I was pleased to see Mary Robinette Kowal’s recent recipe for dairy-free faux parmesan and thought I’d chime in. As a recently-discovered lactose intolerant, I’ve spent more time than I’d like looking for lactose-free recipes. Sure, you can take pills but isn’t it nicer not to? Instead of timing your medication precisely and watching the clock to make sure you haven’t over-eaten your lactase welcome, or realizing too late that you’ve forgotten your pills, avoid the problem in the first place.
Lactose-free options also make life easier for hosts. I still wince at a dinner party we gave in my pre-intolerance days, where a guest who accepted the invitation with a breezy “Oh, no, I can eat anything,” looked at her cream soup and asked if I had anything without lactose. Whoops.
This modified version of Mark Bittman’s Mexican chocolate pudding recipe is rich and creamy, flour-less and lactose free. This isn’t one of those “good for an I-have-to-eat-this-way” recipes, it’s just good.
If you’re avoiding soy this isn’t the dessert for you, but otherwise I recommend it without reservation. It is fast, easy and delicious.
(Not All That is Creamy is Milk) Chocolate Pudding
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 pound silken tofu*
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted**
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1. Heat sugar with 3/4 cup water over medium heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool slightly while the chocolate melts.
2. Put all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides to combine everything completely. Chill for at least 30 minutes, although longer gives a denser final pudding.
Garnish with raspberries and fresh mint or eat directly from the container with a spoon, your choice. Serves 4 to 6. Or one very hungry writer.
* My grocery stores carry tofu in Tetra Pak boxes or water packed, but the important point is to find the silken variety. If you can only find 12oz boxes, I recommend getting two and increasing the recipe 1.5 times.
** Double boil if you like but I have good luck melting chocolate in my microwave at 20-30% power. I do this much chocolate ~three minutes at a time, stirring in between zaps. The chocolate taste is dominant so better is… better. While Valrhona is sure to be delicious I’ve had very good luck with a short ingredient list generic chocolate from my local grocery, so don’t feel constrained by the tyranny of premium labels. Look for one without added milk ingredients and off you go.
A final comment on lactose: I was surprised to find that a lot of the foods I thought were off-limits actually contain very little lactose. Imagine my joy to find that brie and many other aged or fermented cheeses are essentially lactose free, not to mention butter and long-fermented yogurt. Find your own comfort level, of course, but that was a game changer for me. A quick crib for cheese is to check the nutritional information chart on the label. Grocery chain Wegman’s put out a post on this, and also lists other cheeses with low lactose levels:
An easy way to check for lactose in cheese is to look at the Nutrition Facts under “Sugar” Since the sugar in cheese is lactose, you can easily see how much lactose the cheese contains. If the sugar is listed as zero, then the cheese contains no more than half a gram of lactose per ounce. Compare to 12 grams of lactose in an 8 ounce glass of milk.