Your Instant Chocolate Pudding Will Taste Expensive With One Simple Swap

Humble chocolate pudding is often — and unfairly — relegated to children's lunches. But, the truth is, the tasty treat can be so much more. Especially the boxed instant stuff, which is a breeze to prepare and needs just one simple ingredient swap to transform into pudding's sophisticated older sibling known as mousse. All it takes is some heavy whipping cream. 

Instead of preparing the mixture with water or nonfat milk, use heavy whipping cream and beat the mixture with an electric mixer. You can even whip the cream until fluffy and then fold in the powder, though you might risk deflating some of the fluff when you're combining. By introducing air, you'll create a luxurious, dressed-up dessert.

For added stability, you can also prepare the mixture according to the box, and then blend with a defrosted frozen whipped topping before it sets. This combination will have even more staying power, which is helpful for preparing dessert for later. To make the flavor more pronounced, you can add cocoa powder to bolster the chocolate, too.

What is instant pudding and why is it so useful?

Introduced to shoppers in 1918, boxed pudding mixes slowly worked their way into households for decades. The fast-cooking powder is special because it taps into the power of a modified cornstarch to rapidly thicken into a gooey dessert sans heat. The special-made cornstarch is more stable, which means it can stay airy for longer and doesn't need time to cool. On the other hand, a typical mousse is delicate and relies on fragile whipped egg whites or cream to stay vertical, while a pudding usually requires heat to cook and congeal.

That's why some cooks count on pudding mix to strengthen whipped creams, custards, and cake fillings. Recently, professional chefs and home cooks have gone so far as to dub the inexpensive ingredient a secret weapon. They've found the enriched powder not only stabilizes desserts, it also helps retain moisture in baked goods. Try as they might, even the experts struggle to find another ingredient capable of achieving the same effect.

As such, all flavors of the instant pudding still find their way into expensive pastry shops and even Magnolia Bakery's famous banana pudding. Home bakers also use the boxes to elevate boxed cake mix, protecting it from drying out. Once you start using instant pudding, you'll find a place for it in everything from soft cookies to moist banana bread, too.

Serving up mousse

Though delicious as-is, you can continue dressing up your instant pudding mousse with a handful of other grocery items. Buy a chocolate cookie crust from the store and fill it with the mousse, and you'll be in possession of an elegant (and easily transportable) no-bake pie. Spread extra whipped cream on top and decorate with chocolate curls or more crumbled cookies, if you feel inclined, for extra pizazz.

You can also use the mousse as a layer in a trifle. Bake a boxed cake mix to create another rich element, and finish with the remainder of your whipped topping and cut-up fruit. You can also use the mousse to create a chocolate tiramisu. Soak ladyfinger cookies in java and booze before using them as a base for your adult treat.

If you prefer more of a tang, skip the heavy cream and swap in a different dairy product. Add a tablespoon of powder into fluffy Greek yogurt containers for a cheesecake duplicate. Top things off with magic shell on your yogurt cups for texture. We suggest serving the results in coupe glasses to create an expensive-looking final course.