Warm, silky chocolate pudding, topped with candied pecans and whipped cream. Both the pudding and the candied pecans can be made ahead!
1 1/2cupswhipping cream
1 1/2cupwhole milk
1tspvanillaor vanilla bean paste
2Tbsp + 1 tspcornstarch
2Tbspunsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4tspkosher salt1/4-1/2 tsp less if using fine salt and even less if you used salted butter
4oz.70% cacao chocolatechopped
Whipped creamfor topping
For the candied pecans (can be made well ahead): Preheat oven to 325F. Whisk egg white in a medium bowl until frother. Whisk in sugar, then add the pecans. Toss until the pecans are well coated. Spread out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven, stirring every 10 minutes, until browned and dry, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet. Use immediate or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
For the pudding: Add cream, milk, butter and vanilla to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combinea nd bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt.
As soon as the cream mixture comes to a simmer, remove from heat. Remove a ladle-full of the warm cream and very slowly (a drop at a time at first!), add to the egg mixture while whisking the egg mixture constantly. Keep whisking and adding the warm cream, increasing to a slow stream, until the entire ladle-full has been added. Repeat with another ladle-full. When two ladles have been added, add the egg mixture to the saucepan with the remaining cream and whisk to combine. Return saucepan to burner over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the pudding is completely smooth. Pour into serving cups. Top with candied pecans and a dollop of whipped cream.
Notes: Pudding can also be made up to 2 days ahead, if you prefer. Rather than pour into cups, remove to a heat-proof bowl (glass or metal). Lay plastic wrap overtop so that the wrap comes into contact with the top of the pudding to prevent it from forming a skin, then refrigerate. To rewarm, place your bowl over a pot of simmering water (making sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl) and stir pudding until re-warmed, then serve as above.