You Have Full Permission To Make These EVERY Night

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embred 4Photo: Courtesy of Joy the Baker.
Every day I need a treat. A little something that says "Hey, I see you trying to get through this day standing on your own two feet and you deserve this special treat.”

Today, that treat is these creamy, crunchy, salty, sweet, chocolate-studded pudding cups.

Espresso, Almond, and Chocolate Pudding Cups
makes 6 to 8 cups

Ingredients:
(Pudding recipe adapted from The Joy of Baking)

For the pudding:
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp espresso powder
2 tsp pure vanilla etract
1 tbsp unsalted butter

For the whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp powdered sugar
Pinch of salt

For the topping:
2 1/2 cups crumbled vanilla wafers
2 bars (7 ounces) Ghirardelli intense Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Soiree, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
Pinch of grey sea salt

Instructions:
1. In a large, heat-proof bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, eggs, egg yolk, and espresso powder. Whisk in 1/2 cup of milk. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the remaining 3 cups milk and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Whisk until the mixture begins to steam and bubble. Remove from the heat.

3. Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to warm the egg mixture. Mix until smooth. Transfer the pudding mixture back to the saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture has thickened to consistency of mayonnaise, about 5 minutes.

embed 2Photo: Courtesy of Joy the Baker.
4. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and butter. Transfer to a large bowl, pouring though a fine mesh strainer if you think you have any lumps in your pudding. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent a pudding skin from forming. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

5. To assemble the puddings, add about 3 heaping tablespoons of crumbled vanilla wafers to 8 small glasses. Divide the chilled pudding into each cup. Top each pudding cup with whipped cream. Top each whipped cream mound with a generous amount of chocolate chunks, almond pieces, and a small sprinkling of sea salt.

6. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for a least an hour before serving. Pudding cups are best served within 2 days.

Personally, I like to get a bit of each layer in every bite. It’s just a little game I like to play with my dessert and my spoon. The cookies soften slightly as they absorb the pudding. The espresso pudding is creamy and sweet, with just the right amount of coffee bitterness. Whipped cream is the extra creamy interlude to the grand finale: Ghirardelli’s Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree Chocolate with crunchy almonds and a pinch of sea salt.

Next: The Single Pancake That You'll Make Again And Again

We may have Joy the Baker's infamous "Man Bait" Apple Crisp recipe committed to memory, but it's not the only reason we're loyal to this self-taught dessert maven. Joy's hilariously soulful commentary, undying devotion to butter, and steadfast belief that cake is a perfectly acceptable breakfast choice are what really keep us coming back for more.