Don’t get me wrong…when my mother made pudding, it was the best day of the whole week. But she always made pudding from a box; it was always the cooked kind and not instant. We didn’t know any better, and it was great. Then I went to culinary school and I started making things from “scratch”. When you think of what’s in the box, it is by necessity of lesser quality. The basic ingredients of pudding are: milk, egg yolk, cornstarch, sugar, and some flavoring.This recipe barely takes longer than using “the box” and everyone will notice the difference.
Here we use caramelized sugar and a vanilla bean for flavor. You can substitute pure vanilla extract, not the imitation flavor, or vanilla bean paste if you like. If you use the whole bean, make a slit down the middle lengthwise and use a spoon or a knife to scrape the seeds out. The left over pod can be stored in a cup of sugar to make vanilla sugar. We used whole milk but any type of milk will do. The butter is added at the end to lighten and enrich the pudding. It may be omitted if you insist but a little bit of fat won’t harm you and will be noticeable. If it does kill you….what a way to go.
makes approximately 6 1/2 cup servings
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch
- 3 cups milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 vanilla bean or (2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste) if you use extract or paste, add at the end
Place the sugar in a saucepan and give it a little shake to make the sugar level. Melt the sugar over low heat. When the sugar is a nice caramel color, gradually add the milk, vanilla bean, and salt, stirring to blend. Cook stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved and is heated through. Do not boil the milk at this point. In a mixing bowl lightly beat the eggs and add the cornstarch to the eggs. Add some of the heated milk to the mixing bowl to temper the eggs before adding to them to the hot milk. Bring to a boil, continue cooking and stirring until the mixture thickens, about one minute. If using extract or paste, add them at this time. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter. Cool the pudding slightly and place into 6 individual serving dishes, cover with film wrap, and chill.
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
Caramelize the sugar as above; add the almonds; stir to coat; then pour onto a silicone mat or parchment paper. Quickly shape the brittle with a spoon before it cools too much. Let cool and serve with pudding or ice cream.