Sometimes Mama would make chocolate pudding after school, and my sister and I would watch her measure and prepare the ingredients, combine everything, and then cook until the dark mixture would suddenly thicken. She’d pour the molten chocolate pudding into those glass cups with thick ruffled edges and let us swipe our little fingers against the side of the pan to get every last bit.
The stereotype of Appalachia—a region that stretches from the southern tip of New York to northern Mississippi—is a mountainous area sparsely populated by poor whites. But there has always been a lot more to that region—including a well-established Mexican community. Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the region. One wonderful and unique Mexican treat is Mexican chocolate, enhanced with spices such as cinnamon and cayenne, which my friend and colleague, chef Anthony Lamas of Seviche in Louisville, Kentucky, calls “truly a one-of-a-kind chocolate.” Although I’ll always love the chocolate pudding of my childhood, in homage to the Latin influences in the region, I’ve kicked up the flavor of these decidedly adult pudding cups with a bit of spice and heat to go along with the Kentucky bourbon cream.