Making a luscious chocolate avocado pudding by substituting vitamin-rich, heart-healthy avocados for the cream and eggs has become something of a craze. But more often than not, these puddings are a far cry from the silky-smooth, ultra-chocolaty pudding we want, and yield a grainy texture and lackluster chocolate flavor that doesn’t conceal the vegetal notes. We knew we could do better without making the recipe too complicated. Rather than simply blending everything together, we started by creating a simple hot cocoa syrup in a saucepan (with a touch of espresso powder, vanilla, and salt to enhance the chocolate flavor). Meanwhile, we processed the flesh of two large avocados for a full two minutes until they were absolutely smooth. Next, with the food processor running, we carefully streamed in the cocoa syrup until the mixture was velvety and glossy. We finished by blending in a moderate amount of melted dark chocolate to give our pudding a wonderfully full chocolate flavor and additional richness. We prefer the flavor of 70 percent dark chocolate in this recipe, though higher cacao percentages will also work.

Serves 6
• 1 cup water
• ¾ cup (5¼ ounces) sugar
• ¼ cup (¾ ounce) unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 2 large ripe avocados (8 ounces each), halved and pitted
• 3½ ounces 70 percent dark chocolate, chopped

      1. Combine water, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, espresso powder (if using), and salt in small saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar and cocoa dissolve, about 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and cover to keep warm.
      2. Scoop flesh of avocados into food processor bowl and process until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. With processor running, slowly add warm cocoa mixture in steady stream until completely incorporated and mixture is smooth and glossy, about 2 minutes.
      3. Microwave chocolate in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Add to avocado mixture and process until well incorporated, about 1 minute. Transfer pudding to bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve.

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