All it takes is one pot and a whisk to bring this pudding together. Or, use your immersion blender for an ultra-smooth texture. The trick is to replace the eggs with a thickener that can take the heat.
Skipping the eggs also made it a short stride to a dairy-free version. In several tests, I substituted the half and half (or milk) with coconut milk and various nut milks. The best results came from the richer milks, especially coconut and cashew. Rice milk, on the other hand, was too thin in body for chocolate pudding. For a full-fledged vegan pudding, look on the label for dark chocolate brands that contain no milk solids.
Off heat, whisk the half and half, sugar, arrowroot and salt in a large saucepan until the sugar starts to dissolve.
Heat the mixture over medium-high heat and continue whisking. When it thickens to the consistency of heavy cream, just before it comes to a boil, turn off the heat but leave the pan on the burner. Add the chocolate, cover with a lid, and wait 30 seconds.
Remove the lid and use an immersion blender or whisk to blend it very smooth. Blend in the vanilla.
Divide the pudding to fill 4 6-ounce ramekins, or bowls. Let cool at room temperature until it sets, about 15 minutes, or cool to room temperature until ready to serve.
For ginger or Mexican chocolate variations, mix respective ingredients with the sugar in step 1, and top with crystallized ginger or cacao nibs accordingly.