Stovetop Chocolate Pudding: Mini Chocolate Cream Pies with a dollop of deep discussion

Haven’t you ever wanted to sit down and eat an entire pizza by yourself? Or how about a whole cake? (Guilty, your Honor).

I have a brother who, given time, could probably devour a whole cheesecake by himself were my mother not there to bop him with a wooden spoon to make him stop.

My point is that sometimes you want the whole thing all to yourself, no sharing. I think this is a real driving point behind so many of today’s convenience foods. Individual bags of potato chips have been around for a very long time; but these days you can get an individual serving of salsa to go with them plus a pre-made, pre-wrapped PB&J sandwich, a mini-can of soda, and a single-serving carton of ice cream for dessert.

Do you think it’s because we’re concerned about not getting our fair share of the communal pot? Perhaps we’re becoming so me-centric that we don’t want to have to deal with others at meal time? Is it strictly for hygienic purposes?

I know these are controversial issues; but let’s talk about them. Here, I’ll give you some time to gather your thoughts while we prepare this new recipe, Stovetop Chocolate Pudding, which we’ll turn into mini chocolate cream pies. 01-DSCN1914 Put the following Into a heavy-bottomed saucepan: 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (natural or dutch-process, your choice) 1/4 cup cornstarch 1 2/3 cups water Whisk together well. 02-DSCN1918 After the initial whisking, blend in one 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, and 3 large egg yolks. You’ll need to whisk the mixture constantly to avoid big lumps. At first you’ll see the surface covered with speckles of chocolate. This is cocoa powder that’s become encapsulated in water. As the water heats, the cocoa will be absorbed and the specks will disappear. 04-DSCN1921 Keep whisking, and after 4 to 5 minutes the mixture will begin to thicken. When it’s the consistency of regular pudding, remove the pan from the heat. Resist sneaking a spoonful just yet; there’s more goodness to add. 05-DSCN1922 Quickly stir in 2 tablespoons soft butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder. You can surely leave out the espresso powder, but it really does heighten the flavor of the chocolate – and doesn’t make the pudding taste like coffee. 06-DSCN1925 The pudding will become silky smooth and glossy. NOW you can snitch a bit for your “quality control” check. 07-DSCN1927 You can skip the step of pressing the hot mixture through a sieve; and I HAVE skipped it many times in the past. I’ve started doing this more often, though,as it really does give you the very best, very smoothest results. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the fridge for several hours.


To make mini pies, cut 2″ circles from your favorite pie dough recipe. Make a single slit from the outer edge to the center, to aid in fitting the circles into the pan.

Quick game of Pac-Man, anyone? 08-DSCN1933 Place the rounds into the wells of a mini-cupcake/muffin tin that’s been lightly spritzed with cooking spray. Use the slit you cut to help overlap the pastry a tiny bit, so your rounds fit in better.

Press the open edges of the pastry together to seal. Prick (“dock”) the bottom of each crust several times with a fork. In hindsight, I bet a fondue fork would be great for this – nice small head to fit in the well.

Bake the crusts in a preheated 350°F oven for 9 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, and place it on a rack for the crusts to cool completely. 10-DSCN1935

To serve, place a dollop of pudding into each pie shell, and top with whipped cream.

If you want to go the s’mores route, consider making marshmallow topping from your 3 leftover egg whites. Spread the fluffy stuff on top of each pie, and toast with a torch or under the broiler.

Now that we have something to chew on – literally! – let’s get back to chewing the fat on the single serving size discussion.

Where do you stand? Do you want that individual cup of peanut butter for sanitary reasons, or to ensure no one has messed it up with jelly traces? Do you come from a large family of 13 (like my friend Don) and need to know it’s yours for keeps? Maybe you’re firmly on the other side of the fence, and only serve family-style?

Step right up and share your view in our comments section. As long as there’s no name-calling or choice-shaming, let’s talk.

Please make, rate, and review our recipe for Stovetop Chocolate Pudding.

