Wednesday, February 15, 2017

19th Century Recipe: Mrs. DuPont's Chocolate Pudding

Ah, Chocolate Pudding

Recipe Provenance
The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

Chocolate by Mrs. Dupont
one quart new milk, four tablespoons full sifted sugar. 1/8 lb. of chocolate, two tablespoons full of oswega corn starch—put the sugar in the milk when it is ready to boil, have the chocolate grateand mixed with a little cold milk when the milk boils, stir it in and let it boil for some time ‘till the chocolate is well-cooked then add the cornstarch previously mixed with a little milk. Let it boil until it thickens—care must be taken to stir it frequently when it has boiled a short time and thickens, take it from the fire stir in a teaspoon full vanilla essence & boil in vanilla bean pour it while warm in the dish, it is to be served—one table spoon more corn starch.

About Oswego Starch and Vanilla Essence

Two ingredients in this recipe, "oswega corn starch" and "vanilla essence", are important to an historian because they help to date the recipe based on when these ingredients were made available to the public on a commercial basis. 

In 1847, Joseph Burnett, a Boston-based chemist, made the first vanilla extract. The extract was made from vanilla beans and became very popular because it was much easier to ship and store than the actual beans.

In 1848, Thomas Kingsford opened a corn refinery in Oswego, NY. He marketed a cornstarch trademarked “Silver Gloss” that was sold all over the US and Britain. 

Both of these ingredients date this recipe to after Ann Maria Morris’s death in 1847. It is also written in a different hand, which indicates that the book was in the hands of a new cook. As for Mrs. DuPont, there is no indication she was from the famous DuPont family from Delaware, but it is very possible given the Morris family's socioeconomic standing in Baltimore.

A Note on the Original Recipe

The original recipe in the manuscript just does not work; there is not enough cornstarch in it to allow it to set up properly. Therefore, I have adjusted it. Also, the type of chocolate to use is not specified. I used unsweetened and then added sugar according to my taste. You can adjust the amount of sugar as desired.

Modern Recipe Adaptation: Chocolate Pudding
Serves 6


  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar 
  • 7 Tablespoons Corn Starch 
  • 4 Cups Whole Milk 
  • 1 Vanilla Bean, Scraped 
  • 2 Ounces Unsweetened Chocolate, Grated 
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cornstarch.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the milk with the sugar/cornstarch mixture, and vanilla beans and pod. Whisk until well blended.
  3. Set over medium heat and bring just to the boil, remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Whisk the chocolate into the hot milk mixture until the color is a uniform milky chocolate.
  4. Heat the mixture over medium heat until it just reaches the boiling point and then reduce heat to low. Stir frequently for 3-4 minutes, until it starts to thicken and thickly coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. 
  5. Remove the vanilla pod and then whisk in the vanilla extract.
  6. Pour into heat-safe glasses or bowls and refrigerate at least two hours.
  7. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

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