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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vanilla Pudding Experiment

I was  determined to make a yummy batch of vanilla pudding.

It took me over a week to accomplish.

Three batches of pudding AND chocolate meringues later, I have a favorite recipe! And I am officially sick to death of chocolate meringues. No more egg whites please. For a very VERY long time!

My recipe got progressively healthier as I went along, and I definitely think the last tasted better than the first, so hurray for spring and knowing that I can't hide under big sweaters forever!

The Winning Recipe:

You'll want to gather your ingredients together before heating up the stove. Here's my method:
  1. Separate two eggs. Keep the yolks in one bowl and save the whites for a batch of meringues later (if you aren't sick of them yet).
  2. Whisk a little bit of the milk into the yolks-- only a little at a time to make sure there are no chunks of yolk left
  3. In a small saucepan, sift together the sugar, corn starch, and salt. If you're like me and don't have a sifter, just whisk it all together for a minute. But don't use the whisk that's covered in egg yolk. Use a dry one.
  4. Add about 1/4 cup of the egg/milk mixture to the pot, and mix it really well. Keep slowly adding the liquid to the pot, mixing well between each addition. This helps prevent lumps.
  5. Set four small bowls, a trivet, a spatula, vanilla extract and a measuring spoon on the counter nearest to the stove, like so:
  6. Set the pot on a small burner and turn it on to medium heat. Stir CONSTANTLY. It doesn't have to be fast, but keep it constant or all of the thickening will only happen on the bottom of the pot. Then it will burn. That would not be an exciting experience.  
  7. After a little while, you'll see it thicken, and then it will start to boil with big gloppy bubbles. When you see the first bubble, reduce the heat to low and keep stirring (maybe up the pace a little) for one minute.
  8. Then turn off the burner, run over to your trivet, and stir in the vanilla. You really don't have to be rushed when you do this, but I'm used to chocolate cream pie, and in that case it IS a rush to get the chocolate melted. Please be calm and collected when you make pudding.
  9. Once the vanilla is mixed in, go ahead and use the spatula to help the pudding into the bowls.
  10. If you're the type to want to cover them and avoid a skin forming (I'm usually not), use little strips of plastic wrap to cover the bowls (the plastic should touch the pudding) before you put them in the fridge.
  11. Chill for about 2 hours. 

The Process:
For those who are interested in the journey toward my favorite recipe...
My Opinion: I mistakenly put only 1 tbsp cornstarch when the recipe called for two. It wasn't awful, but it definitely wasn't as thick as I normally like my pudding. Secondly, the vanilla extract leaves a really weird it even a taste? It's almost like a stinging in the back of the throat. I'm going to cut it back just a little bit next time. Third, I'm not comfortable with that amount of butter. I can't believe I'm saying this, but it didn't appear to add anything to the texture of the pudding, and I don't ALWAYS want desserts that make me feel guilty. I'll try it with half the amount of butter next time (and skim milk) and see if it really seems like it's lacking anything. My guess is that I'll like it just as much.
My Opinion: This round had PERFECT flavor, but was pretty rubbery (ok, VERY rubbery, and ever more so the longer it sat in the fridge uncovered). I'm guessing that's a result of reducing the butter. I probably should have added an extra tbsp of milk to make up for it (though it still wouldn't have had the same texture as fat, obviously). Since this batch was SO thick (from the extra corn starch) I'm thinking about doing a batch with zero butter and a full 1 1/2 cups skim milk. 

The Conclusion: As you already know, trial #3 was the winner. Here's the nutritional comparison, taken from

1 comment:

  1. ooo very interesting, i like seeing the process. you are your own test kitchen!