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Serves 4

Because this pudding is thickened with cornstarch, not eggs, and kept as guilt-free as possible, it’s at its best hot, maybe with a small dollop of whipped cream melting on top. My children have certainly never complained about getting a chilled cup of this in their lunchboxes; just know that it sets up quite firmly in the fridge. If you’d rather eat it cold, cut back on the cornstarch to 2 tablespoons. The almond extract is a wonderful touch, but you can also play with other flavors, such as mint, or orange or raspberry liqueur, or rum, or my favorite, Sambuca. This is based on a recipe I cut out of Bon Appetit magazine, and have loved ever since.

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3 tablespoons cornstarch (see note above)

1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

Pinch to 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (I like the higher level of salt)

2 cups cold milk, anything from 1 percent to whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

In a medium saucepan, thoroughly whisk together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, flour and salt. Thoroughly whisk in 1 cup milk, then remaining cup. Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until thickened; when it reaches a simmer, cook 1 more minute. Off the heat, whisk in vanilla and almond extracts. Serve hot, or chill up to 2 days (by the second day, the pudding may look slightly watery on top — just drain that off).

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