of the spout.
- Small saucepan
You'll also need a fine mesh strainer to strain the pudding. A 5 ½ inch one works well. If you for some reason you can't or won't strain, that's okay, but it makes a difference here.
So here's the recipe. The pudding is rich and not too sweet and you can serve it warm or cold. You can also halve it and make two small servings.
I do have a less rich cocoa based pudding from an old Penzey's recipe if you want something simple.
Miso Chocolate Pudding
- 2 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate
- ¼ cup very hot water
- 2 teaspoons white miso paste
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch or natural (12 grams)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (16 grams)
- 1 ⅓ cups whole milk
- 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted or salted, cut into small chunks (56 grams)
- ⅔ cup light or dark sugar (140 grams)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt if you used unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
- Put the chopped chocolate in bowl #1 and set the strainer (if using) over it. Set aside.
- In bowl #2 (which can be a small custard cup), dissolve the miso in the hot water and set aside.
- In bowl #3, whisk together the cornstarch, cocoa powder and 2 egg yolks. Gradually whisk in the milk, starting with a little and whisking until smooth, then whisking it all in. Set aside.
- Put the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Whisk until butter melts and mixture is glossy and thick, then whisk in the miso water. Remove from heat briefly and gradually whisk in the milk mixture.
- Return to heat and whisk over medium until it thickens and big bubbles break the surface. Remove from heat and pour through the strainer and into the bowl with the chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted, then add a pinch of salt if you used unsalted butter. Also, stir in some vanilla.
- Spoon into 4 little cups or ramekins for serving, and cover each with a little square of wax paper or parchment directly over pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool slightly at room temperature, then chill until cold. Or skip and serve warm.