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OLD FASHIONED CHOCOLATE PUDDING

2 cups milk
3 Tbs cornstarch
4 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs good quality cocoa
1 tsp vanilla

Scald 1 1/2 cups of milk in a heavy saucepan (look for tiny bubbles
around the edge). Mix together the cornstarch, sugar, salt and
cocoa, add the remaining 1/2 cup milk, and stir until well blended.
Stir in the scalded milk and blend well. Pour the mixture back
into the saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat until
thickened. Let the pudding boil for one minute while stirring
briskly. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl and let cool for a
few minutes. Stir in the vanilla, spoon into serving dishes.

You can eat the pudding warm (you probably -will- taste it while
warm) or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. A little
heavy cream over each serving is nice, maybe a little cookie along
side . . . I never use salt and cut the sugar back to 3 Tbs. You
can experiment a little. I usually use low fat or 1% milk. Nonfat
is OK too, but it does loose a little something. There's no need
to use whole milk, but you can.

Use good quality cocoa and high quality vanilla extract. You can
use vanilla sugar also, which is my favorite way. Take 1/2 a
vanilla bean and slit it vertically and then cut each half into
two or three pieces. Add the pieces to a cup of sugar, cover, and
let it sit a few days. The sugar then becomes flavored by the
vanilla. Remove the vanilla pieces and the sugar is ready to use.

This recipe allows for the formation of a "skin" on the top of the
pudding. I've been told that by laying a piece of plastic wrap over
the top while the pudding is setting up, the skin won't form. I've
not tried that, so I don't know if it really works. I like that
skin <g>.

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