Even people who claim not to like the combination of chocolate and mint will enjoy this grownup iteration that uses a splash of absinthe to balance the mint’s flavor. If you don’t have absinthe, you can use Green Chartreuse, a menthol-like amaro such as Forthave Spirits’ Marseille or even a floral gin like Hendricks — anything that has a pleasantly medicinal/floral or eucalyptus-like aroma to play up that of the mint while taking away its candy-sweet edge.
Using gelatin instead of eggs allows the flavor of the mint to prevail unencumbered by the extra fat of yolks. It also means the pudding is much easier to make for those wary of cooking a custard.
Pour 1/4 cup milk into a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the surface and stir to combine; the gelatin will clump in the milk but that’s fine — just keep stirring until it is all moistened and submerged in the milk. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the gelatin to soften.
Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1 cup milk, the cream, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar, until the mixture just begins to bubble at the edge of the pan (not boil).
Remove the pan from the heat and add the gelatin mixture. Stir to dissolve the gelatin fully, then add the chocolate, mint candies, vanilla and absinthe. Let stand for 1 minute to allow the chocolate to melt.
Using an immersion blender or regular blender, blend until the mixture is completely smooth, 20 to 30 seconds. Blending will create foam on top of the liquid; if you want to get rid of the foam, pour the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into another pitcher. If not, skip this step; it’s for aesthetics only.
Set 4 to 8 small ramekins, cups or bowls on a baking sheet and divide the pudding mixture among the dishes (or pour the pudding into one shallow dish at least 2 quarts in volume). Transfer the sheet to the refrigerator and chill the puddings until fully set, at least 8 hours or overnight.
If you like, top each pudding with a sprinkling of cacao nibs, then a dollop of whipped cream. Garnish each with a small bunch of mint leaves before serving.
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