Vanilla bean pudding is a classic, beloved dessert you can whip up with just a few simple ingredients.
In the past four months, I think I’ve made as many layer cakes. Only one batch of macarons has left my oven, and my cookie cutters are untouched in their storage tower. Let’s not even talk about the ridiculous number of recipes tested, photographed, and waiting in my queue for editing and posting. There’s over 30. Thirty. There just hasn’t been time, darlings.
Part of me wants to stress about this, but the other part of me – the more rational me – is okay. Time will come. Right now I am in a new season in life, soaking up the beautiful chaos that is having *two* very small little ones. So there’s less work, more play dates, and the occasional “board game and coffee” break with my preschooler. And finding joy in little moments comes so naturally to the little humans, which helps me remember how to celebrate them, and in turn inspires me to return to basics. Instead of trying to make something over the top, we turn back the clock to celebrate the simple and classic. We make vanilla bean pudding.
Homemade vanilla pudding is about as classic as you can get when it comes to dessert. The flavor is universally enjoyed, and pudding is made in minutes with minimal ingredients. There is required chill time, but the actual cooking portion is pretty quick. I used to make pudding from a box with my mom, but making pudding from scratch is just about as quick.
I fancied up my version with vanilla beans, but you can use paste or extract. Thanks to a bad harvest 2 years running, and a bad storm in Northern Madagascar which wiped out most of the farms, affordable vanilla beans are becoming harder to source. Use what you have.
In a quick aside to our pudding chat, I’d like to take a moment to talk about sustainability. You’ll notice that I bring it up from time to time on the blog. It’s important to understand the impact of our food choices. In our home, we try to eat seasonally and locally because not only is it good for our health, but it’s better for the planet and our budget. When something like a natural disaster happens, there is a direct impact in our food supply – especially for foods like vanilla beans which are primarily grown in a single region. Real food isn’t made in a factory, and it’s always good to be mindful of this when making our choices.
We enjoyed this vanilla bean pudding alone or with a bit of fruit. It would also be a lovely layer for a parfait. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time to whip up a little more to enjoy with fresh summer berries!
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 cups milk
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 vanilla beans, scraped, 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or 2 tsp extract
- Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
- Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, vanilla beans (see notes), and salt in a medium saucepan, and then slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup of the milk while whisking constantly. When the mixture is smooth, whisk in the egg yolks and remaining milk.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook for 4-5 minutes until the pudding starts to thicken, whisking frequently to ensure even heat distribution.
- When the mixture starts to bubble slightly, lower the heat to medium-low and start stirring with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Stir constantly for 4-5 minutes until the pudding has thickened enough to form ribbons when a bit is drizzled over the surface. Don't forget to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan while you stir!
- Once you get the ribbons, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter, whisking constantly until the butter has melted and fully incorporated into the pudding. Don't worry if the pudding looks a little liquid at this point, it thickens as it cools.
- Pour the pudding through the strainer to remove any lumps, then transfer to a large bowl or individual serving containers.
- Cover the pudding with plastic wrap or parchment paper, pressing the wrap along the entire surface of the pudding to prevent skin from forming. Chill for at least 2 hours until set. Enjoy!
- Pudding can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- If you are using vanilla beans, put both the caviar and the scraped pods into the mixture. The pods will boost the vanilla flavor. I remove them, wiping it clean with a spoon, after cooking. If I'm chilling the pudding in a large bowl before transferring it to smaller bowls. I leave the pods in there until I divide out the pudding. You may add vanilla bean paste at the beginning of the cook time too. For maximum flavor when using vanilla extract, don't add it until the end. Since vanilla extract is alcohol-based, a bit will burn off during cooking. It's not that big of a deal, and the pudding still tastes amazing, but if you want to maximize the vanilla flavor, add it at the end with the butter.
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