Can a Black Pudding Cast Haste?

We decided to make a pudding dessert from Heroes' Feast and discovered that, while it didn't pack a pseudopod punch, it had another secret weapon: espresso powder.


Not the Monster

The black pudding recipe in Heroes' Feast is, perhaps not surprisingly, a dwarven delicacy:
Inspired by one of those nasty dungeon-dwelling beasties and based on a goblin dish called "elf pudding" (you don't want to know), this traditional coffee and chocolate mousse is sure to satisfy even the most discerning dwarven palate. This dense caffeinated dessert is known to keep dwarves working their forges until the wee hours. Eat it before it eats you!
We paired this dessert with the Reghed pot roast, which is why we really weren't paying too close attention to how much espresso powder was going into this recipe. That was a mistake.

Making your own pudding is more complicated than it might seem, as it requires folding the mixture over a strainer to give it a silky texture. Like some of the other recipes, it requires a lot of lead time even if it doesn't take a lot of time to make. It takes four to twelve hours to set, so you're not just going to whip this recipe up for your players without some preparation.

The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of instant espresso powder. That converts to about 2 ounces. And as you can see, that's not a small amount of caffeine:
Espresso powder, while it’s made with already brewed grounds, it still contains the same amount of caffeine as an espresso. A shot of espresso contains about 63mg of caffeine per 1-1.75 ounce. Making coffee using instant espresso will give you a more caffeinated coffee.
Roughly, that means the pudding contains about 120 mg of caffeine. That's double the caffeine of a typical 8-ounce coffee.

Surprise! This pudding tastes like coffee. I'm not a fan of coffee and my daughter isn't either. I ate her cup and my cup too (can't have our hard work go to waste!). That was a mistake.

Simply put, this is actually a great end-of-game dessert for your players if you're playing late into the night and they need to drive home. If they don't want to drink coffee, this is one way to get your caffeine boost. That said, if you don't like coffee, avoid black pudding. This is the first recipe we made that we later threw out.


About That Coffee...

The mythical origins of coffee seem like an adventure unto itself:
Kaldi, an Abyssinian goat herder from Kaffa, was herding his goats through a highland area near a monastery. He noticed that they were behaving very strangely that day, and had begun to jump around in an excited manner, bleating loudly and practically dancing on their hind legs. He found that the source of the excitement was a small shrub (or, in some legends, a small cluster of shrubs) with bright red berries. Curiosity took hold and he tried the berries for himself. Like his goats, Kaldi felt the energizing effects of the coffee cherries. After filling his pockets with the red berries, he rushed home to his wife, and she advised him to go to the nearby monastery in order to share these "heaven-sent" berries with the monks there. Upon arrival at the monastery, Kaldi's coffee beans were not greeted with elation, but with disdain. One monk called Kaldi's bounty "the Devil's work" and tossed it into a fire. However, according to legend, the aroma of the roasting beans was enough to make the monks give this novelty a second chance.
Although it's a modern staple at American breakfast tables, coffee's introduction to European regions was relatively recent, introduced in the 16th century through the island of Malta. Depending on the nature of your fantasy setting, coffee might be a flavor found in different parts of your world. That seems to be the case with the Forgotten Realms.


Coffee in Dungeons & Dragons

Aurora's Whole Realms Catalog lists coffee for the Forgotten Realms:
Though long familiar in the lands beyond Eastern Shaar, this beverage has gone all but unrecognized in the north. The dried beans are imported at great expense from distant Durpar and then carefully roasted and ground. Infused in hot water, coffee brews a stimulating tonic, excellent for combatting weariness and enhancing mental acuity. (50 gp/lb.)
That's one hint that coffee existed in the game, but Ed Greenwood confirmed that coffee was actually introduced in a few places:
Yes, there is, under various names. And other coffee-like drinks, too. "Kav" and about six other names (many of the early TSR staff existed on coffee and all of them made sure it was in the Realms, separately ;} without noticing I'd already put it in there).
The kaeth entry on the Forgotten Realms wiki shows just how prevalent fantasy coffee is there:
Kaeth was primarily produced in Maztica, the Anauroch desert, areas to the south and east of Durpar, and the jungle of Malatra. Around 1367 DR, it was claimed that coffee grew only in the Shining Lands of Durpar, Estagund, and Var the Golden, and coffee was the Shining Lands' most profitable export. However, coffee sold in Halruaa was said to come from Ulgarth, the land beyond Durpar, and it was said Ulgarth was where the only true coffee was grown.
The contradiction as to kaeth's origins stems from The Shining South sourcebook, on whether coffee comes from Durpar or Ulgarth. Ed explained in Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms that black coffee in the Realms is stronger than its real-world counterpart because of how it's prepared.

What are the game effects of drinking coffee? Check out Sage's Brew for some possibilities:
Sage's brew is basically a fantasy espresso. The way it's created can be determined by the DM. Coffee beans could be a rare import from a distant land where they're cheap and common. Maybe an alternative method of creation is distilling tea, which might be more common, but needs to be concentrated by a factor of 20. Or just say that it's a secret recipe of herbs held closely by sages and a small subset of nobles. I recommend saying that all of these are valid ways to create the brew, just like there are many ways to get caffeine into your system in the real world.
However you plan to introduce coffee into your system, be it tabletop or digestive, be sure your players know what they're getting into first!

Your Turn: What's your fantasy coffee called?
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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca


I live in the Black Country, and Chocolate mousse is NOT Black Pudding, as Corrosive said.
Unless you've made it with pigs blood. 😁

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