Resist the urge to add crunch, my husband is saying to me. I mean, please, love, don’t add crunchies to all my food. I’ve just served him a last bowl of that blood orange sherbet from last week, and without thinking, topped it with a crumbled up waffle cone. Oops.
It’s hard for me to remember that crunchies and toppings aren’t as paramount to everyone as they are to me. I am a certified crunch lover. I’m after texture. Nuts, panko bread crumbs, dried seaweed crumbles. If it’s crunchy and (bonus) salty, I’m probably into it. I always say that I like contrast in my food — sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy — and my man likes monotonous food. I know that makes his side of the story sound less appealing, but like many cooks, I find it difficult to stomach others’ preferences, especially if I think they’re wrong. (Heh…)
When I whipped up this pudding, I wanted to make something with my husband’s tastes in mind. I would resist the call to add nuts. Pudding! All one texture. Super chocolatey. Easy to shovel with a spoon. You could even slurp it with a straw if you were extremely dedicated.
But guess what? I added crunchies.
I was flipping through Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milkbar Cookbook in search of an interesting pie crust for a different recipe — something I could bake up and then crumble into pieces and masquerade as a crust. I stumbled across what Tosi describes as a “deep, malty, surly” pretzel crunch, packed with malted milk powder and big grains of salt.
Oh Lord, this is the bar snack to end all bar snacks. It’s kind of like a malted shake, so there’s that comforting diner-y taste to it, but it’s also just one of those snacking mixes that you can just destroy when no one is looking. Anyway, I couldn’t get enough of the malt powder, and it turns out that adding it to pudding is just as amazing as it sounds, and layering it with pretzel crunch and malty whipped cream is…well… it’s beautiful. I never ended up making a pie crust, but I think I still came out on top.
The good news? The man still got his bowl of pudding with one texture, and I got these babies.
Malted Chocolate Pudding Parfaits with Pretzel Crunch
Makes 8 servings
Adapted from a foolproof recipe from The Kitchn
Makes 8 servings (fills an 8 x 8 casserole dish)
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate*
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons malt powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 cup heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
2 ½ cups 2% milk
1 cup sugar
*The original recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate — I only had unsweetened chocolate, so I increased the sugar by ½ cup.
1. Using a serrated knife (pro tip from The Kitchn), flake the 4 oz. of chocolate and set aside.
2. In a large, heatproof bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, cornstarch, malt powder, and table salt. Slowly whisk in cream to make a slurry. Whisk in the egg yolks.
3. In a medium (4- to 5-quart) pot, combine the 2 ½ cups milk and 1 cup sugar. Bring milk and sugar mixture to a low simmer. Watch for foamy bubbles to form. Do not let the milk come to a full boil, and stir frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom.
4. Temper the eggs by pouring some of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking rapidly to prevent curdling. Then transfer all of the egg mixture back to the pot.
5. On medium-high heat, warm the pudding mixture, whisking constantly (get in those corners). Bring to a full boil and continue whisking for 2 minutes as the pudding thickens substantially.
6. Remove pudding from heat and add flaked chocolate. Let sit for 1-2 minutes, then thoroughly incorporate chocolate.
7. Transfer to a shallow heatproof dish (such as a ceramic casserole dish) and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming over the pudding. Refrigerate until cool, approximately 1 hour.
Optional: When ready to serve, transfer pudding to a bowl and whip to aerate.
Christina Tosi’s Pretzel Crunch
Find recipe in English measurement system here.
100g thin pretzel sticks*
60g light brown sugar
20g milk powder
10g malt powder
100g melted butter (salted)
*The original recipe calls for mini pretzels, but I had the sticks, and so sticks were made.
1. Preheat oven to 275 F. Crunch up pretzel sticks into ¼- to ½-inch pieces.
2. In medium bowl, combine crushed pretzels, brown sugar, milk powder, malt powder, and stir gently with a spoon (you don’t want pretzel paste).
3. Pour in melted butter, stirring to combine. You’ll have a gloppy mixture that sort of clings to the pretzels.
4. Pour mixture out onto a parchment-lined sheetpan and spread into a thin layer, so that there are some blobs holding pretzels together, and other “lone” pretzels.
5. Bake 20 minutes until the pretzels are a deeper brown and the kitchen is fragrant (pretzel perfume!). Let cool completely on sheetpan — the pretzels should be crunchy. Break up and store in an airtight container for 1 week in the fridge or a month in the freezer (according to the Milkbar cookbook), but I just ate em all before freezing was an option.
Malted Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon malt powder
3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a chilled metal bowl, whip cream on high until thickened (about the texture of ranch dressing or the pudding), 3-5 minutes. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract and whip until soft peaks form. Add malt powder and whip until stiff peaks form.
Assemble the Parfaits
In glasses or bowls, layer chocolate pudding, pretzel crunchies, and whipped cream in alternating layers. Top with cocoa powder if you want to get fancy!