A dinner party without dessert is like a musical without a third act: if there isn't a sweet little number to wrap up the show, it all feels incomplete. But I get it. The challenge of entertaining makes a store-bought dessert all the more tempting, but with a little planning, you can surprise your guests with a decadent last bite without much hassle at all. Make these mini chocolate pudding parfaits in advance and pull them out of the refrigerator when dinner is through. It's a win-win when everyone gets their own chocolate treat and you get to be where you belong — enjoying the party.
Things You'll Need
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups 2 percent milk
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
6 to 7 (approximately 6 ounces) chocolate graham crackers
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely grated
3 large resealable freezer bags
6 (5 ounce) parfait glasses
Step 1: Make the Chocolate Pudding
In a large sauce pan, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt until they are well combined. While continuously whisking, slowly add the milk to the dry ingredients and break up any lumps that form. Add the egg yolks and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth.
Turn the heat to "medium" and cook the pudding until it starts to thicken and the bubbles have to fight their way to the surface. Then, turn the heat off and strain the pudding through a fine mesh sieve and into a large bowl. Add the two tablespoons of cubed butter and stir until it's melted into the pudding. Finally, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming, and place the bowl in the refrigerator.
Step 2: Prepare the Chocolate Crumbs
Place the chocolate graham crackers in a large resealable bag. Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound the graham crackers to break them up into very small pieces. Transfer the crumbs into a small bowl and combine them with four tablespoons of melted butter.
Step 3: Make the Whipped Cream
In a tall, narrow container, whip the heavy cream using an immersion blender. Once soft peaks form, add a tablespoon of sugar and continue whipping until the cream has doubled in size. Transfer the whipped cream into a resealable bag, and cut a small hole in one of the bottom corners. This will make it easy to pipe the whipped cream into the parfaits.
Step 4: Assemble the Parfaits
Transfer the pudding from the bowl into a resealable bag. Clip one of the bottom corners of the bag and pipe a few tablespoons of the pudding into the bottom of each parfait glass. Follow with a tablespoon of the buttery chocolate crumbs. Repeat these steps once more before adding a layer of whipped cream.
Now, continue layering the ingredients into the glasses. Pipe about a tablespoon of the whipped cream into each parfait glass, followed by another layer of pudding and another layer of crumbs. Once you get to the tops of the glasses, finish with dollops of whipped cream and grated chocolate on top.
Step 5: Chill and Serve
Chill the parfaits for at least two hours before serving, or up to a day in advance. When it's time for dessert, pass some spoons around and enjoy!