While warm days may be the time for ice cream, cooler weeks are ideal for cozying up with dessert comfort foods like pudding.
Although it’s easy to pull an instant packet of pudding mix off the shelf and have a uniform, albeit chemical-laden, bowl of pudding a few minutes later, homemade pudding from scratch is infinitely more delicious, more creamy, and definitely better for you. It only takes a few minutes longer to make homemade pudding and it is well-worth the effort in flavor and nutrition.
Puddings are simple but delicious things. All you need is a liquid, a binder, a sweetener, and a flavoring. That’s it!
Puddings are also great desserts for those with special dietary requirements because it is so easy to substitute ingredients to suit any food needs you may have. Need gluten-free? No problem! Just thicken the pudding with corn starch, chia seeds, or eggs. Can’t have dairy? No worries! Whip up puddings made with luscious coconut cream, almond milk, or cashew cream instead. And if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, simply substitute with healthy real maple syrup, stevia, or even mashed up banana or pureed fruit.
Make it Special
Once you’ve chosen the type of ingredients that best suit your health, the sky’s the limit for delicious flavor combinations.
Take your basic chocolate pudding. For something a little more adult, stir in a few tablespoons of strong coffee and a bit of rum. If the kids are starving after school, top their chocolate pudding with sliced bananas, toasted nuts, or ripe strawberries. Or play with flavored extracts and try Chocolate Orange, Chocolate Mint, or Chocolate Coconut.
Puddings are easy to turn into more elaborate desserts. Make a quick and easy trifle by layering pound cake sprinkled with kirsch or other fruity liqueur with big dollops of creamy pudding and fresh fruit. Top with whipped cream and you’re all set. Make easy cream pies by filling a pre-made pie shell with Coconut Pudding, Banana Pudding, or Chocolate Pudding.
If you don’t fancy smooth puddings, try making tapioca or sago. Although you do need to soak the pearls ahead of time, the rest of the pudding-making process is almost identical to usual puddings. Give your tapioca a tropical flair by making it with coconut cream, sweetening it with mango puree, and topping it with slices of fresh mango. Or turn it into a simple but delicious dessert for a dinner party by serving it in tall glasses topped with boozy cherries that have been soaked in rum or vodka with a bit of sugar.
Whether you’re sick and in need of comfort or just want something easy to serve your dinner guests, puddings are a great option.
Warm Mocha Pudding
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup instant coffee powder
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk (or coconut milk, almond milk, etc)
- 1/3 cup butter or solid coconut oil, in pieces
- 2 teaspoon vanilla or rum extract
1. In a thick-bottomed saucepan whisk together sugar, cocoa powder, coffee powder, cornstarch and sea salt.
2. Add milk and stir briskly until smooth.
3. Cook over medium high heat, stirring regularly in the beginning and constantly when mixture begins to thicken. As soon as it starts to boil, stir briskly to prevent burning and boil for 1 minute.
4. Remove from heat and stir in butter and flavoring until smooth.
5. Pour into bowl or ramekins and cover pudding directly with plastic until ready to serve (about 10 minutes).
6. Serve warm or chill until ready to serve.
Butterscotch Pudding with Sea Salt
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoon corn starch
- 2 cups milk/coconut milk/almond milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2-1/2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- sea salt for garnish
1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan whisk together brown sugar, sea salt, and cornstarch.
2. In small bowl whisk together milk and eggs then pour into saucepan with other ingredients, whisking until smooth.
3. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
4. Boil for one minute.
5. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
6. Pour into bowls or ramekins and cover surface directly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
7. Just before serving sprinkle each bowl with a pinch of sea salt.
Coconut Tapioca with Mango
- 2 cups coconut milk, well-shaken
- 3/4 cup mango juice water (drain one can of mango pieces and use the liquid, save mango to top tapioca)
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup tapioca pearls
- 2 tablespoon real maple syrup
1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan combine coconut milk, mango juice water, water, and tapioca pearls. Stir and let sit for one hour.
2. Place over medium high heat and bring to boil, stirring every 30-60 seconds.
3. Reduce to simmer and cook about 15 minutes until tapioca is translucent.
4. Remove from heat and stir in real maple syrup.
5. Divide among 4 small dishes and cover with plastic wrap. Chill until ready to serve.
6. When ready to serve, remove plastic wrap and top with drained mango pieces.
All photos are courtesy of the author.