Out of the Box

Out of the Box

 Lately I’ve found myself craving homemade chocolate pudding.

When you’re growing up, most of the time your view of your family and what you do is comfortable and normal.  Your routines, customs, and traditions are yours, and you tend to not question them too much. 

It’s a running joke between my sister-in-law and me that when I make something, she will comment with something along the lines of “You know you can get that in a box” or “You know that you can find that at the store in the freezer section already made and everything”.  Yeah, I know.  And it wasn’t until I got out in the “real” world and then married that I realized how unique my family’s kitchen habits were. 

When I was growing up, we had homemade pudding for dessert on occasion.  It was a treat!  Chocolate pudding.  Looking back, most desserts we had were chocolate.  I think that must be because both my mom and my dad love(d) chocolate (how ironic that one of my sisters doesn’t). 

Yesterday one of my sisters-in-law (not the aforementioned one) came to visit.  She joked before her visit and asked if I would make her something special.  So, we had baked ziti from America’s Test Kitchen (it was good, but I’m wondering if I can find or come up with a version that’s a little more normal-people, weeknight friendly, though they have a 30-minute skillet version that’s good, too.  Their oven version is free on their website: http://www.americastestkitchen.com/recipes/detail.php?docid=18759&extcode=M**ASCA00) and I decided that a special meal could be a good excuse for making homemade pudding.

It’s always fun when you bring something out and people ask, “What is it?”  And then you watch as they eat it.  They think it’s good, but it’s not what they’re used to.  And isn’t that true?  I’ve discovered that people who grew up with boxed brownies and pudding and cake prefer those flavors, those tastes while those who grew up with the homemade versions prefer those flavors and those tastes. 

I knew I was going to share a post about homemade pudding.  I’ll probably get ribbed a bit from at least my husband for the nature of this post, but that’s the risk I take, I guess.  Below is the recipe my family used.  It’s a basic recipe from Betty Crocker or some cookbook like that.  When you make it, here’s a heads-up: 

  1. Homemade pudding is thicker. 
  2. You may find an occasional lump of cornstarch when you’re eating it, but that’s okay.  Then you know it’s homemade.  🙂  But the rule is, if you find a lump and say something, you have to do all the dishes. 
  3. When you pour it in the cups or bowls, as it cools it forms a skin on top. 
  4. Yes, it takes longer to make than the stuff in a box (we’re talking 15 -maybe 20- minutes here).  But because you cook it, it’s a bit easier to customize, to make it even richer if you want or to add a different flavor to the mix.  

No, I won’t make it often.  And yes, I’m sure I’ll make the stuff from a box on occasion.  But I do know that homemade pudding is good, it’s thick, it’s delicious, and I’m glad it’s part of my background.

Homemade Vanilla Pudding

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Blend sugar, cornstarch, and salt in 2-quart saucepan.  Combine milk and egg yolks; gradually stir into sugar mixture.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla.  Pour into dessert dishes.  Cool slightly and chill.  Makes 4 servings.

Butterscotch variation:  Substitute 2/3 cup brown sugar (packed) for granulated sugar and decrease vanilla to 1 tsp.

Chocolate variation:  Increase sugar to 1/2 cup and stir 2 squares chocolate, 1/4 cup chocolate chips, or 1/2 cup cocoa into cornstarch mixture.  Omit butter.

For a double chocolate variation:   add 2 squares chocolate or 1/2 cup chocolate chips with 1/2 cup cocoa.  Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips for garnish immediately after pouring in dishes.


6 responses »

  1. Funny! I had some old milk in the fridge and told Jeff if it didn’t smell bad I could make pudding with it since it cooks anyway. Unfortunately, it was more than a little past its prime. It was sounding tasty to me as well! Maybe Dad and I can make it tomorrow night…

    • Betsy,
      Thanks for the idea and recipe. I am totally going to make homemade chocolate pudding. Does the vanilla stay at 2 tsp. for the chocolate variation?

    • To prevent that “skin ” from forming, after pouring pudding into dishes or a bowl, simply sprinkle very lightly a wee bit of granulated sugar across the surface!

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