Sometimes all we need is a bowl of creamy smooth Vanilla Pudding.
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
your can eat it hot, at room temperature, or even cold. It looks so enticing when served in pretty bowls with a dollop of softly whipped cream and
maybe a sprinkling of toasted and
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 (corn flour). 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
rubber spatula or wooden spoon. When stirring it is important to reach the bottom, sides
and corners of the saucepan to prevent the pudding from sticking and
scorching. Once the pudding has become thick, like mayonnaise, remove it
from the heat and add the butter and vanilla extract. Then strain the
pudding to get rid of any lumps that may have formed. 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. So, if possible, use
"organic" milk and eggs from vegetarian fed hens. And since vanilla is
the prominent flavor in this vanilla pudding it is important to use a good vanilla
extract. The first thing to do is to make sure that it is labeled "pure".
Stay away from the ones labeled "imitation"
vanilla extracts as they are made with synthetic vanilla (from glycoside found
in the sapwood of certain conifers or from coal extracts) and leave a bitter
aftertaste. Also, products labeled 'Vanilla Flavoring' are a combination of pure
vanilla extract and imitation vanilla extract and should be avoided. Although
pure vanilla extract is what I normally use to make vanilla pudding, some may
prefer using one whole vanilla bean. This will give the pudding an excellent
vanilla flavor and it will also add those lovely small dark seeds. 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
produce what is called vanilla sugar. Besides using vanilla extract or a vanilla
bean, you can also use a product called vanilla bean paste. This paste contains vanilla seeds so
your pudding will have those lovely little black seeds in it, like you get when
using a vanilla bean, only there is no work involved.
Vanilla Pudding: In a large
stainless steel (or heatproof) bowl whisk together 1/3 cup (65 grams) sugar,
cornstarch, salt, eggs, and egg yolk. Whisk in 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the milk. Set aside while you heat the
rest of the milk and sugar. Have
ready a fine medium-sized strainer and bowl as you will need
to strain the pudding after it is cooked.
First, rinse a
medium-sized heavy saucepan with cold water and then shake out the excess water.
(Doing this step prevents the milk from scorching.) Then pour the remaining 3 cups (720 ml) of milk,
along with the remaining 1/4 cup (50 grams) of sugar,
into the saucepan and bring just to a boil. 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 clean, large heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium-low
heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the
consistency of mayonnaise (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and whisk in
the butter and vanilla extract. 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
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 (177 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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