Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch & salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk to combine ingredients.
Slowly whisk in the almond milk. Using a spatula, scrape the sides & bottom of sauce pan & whisk. (The dry ingredients like to gather on the sides at the bottom of the pan.)
Heat saucepan over medium heat.
Whisk frequently scraping the bottom, sides & center. Pay attention to whisk any lumps.
After about 5 minutes the pudding will start to simmer. Continue to cook for a minute or two, whisking, until pudding reaches desired thickness.
Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract until creamy & combined.
Layer pudding in dishes, cups or a bowl and refrigerate at least an hour before serving. Store covered.
Sprinkle or layer with toppings if desired.
NOTE - I layered this pudding recipe with peanut butter pudding - recipe is prior.