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Best advice–get creative and go on a scavenger hunt around your house with your pan in hand! You might come across candle holders, pestles, shot glasses or other random kitchen items that just happen to fit perfectly into your mini muffin pan. You’re looking for something round with a smooth bottom. It doesn’t have to fit perfectly–smaller items can work too. Just apply pressure in a circular motion so that the crust is pressed all the way to the edges. Good luck with the hunt! Kye@KAF

  1. Candace

    To add to Yvonne’s comment, the added packaging of single serve things is really irresponsible. I do understand that for some of us (like myself) the portion control thing helps. Or if you are alone and have to buy too large a quantity for one person. But sandwiches?

  2. Yvonne

    MaryJane — you’re a knitter?!?

    And the pudding sounds delicious.

    And to answer your question — I think some of the single serve things are ridiculous (peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, for example) — that’s just plain lazy. Also single serves of peanut butter — there’s no reason you can’t plop some into a Tupperware or Rubbermaid container to make it more portable. But I’m wondering how much of it is portion-control oriented, in a society where over 160 million of us are overweight or obese. (Obtained that number from an NBC survey brought up by Google.) Are companies looking to gain (ha!) by offering the single serving portions of things, so that we really don’t need to learn self control? (And I, unfortunately, is one of those folks who has a hard time with self control. Present me with a bowl of freshly whipped cream, and it will be gone. Espresso buttercream? Yes, please – the bowl and the beaters. Marshmallow topping? Mine. — very, very sadly mine.)

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Yes, I started knitting about 2 years ago when surgery placed me firmly on the couch for 6 weeks. In June. I just took up spinning, so I’m feeding my yarn habit by making my own now.

      I hear ya loud and clear on having no self control, but I’m getting better. Now that you’ve mentioned Espresso buttercream though, all bets are off! ~ MJ

    2. Yvonne

      Yay! You’ve really gone down the rabbit hole then, haven’t you? Look me up on Ravelry — I’m you-von on there. 🙂

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You should find the Pinterest icon on the sidebar of your computer’s screen.~Jaydl@KAF

  3. PAUL from Ohio

    So fantastic to have a pudding recipe whose directions note that it will thicken in about 5 minutes….and by the timer, and using a whisk instead of stirring with a spoon….look at that, thickened right up, on time and so amazing. I used Tapioca Starch which is THE BEST as a thickener. I’m thinking the addition of about 3 oz of 70% Cacao Ghiradelli Premium Chocolate Bar, or perhaps a swath of carmel swirled into the pudding. DELICIOUS too…….no pastry, just gobbled it down with some fresh strawberries!!!

    Paul, isn’t is amazing that something from childhood is still so powerful to eat as a grownup??? I think more cacao can only make a good thing better….Susan

  4. Susan

    My KAF espresso powder has hardened. Anything I can do with it? How do I prevent that from happening? It was stored in my lazy Susan cabinet.

    1. PJ Hamel

      Susan, this happens to mine eventually, too. I put it into my mini food processor and grind it up to powder again. Try to keep it as airtight as possible; it seems to help to slip the jar into a zip-top plastic bag. Good luck – PJH

    2. sharon

      my espresso powder got pushed to the back of the cabinet. It is several years old. It also had hardened. Does it ever go bad, or can i just mash it up and use it? I couldn’t see anything that could go bad, I just thought it might have lost some of its strength.

    3. PJ Hamel

      Should be just fine, Sharon – when that happens to my espresso powder, I grind it in my mini food processor, and it seems to be good as new. PJH

  5. Ana

    I noticed someone asked about freezing the pies. Can one just freeze the cooked pastries and thaw them out in fridge? How long will the pudding keep in the fridge without spoiling or loosing the flavor?
    Thank you

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      For the best results, freeze your baked (empty) pie shells, then make fresh pudding to fill. Store in the fridge for about 3 days. ~ MJ

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