Let’s talk pudding.
It doesn’t sound sexy like “panna cotta” or sophisticated like “pot de crem.” It sounds like the kind of thing you eat out of a plastic container with an aluminum peel on top which, for many people who grew up with Billy Cosby shilling for it on TV, it very much is. Which is unfortunate because good pudding–the kind of pudding you make at home with whole milk, sugar, corn starch, and any flavor combination you want–can be a cozier and more comforting dessert than those fancier, European concoctions.
My favorite pudding recipe comes from Simply Recipes; it’s Elise’s recipe for chocolate pudding. I make it all the time.
But last week I found myself with an extra vanilla bean (the first was used for that toasted coconut ice cream a few weeks ago). I decided to make a vanilla bean pudding and I found just the recipe I needed on Smitten Kitchen.
Only: the technique there required a few more steps and a few more bowls than I’m used to, so I decided to make things a little easier for myself by applying Elise’s technique to Deb’s recipe.
So follow along:
In a pot, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and seeds from a vanilla bean (Deb says 1/2 a vanilla bean but I used a whole one).
As you can see, the vanilla bean seeds stay in clumps so it helps to use your fingers to pinch them into the other dry ingredients. When everything’s pretty well combined whisk in 2 2/3 cups whole milk:
Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Meanwhile, crack an egg into a large bowl.
When the milk mixture comes to a simmer, whisk CONSTANTLY and keep going until the mixture has thickened significantly. When it’s nice and thick–you should be able to draw a line in it with your whisk–take the pot off the heat. Whisk the egg in its bowl and then very gradually and very carefully add some of the hot pudding mixture; whisk that intensely to temper the egg (you don’t want it to scramble) then add the egg mixture back to the pot with the pudding and whisk it all together. If you want extra vanilla flavor (I did) you can add a splash of vanilla extract here too.
Pour your vanilla bean pudding into ramekins or coffee mugs:
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Maybe it didn’t go to a good college like panna cotta or marry a doctor like pot de crem, but this vanilla bean pudding–with its visible black specks and pure vanilla flavor–has a heart of gold and it’s tops in my book.