Rich, dark – and unsweetened – chocolate combines with sweet red cherries to make a wonderful Sugarfree Black Forest Pudding.
It’s cherry season!
That’s a fairly short time around here, so we need to really enjoy cherries while we can! Gather ye cherries, er, rosebuds while ye may? The roses last longer than the cherries… though in full bloom, not buds. And lovely as cherry blossoms, rosebuds, and youth are, I enjoy cherries, full blown roses, and, well – my own maturity! And the pleasure of a cherry chocolate pudding.
Well, then, I didn’t plan to either quote Herrick or go philosophical… We were talking about cherries. And chocolate. And sugar…
See, half the recipes out there that call themselves sugarfree use honey, maple syrup, or other forms of sugar that just aren’t the white crystallized version. Or they use chocolate… I’m starting to be really frustrated by the people who don’t seem to realize that dark chocolate chips, or 80% chocolate bars have sugar in them… (There are sugarfree chocolate chips on the market – but few recipes mention them.) On the other hand, others (often written by dieticians with diabetics in mind) sternly remind you that nothing with fruit in it is truly sugar free – and use artificial sweeteners.
I’m trying to hit a middle ground – the one where I live, myself. (Sometimes I think I should have named the blog The Middle Ground…) I don’t add sugar (or honey, maple syrup, rice syrup, or any other form of sugar) to anything. Neither do I use artificial sweeteners, which never agreed with my body, and which trigger cravings for sweet as badly as sugar does. On the other hand, I can eat fruit in moderation, with meals. I won’t sit down and eat a whole mango, or a few slices of watermelon (the time I did, I was so spaced out!) but I can enjoy a few pieces of them with other food… and I regularly eat an apple, strawberry muffins, or a handful of cherries. (And diabetics I know can do the same, as long as they account for the fruit in their meal plans – obviously, follow your own dietician’s advice, not that of anyone on the internet!)
So – in this recipe, I actually puree the fruit into the pudding to add both sweetness and the wonderful cherry flavor to the chocolate pudding. Then I add a few whole cherries – you get the pure flavor and sweetness of the cherry in the same bite as the rich, slightly bitter chocolate, and the contrast is wonderful! Make sure you get really sweet cherries – not pie cherries, of course, but if you are at a farmer’s market and have a choice, ask for the sweetest, for this recipe, even if you enjoy slightly tart for other uses.
Now – chocolate. The recipe uses unsweetened chocolate, often called baking chocolate. It has no sweetener at all, and by itself is quite bitter. When I worked in a preschool and we did the module about Senses – Taste – I gave the children a sliver of baking chocolate to experience the bitter taste. Adults do enjoy some bitter flavors – coffee, beer – but I wasn’t going to give either of them to children!
Most of us prefer something to balance the bitter flavor. Sugar is common, of course, but many of us just use milk in our coffee… and indeed here, we use a combination of the milk in the pudding and the sweetness of the cherries. We then get a rich, deep, smooth cherry chocolate flavor! (You can also substitute a little cream for some of the milk – that’s a real treat!) And a note – if you and yours (or your guests) aren’t quite ready for a completely sugarfree dessert, you could make this with 85% cocoa or higher dark chocolate – just know that if you do, there is sugar added.
All this introduction, but the recipe is really fast… Measurements are a little odd, though. Start with a cup of cherries plus 12 cherries to put in dessert bowls. (I used actual dessert bowls, which nicely hold half a cup of pudding with room for the cherries.) Pit the cherries, and put three in each bowl. (You’re setting this up now so that it’s ready when the pudding is.)
Put the rest of the pitted cherries in a measuring cup that holds at least two cups. Now, if you have a cute cherry pitter like mine, it will look like a cup of cherries – if you pitted them by cutting them with a knife, they’ll condense on themselves a little more and will look like less, though the amount of fruit is the same. Pour in enough milk to give you two cups total of cherries and milk.
Pour all that into a blender. (If your blender has reliable measurements on the side, you can just use it in the first place.) Then add half a teaspoon of vanilla, half a teaspoon of almond extract, and two tablespoons of cornstarch. Blend all of this. I have both pureed until the cherries were liquefied, and stopped short of that to leave a little texture – I found the first a little more subtle. Your choice.
Roughly chop two ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate. Pour the cherry mixture into a heavy saucepan, add the chocolate, and put it over a low/medium heat. And stir constantly. Keep the heat low and stir because you don’t want to risk scorching the milk, you do want the chocolate to melt completely, and because the cornstarch is already blended in, the pudding will thicken abruptly. I use a silicone spatula to stir, because it does a good job of scraping any milk that tries to stick to the pot.
That part takes your full attention, but it lasts five minutes or less… It’s kind of neat to watch, as your thin pink milk first gradually turns a dark red-brown as the chocolate melts, and then thickens until your spatula is completely coated in pudding. Once you reach that stage, pour at once into the prepared dessert bowls, and let cool. If you want to avoid a skin forming over the top, cover the bowls – personally I kind of like the dense chocolate skin, so I don’t bother. Some of the cherries may float, some will not… Once they have cooled, refrigerate them until you are ready to serve.
I chose not to serve it with whipped cream, to let the cherry chocolate flavor sing out, but of course adding it would be even more reminiscent of the Black Forest Cake I named it after! But even without the name, or the cream, this cherry chocolate pudding is a real treat.
Serves 1/2 c
Rich, dark - and unsweetened - chocolate combines with sweet red cherries to make a wonderful Sugarfree Black Forest Pudding.
10 minPrep Time
5 minCook Time
15 minTotal Time
- 1 c cherries, pitted
- 12 cherries, pitted, in addition
- 1 1/2-2 c milk
- 1/2 t vanilla
- 1/2 t almond extract
- 2 T cornstarch
- 2 oz unsweetened chocolate
- Place 3 pitted cherries in each of 4 dessert bowls - set aside.
- Place the rest of the pitted cherries in a measuring cup. Add enough milk to bring the level up to 2 c.
- Put the milk and cherries in a blender. Add the flavoring and cornstarch. Puree.
- Roughly chop the chocolate. Pour the cherry mixture into a saucepan, add the chocolate, and place over low-medium heat.
- Stir constantly until the chocolate melts and the pudding thickens.
- Once the pudding is fully thickened, pour it carefully over the cherries in the bowls. Let cool.
- Refrigerate until serving.