Sometimes all we need is a bowl of
creamy smooth Vanilla Pudding to satisfy a craving. It is amazing how you can
take everyday ingredients like milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla, and transform
them into a dessert that tastes so good. It is easy to make, and it is delicious hot, at room temperature, or even cold. It looks so enticing when served in pretty bowls with a dollop of softly whipped cream and
a sprinkling of toasted nuts.
When you make Vanilla Pudding what you are really doing is making a ‘cooked’
custard. The difference between a pudding and a custard is that a pudding
contains cornstarch. Cornstarch is used to make the pudding
thick enough to eat with a spoon. Puddings have to be cooked carefully to
prevent lumps. So keep the heat fairly low and use a heavy bottomed
saucepan, making sure that you stir constantly with a large heatproof
silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Once the pudding has become thick, like mayonnaise, remove it
from the heat and add the butter and vanilla extract. If you have any
lumps, strain the
pudding. If you like
your vanilla pudding warm, then by all means eat it right away. But if
you like your pudding cold, simply press plastic wrap
onto the surface of the puddings and refrigerate until firm (a couple of hours). For those who like a skin (film) on the top of their pudding, let the pudding cool
uncovered and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Try to use good
quality ingredients when making a Vanilla Pudding. Since vanilla is
the prominent flavor in this vanilla pudding, try to use “pure” vanilla
extract. Another option is to use pure
vanilla bean paste. This paste contains vanilla seeds so your pudding will have
those lovely little black seeds in it. You can also use one whole vanilla
bean. To use the bean; cut it in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and
pulp. Add this, along with the pod, to your milk when you are bringing it to a
boil. The pod can then be removed, rinsed, dried, and placed in some granulated
white sugar to make vanilla sugar.
Vanilla Pudding: In a large
heatproof bowl, whisk 1/3 cup (65 grams) of the granulated white sugar with the
cornstarch, salt, eggs, and egg yolk. Whisk in 1/2 cup (120 ml/grams) of the milk. Set aside while you heat the
rest of the milk and sugar.
ready a fine medium-sized strainer and bowl as you might need
to strain the pudding after it is cooked.
Pour the remaining
3 cups (720 ml/grams) of milk, along with the remaining 1/4 cup (50 grams) of
sugar, into a medium heavy bottomed saucepan and bring just to a boil, stirring
occasionally. Remove from heat and gradually pour the hot milk into the egg
mixture, whisking constantly, until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the pudding
mixture to a heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat and bring just
to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook,
stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise
(about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla
extract and butter. If necessary, pour through the strainer to remove any lumps that may
have formed during cooking.
Pour the pudding
into six or eight serving dishes, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled, about two
hours. (If you like a skin (film) on the top of the puddings, let cool to room
temperature uncovered. Then cover and refrigerate until firm.)
Serve warm, cold, or at
room temperature with a
large dollop of softly whipped cream and chopped nuts.
Note: To toast
nuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Place the nuts on a baking
sheet and bake for about 8 – 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant.
Let cool then chop coarsely.
Makes 6 – 8 servings.
Preparation time 45 minutes.
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