A hint of fennel is an unexpected and delicious addition to classic chocolate pudding. If you like, serve the pudding topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream. You can use aniseeds in place of the fennel seeds; the flavor will be more pronounced.
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds, chopped
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
How to Make It
In a medium stainless-steel saucepan, bring the milk, 2/3 cup of the cream, the cocoa, and the fennel seeds to a boil, whisking occasionally. Remove from the heat and let the mixture infuse, covered, for 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until pale yellow.
Bring the milk mixture back to a boil and then strain it into the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth and pour back into the saucepan. Cook over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Add the chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup cream. Pour the pudding into individual bowls and chill.