Not all of the recipes I turn up are winners from the get-go. My “eureka” moment in finding Gram’s recipe for soft chocolate custard with meringue turned sour the other day.

Why? Because I forgot the primary rule of melting chocolate: Don’t get it wet.

Remember that bad experience you had with the old double-boiler — the one where the top didn’t quite fit — in your attempt to melt four squares of Baker’s unsweetened chocolate? The splash, and the subsequent seize-up? Yeah. Well. I blocked that out. When this newly found recipe read “melt chocolate in 1/4 cup water and stir,” my red flags just lay there on the tarmac.

Seized up and not mixing well!

After the seizure, I dumped the hardening chocolate into the custard base. Much stirring later, the chocolate still clumped.

My friend Zoë and I reminisced about chocolate and water disasters, and we talked about fixes for this recipe. Cocoa, maybe? (Possibly not chocolatey enough.) Melt the chocolate straight in the custard? Melt the chocolate plain, and temper the custard and chocolate together? Any of these might work. And I now dedicate myself to the pursuit of chocolate custard that doesn’t fight in the pan.

Local tasters for chocolate pudding? Anyone? Anyone?

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