Jan 11, 2010

Brown Sugar Vanilla Pudding

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You know what’s less fun than taking care of a sick baby? Oh, wait, that’s right. THERE IS NOTHING LESS FUN THAN TAKING CARE OF A SICK BABY. I-yi-yi. Little C got a case of something nasty a while back (just a bad cold, thank God, a small bright spot of the whole ordeal in our H1N1-fearing times), and the frustration and exhaustion was akin to the early weeks of motherhood. And by that I mean the time period during which half of my waking moments were spent devising a plan to crawl unnoticed into a dark closet with a bottle of Wild Turkey so I could sob and question why I decided to become a parent in peace.

Yeah, taking care of a sick kid is no fun, indeed. Night wakings. Crying, whining, crying, whining (from mother and child). Child vibrating with overtired energy, screaming and struggling violently with pudgy limbs against a mother wielding the thermometer/Tylenol/Kleenex/nose suction thing–roughly one hundred times per day. Child sobbing and desperately wanting something she can’t express, mother frantically trying to guess what that thing might be just to make something better for at least five flipping minutes so I don’t lose my ever-loving mind. Repeat.

 


And on top of all of that drama comes the not eating. Naturally, when we’re sick, we don’t feel much like eating, but to a worried mother of a sick baby, this logic goes out the window. I was convinced my daughter was going to wither away and die from starvation if this vicious, exotic illness didn’t take her first. So I inanely pushed food in my child’s poor, snuffly, puffy face every chance I got, driving my own stress levels higher as the child refused all of my lame attempts. So much untouched food went into the trash in our home during those few days, I started looking over my shoulder for Sally Struthers to come read me the riot act.

 


In the interest of getting some calories in my poor babe, any at all, really, I gave up on forcing the “right foods” and just went for what I hoped would be a Sure Thing: a silky, homemade vanilla pudding with lots of comforting milk and eggs and an all-ages-palate-pleasing dose of brown sugar.


Like peace and quiet and the general wellness of my family, I’m kind of obsessed with homemade puddings of all sorts. They’re just so delightfully real–the most basic ingredients, so simple, everything coming together with little fanfare, right on the stovetop with a wooden spoon. It just feels right. If there’s a chicken soup of desserts, a sweet tooth’s tonic to cure all ailments, homemade vanilla pudding has to be it. I would bet my Mommy Card on this claim.

So sure was I of the magical powers of this pudding, I was going to send this child back from whence she came if this tactic didn’t work. But lo, it did. In fact, it was all she ate for two days straight. And if we’re being honest here, it made up the bulk of my diet, too. Not a bad way to ease the suffering, for all parties involved. And even if you find yourself in gloriously good health this winter, there’s really nothing like hunkering down with a cozy bowl of homemade pudding, maybe slightly warmed, or just straight from the fridge with a serving spoon.



Brown Sugar Vanilla Pudding

Using brown sugar in this recipe gives a really lovely caramel note and a great depth of flavor to the dish. But if you prefer a more straightforward vanilla pudding, just use all regular granulated sugar. You can also jazz up this recipe even more by scraping half a vanilla bean into the pot, and dropping the scraped pod into the mix as well.

Makes about 2 cups

3 tablespoons lightly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt)
2 cups whole milk
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisking constantly, add about a third of the milk to the pan until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the egg yolks, and then whisk in the rest of the milk.

Set the pan over medium heat and cook the pudding, whisking often, until is is thickened and just begins to bubble, about 6 to 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and switch to a rubber or silicone spatula to stir the pudding constantly for another 5 minutes or so, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan as you go. When you can run a track through the pudding on the back of the spatula with your fingertip and the track remains, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the butter and the vanilla.

Set a sieve over a large bowl and strain the pudding to catch any wayward lumps of cooked egg yolk or cornstarch, using the spatula to encourage the pudding through the sieve. Lightly press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until the pudding is completely chilled and set, at least 2 hours.

9 Comments

  • I can't wait to try this! It looks wonderful and I really enjoyed your photographs! I love pudding and you are right..it is one of the original comfort foods!!

  • That looks amazing, and no, there is nothing worse. Hope your little one feels better.

    btw – I made your cookie brittle and damn you I ate almost the entire pan BY MYSELF. so good and dangerous!

  • Awww, I feel your pain! And I'm glad that your little one is feeling better. When my daughter was too young to communicate, I did the same thing and gave what I could. And at time, I'd dream of hiding out in the laundry room with a case of wine. Luckily, the sick child starts to feel better just as you're about to go into hiding. They have perfect timing.

  • Mmmm! There's nothing better than homemade pudding. Will definitely have to try this. (And I'm with you on the sick child thing – whine, whine, whine until you think you're going to go crazy!)

  • so glad to hear the puddin' worked wonders for you little puddin'. from the looks of it, it would make anyone feel better! hope your little one gets fully better soon.

  • Girl I know exactly how you feel! We had a sick little one over the weekend and ended up in the ER last night but it's from allergies. I'm trying to figure out what the heck my baby girl can actually eat!

    I coulda used a little pudding last night! :)

  • Just wanted to let you know I just made this and it's fantastic! Thanks for a great recipe!

  • Rachel–Fabulous! I am so glad to hear it. Hope you made it for pleasure and not out of desperation like I did.

  • I happened upon your blog for the first time today, and spent the better part of an hour happily looking through your archives. The list of recipes I flagged "must make this" is daunting, so I figured I should get cracking. I made this pudding tonight: oh, my. Truly. I can't wait to surprise my husband and daughter with this for dessert tomorrow evening. Or breakfast? Is pudding a breakfast food? Thank you.

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