How to Make Zero Waste Pudding Cups

For Marilyn’s 4th birthday she was adamant about having a camping birthday before she was even 3 1/2. As the time got closer she did not waiver on her choice so we planned a wonderful weekend of camping with friends including a big fireside party. While we were flipping through some of my old Martha Stewart magazines for summer inspiration she came across an ad with pudding cups and asked if she could have those, she’s a huge chocolate fan. I fondly remember pudding cups as a kid. Pulling back the plastic-y foil tops and using my spoon to attack every nook for the chocolatey goodness. Looking back the pudding was really not that great, and I hang my head in shame thinking of all the waste they created. So it got me thinking, how could I recreate that childhood favorite for my own child without leaving a huge footprint?


I stumbled upon this recipe from Martha Stewart and this became the inspiration, especially for the party dessert. All of the ingredients are available in bulk at my local grocer and since many people, especially my mother, are not huge fans of mint I decided to omit it. Some of the ingredients can be locally sourced, but many cannot so be conscience of where they are coming from if you can. I could not find any chocolate wafer cookies in bulk, or at any of my local bakeries, so I bought some nut free brownies and blended them in the food processor for an extra yummy topping! You could certainly make your own brownies, I needed to cut some corners since I had a party weekend for 30+ to prep for. We garnished with mint sprigs from our garden, so they resembled pots of “dirt”, considering we were camping for several days and were all covered in the real stuff 🙂

Zero Waste Pudding Cups

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 -8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 8-10 jars
  • For “dirt pots” – 6 brownies
  • Garnish: mint sprigs
  1. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Combine cream, milk, and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup.

  2. Pour 1 cup cream mixture into sugar mixture, and whisk until cornstarch is dissolved. Add remaining cream mixture, and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and cook until thick. Reduce heat to low, and add chocolate. Whisk until chocolate melts.

  3. Remove from heat. Add butter, and whisk until butter melts. Quickly (very quickly) divide pudding, whisking as you work to prevent sides from setting up, among 8-10 jam jars, screw on tops and refrigerate until set, about 1 1/2 hours and up to 3 days. Enjoy them cold.

    If you want to make the “dirt” pots leave some space in the jars while filling with pudding. Pulse brownies in a food processor until small chunks appear, don’t go too far because you’ll create a paste. Right before serving top each pudding with some brownie (don’t worry if it gets chunky) and a sprig of mint.


    We kept our puddings cool in an ice chest with lids screwed on tight and topped them right before serving. I made a total of 30, which was quite a challenge but they were very well received. 🙂 This pudding is thick and almost like a cross between ganache and a mousse, you’re kids will love it and its good enough for adults too! If your family is like mine, make extras, sticky fingers will definitely consume more than one.

    Put them in smaller jars to make them go farther or the perfect size for lunch boxes. The pudding is so simple to make and tasty I am sure this will become a favorite!

    Remember lighting our footprint is not about going without, but rather rethinking our “routines” and getting creative!


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