Filling up on chocolate pudding with strawberries

If you like chocolate and strawberries, Kozy Shack has a new dessert that's right up you alley - bowls of creamy chocolate pudding studded with pieces of strawberries. Most members of the Times-Union Consumer Panel enjoyed the dessert, but a couple gave it a thumbs down.

A half-cup serving of the refrigerated pudding contains 150 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 105 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of sugars, 10 milligrams of cholesterol and no trans fat.

Instead of eating the dessert as a pudding, state administrator Andy Rusnak followed label directions and made it into a pie. After putting the pudding into a graham cracker crust, he spread it with whipped topping and placed it in the freezer for about an hour. He said it became nice and thick.

"It's a pretty good idea for a pie," he said. "It has a good amount of milk chocolate flavor, and it's sweet but not overly so. I could taste the strawberries but didn't see them."

Rusnak said Jell-O is his favorite pudding brand. "If I needed to make a pie in a hurry, I'd buy the Kozy Shack."

Business owner Tasha Conching said she also likes Jell-O puddings, but after trying the Kozy Shack pudding, she said she liked it better than plain chocolate pudding. She said she plans to buy it again and make it into a pie.

"It's a very good combination," she said. "It has lots of small slivers of strawberries and a lot of chocolate flavor. "

Conching did say the pudding looked pretty weird when she opened it. "It probably was separated, but I stirred it up, and it was fine."

"The pudding is a little sweeter than I'd normally like," said businesswoman Cathy McCarty, who described it as slightly chunky. She said she could taste the flavors of both chocolate and strawberry but said the chocolate flavor was much stronger.

"I'd rather have chocolate pudding with strawberries on the side but not blended together," she said. "Or the real thing, chocolate-covered strawberries."

Pre-kindergarten teacher Michelle Sheraga said she didn't care for the pudding at all and said her kids wouldn't try it. She described the consistency of the pudding as more like yogurt, watery in parts and separated, and kind of chewy.

"The combination is awful," she said. "It has chocolate flavor, but it's overpowered by the strawberries, which are in little tidbits, and they're kind of watery - like they were frozen and thawed."

Computer specialist Lewis Stallings said he preferred plain chocolate pudding but still enjoyed the Chocolate Covered Strawberries Pudding, which he described as very thick with small pieces of strawberries and a good chocolate flavor. "I couldn't decide if the flavor was milk chocolate or dark chocolate," he said. "It's between the two."

Stallings purchased two bowls of the pudding and said the first was very sweet and got runny after a day or two. He liked the second bowl better and said it wasn't as sweet and stayed thick for several days .

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