I've been working on this one for a while, and went through three different cocoa powders and three different chocolates. I settled on Peet's Dutch processed cocoa because it is good quality, not too expensive, and easy to come by. Peet's has been discontinued and now I'm using Cacao Barry Extra Brute. Valrhona 71% chocolate from the 3.5-oz bars worked best for me, although the 85% was good, too, but I wanted a less "bitter" taste and didn't want to use more sugar to sweeten or soften the flavor. If you like a more intense chocolate taste, the 85% will work, and you may not need more sugar. I weighed the chocolate and found that three squares of the bar equals 1.25-oz. Using more chocolate may result in a slightly thicker pudding, and therefore less cornstarch may be advisable.
I prefer to use 2% milk for this, but whole milk will be fine if that's your preference. My goal was to come up with a nice, rich flavor but keep the fat and sugar down as much as possible. 1% milk is not recommended, but it will work, sort of ...
1 teaspoon of espresso powder will be fine, but I preferred a little more kick in this pudding. I used Medaglia D'oro because it is easy to come by, not too expensive, and it seems to work just fine. I tried another brand at one point and, frankly, couldn't tell the difference. ETA 0n 7/19/2016: I now use Trader Joe's 100% Colombian Instant Coffee. It's less expensive than Medaglia D'oro and I prefer the flavor both in this pudding and for other uses.
Let me know how you like it ...
Shel’s Simple Old Fashioned Low Fat Chocolate Pudding
2 cups low fat (2%) milk - whole milk is OK
2 Tbs cornstarch
3 Tbs sugar
¼ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
2 Tbs good quality Dutch process cocoa
(1.25-oz 71% Valrhona Chocolate, chopped in small pieces)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp instant espresso powder
Heat 2 cups milk in microwave for about two - three minutes depending on power level. Pour ½ cup milk into a small bowl and add the cornstarch, sugar, salt, espresso powder, and cocoa, and stir until well mixed.
Put the remaining 1½ cups milk into a non-reactive saucepan, add the cocoa-milk mixture and the chopped chocolate, and heat on medium stirring frequently, almost constantly, until chocolate is dissolved and the mixture thickens. It should get to be almost lava-like, with an ocassional bursting bubble.
Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes, then add the vanilla extract and stir to incorporate well.
Pour into an appropriately sized bowl, or two to four serving dishes, let cool further, and then cover and refrigerate.
If you don't like a skin on your pudding, cover the pudding with plastic wrap or parchment paper cut to fit the bowl before covering and refrigerating.
Before serving, stir or whisk the pudding.