Vanilla Pudding

I made vanilla pudding yesterday – it did not turn out well. It was way too sweet, it was lumpy – it wasn’t compost material but it definitely was not one I was ever going to make again. I was disappointed, to say the least – not that there’s any left (I didn’t eat it all, just my tester portion).

I have to say, chocolate pudding is my favourite – no surprise there – but I do like a different pudding now and again. I really like pistachio flavoured pudding (not so fond of the green colour) but the pudding, less any tiny shell pieces, is really good. Banana pudding – icy cold – is really good. I like butterscotch also. The problem for me is that all of these puddings are from boxes….from the store. Mix powder-with-milk puddings. I never remember to buy these and cravings never strike in the middle of the grocery store – they strike at 11 pm on a Sunday night, when you’re in your pajamas and have no interest in getting civilized for a trip to a store that isn’t open anyway. This being the case, what I’ve been doing is recreating my favourites – so when the need (and it is a need) strikes, I’ve got homemade solutions. Here is vanilla. I figured vanilla was the base for anything else and what a great place to start.

Ingredients: This takes about 10-20 minutes to make and 4-6 hours to cool completely

  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 3 TB cornstarch
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 TB unsalted butter

In a medium saucepan off the heat, mix the sugar, cornstarch, salt, the egg yolks and about a quarter of a cup of the milk with a whisk. Get it as smooth as you can. Once it’s as smooth as it’s going to get, add the rest of the milk and turn the heat onto medium.

NOTE: if you are using vanilla from a bean or a vanilla paste, you can add it now. If you are using vanilla extract, wait until you’re done cooking the pudding. Extract loses its flavour when heated, so add it near last and preferably when you’re done the cooking portion of whatever recipe you’re making. (Obviously, if you’re baking a cake, this doesn’t hold.)

Heat the milk mixture to a gentle boil, stirring nearly constantly. I used a silicon spatula to stir so I could get anything off the bottom and sides of the pan.

It is done when you can coat the spatula, take it out of the pan and run your finger through the pudding on the spatula (not in the pan) and the pudding won’t run into the finger line you just made.

You will notice the difference from when you started to when it’s finished.

Take it off the burner (turn the burner off, you’re done with it), and mix in the vanilla if you haven’t already. Stir in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. This will make the pudding glossier – again, there will be a noticeable difference from before you stirred it in to after.

Pour the finished pudding into a bowl, let it cool down a bit, put a piece of cling wrap over it (touching the surface of the pudding) and put it in the fridge to cool and thicken even more.

I don’t do this – I can’t wrap my brain around putting plastic wrap right on my pudding – it’s going to peel off a whole layer of pudding when you take it off. That’s crazy talk! I just put it in a bowl, waited until it cooled a bit, put a lid on top and put the works in the fridge. A very thin skin formed on the top, but a quick mix and no one will ever know unless they read this.

In a nod to eating somewhat healthy, I do add fruit of some kind to the top of my vanilla pudding. Chocolate pudding, though? All bets, and fruit, are off.

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