Dessert time is a sacred time in my house. I’m sure a lot of parents can relate. I wake up way too early, work all day long, come home and cook dinner, and spend a couple hours entertaining Andrew before he goes to bed. Once he is tucked in and the tornado of toys is cleaned up, dessert time is the time for me to finally sit on the couch and exhale. It’s me time. For some reason, individual spoon desserts like pudding seem even more indulgent than my usual cookie or brownie, and consequently make dessert time seem even more special. This pudding is extremely rich – and this is coming from the girl who almost never knows the meaning of that phrase. I divided this into the recommended number of servings (six) but I was only able to eat half a serving at a time. I think the whipped cream is essential for serving because it provides as a nice light counterbalance to the thick, rich pudding. This is nothing like the overly sweet puddings you can buy at the store. This is the good stuff.
- Yield 6-8 servings
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. cornstarch
3 cups milk, divided
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
Pinch of coarse salt
¼ cup water
1¼ cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Whipped cream, for serving
In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch and ½ cup of the milk until well blended; set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining milk, butter and salt and heat, stirring frequently, until the butter is melted. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
In a large saucepan, combine the water and sugar, stirring to moisten the sugar. Place over high heat and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Stop stirring and let the sugar mixture cook, occasionally swirling the mixture by moving the saucepan with a gentle swirling motion, until the sugar is a deep golden brown caramel. (Test a drop at a time on a white plate if you are unsure of the color in the saucepan.) The mixture will have a toasty scent.
Reduce the heat to low. Gradually and very carefully add the warm milk mixture into the caramel, whisking constantly. The mixture will bubble furiously. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and the caramel is completely dissolved. Gradually whisk the hot caramel into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan, set over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Whisk in the vanilla until smooth.
Divide the pudding between individual serving dishes and cover with a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the pudding. Pierce the plastic with a knife a few times to allow heat to escape. Let cool until just warm, then refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours. Remove the plastic wrap and top with freshly whipped cream before serving, if desired.