When you’re in the mood for a little something sweet, this recipe from Smitten Kitchen is the perfect go-to. Quickly and quite handily made with with pantry staples it’s something of a stunner in taste, and another great example of kitchen alchemy… where the end product is much greater than the sum of its parts.
Even though I had to make substitutions based on my pantry – on a day that was much too hot to venture outside – I am very pleased with how it turned out. Smooth, creamy and full of taste, it’s as good or better than any pudding I’ve ever made.
I didn’t have whole milk and while I did have heavy cream and could’ve used some of that, I went with only 2% milk, which I have used with success in other puddings. While the recipe asked for dark brown sugar, I used golden brown sugar.
The step of adding the cornstarch straight into the hot butter and sugar had me raise an eyebrow, but I considered where the recipe came from and plunged ahead. Other than when dusting food for frying or stir frying, cornstarch is usually dissolved first not only in liquid… but in cold liquid and then added to the pot. I’m not even sure how this worked… but I can confirm rather than developing nasty lumps, it was perfectly smooth. Perfectly.
I wanted to top this half recipe of pudding with toasted pecans. Again I had to substitute, so I made sweet ‘croutons’ with some gluten free chocolate mocha cake stashed in the freezer, adding visual interest as well as texture.
- 2 TBSP unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- Several pinches of sea salt (I use a scant 1/2 teaspoon of flaky Maldon salt)
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 3 cups whole milk (or 2%, or use some heavy cream for a really rich pudding)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add the brown sugar and reduce heat to medium-low, then let it bubble for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently; don’t let it smoke or burn, which brown sugar is always very eager to do. Reduce heat to low.
- Add salt and cornstarch, stirring until combined — it’s going to look like a thick paste.
- Switch to a whisk and add the milk in a thin drizzle, whisking the whole time, so that no lumps form. Once all of the milk is added, you can switch back to a spoon.
- Cook over low to medium-low, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a gentle simmer; this could take 8 - 10 minutes, depending on your pan, heat level, etc.
- Let it simmer for a full minute, stirring, it should clearly thicken at this stage, although it will finish thickening in the fridge. Off the heat, stir in the vanilla extract.
- Divide into glasses or pudding cups and let chill in fridge for 1 to 2 hours, until set.
- A half recipe will easily make 4 cute little portions. If want a larger size portion or are feeding 6 - 8 people, do the full recipe.