Have the four or five ingredients you need to make a jello-style dessert pudding from scratch.
Do, and you can come up with way more interesting flavors all your own.
I love pudding. Here in the United States, that historically loaded word generally refers to chilled, sweetened and flavored milk thickened with cornstarch. For a single portion of vanilla, I like a tablespoon plus a teaspoon cornstarch and two tablespoons granulated sugar. That's a little less sweet than the prepackaged stuff — you could do three tablespoons sugar if you want. All of that into a cup of milk, 237mL. You could use a milk substitute or pretty much any watery liquid. And then I would do a tiny pinch of salt plus the vanilla or whatever other flavoring you're using.
I'm making two portions, so I need a little less than three tablespoons cornstarch, then four tablespoons of sugar, which is a quarter cup. Then a pinch of salt, purely for flavor. And if you mix your starch and your sugar thoroughly, you will not have to make a starch slurry. The starch particles will be dispersed through the sugar and that will stop them from clumping up together when they hit the milk. Two cups of milk. I suppose the metric folks could round that up to half a liter. Pudding is not an exact science. In the pot.
You could use a splash of vanilla extract, but one of the fun things about ditching the pre-boxed pudding is you can fancy it up a little bit, perhaps with a real vanilla pod. Slice it in half, then scrape out the pulp inside and drop it in the pot. Grab a whisk, or a fork would be ok, and just whisk as you pour in the dry ingredients. I'm doing this slowly out of an abundance of caution. Really, the risk of lumps forming is very low if you have thoroughly stirred your sugar and starch beforehand. Turn the heat on and just whisk as you bring this to a boil, which on my stove should just take two or three minutes. Boxed Jello pudding is one of the first things I ever cooked in my life. And hen I was a little kid, I was fascinated to watch that moment when the starch gets hot enough to gelatinize.
And almost instantly it goes from looking like milk to looking like pudding. Loose pudding. It'll thicken a more as it cools, so when it looks like that, you're finished. Heat off. You could call that done if you want. I do like to melt in just a little fat at this stage, like a sliver of butter. This tastes really nice, and it slightly softens the texture of the chilled dessert. The powder from the Jello box contains some more exotic ingredients, like sodium phosphate and diglycerides, that make the pudding a little lighter and softer on the tongue.
Stirring in a little fat at the end doesn't lighten the pudding but it does soften up the starch matrix a bit, which makes it taste a little less like a solid pie filling. After the pudding stops steaming, you might want to cover it to keep it from forming a skin on top. But the pudding skin is my favorite part, so nah.
Two portions in the fridge. Chill for a few hours until solid and you've got a cup of childhood, right there. Actually that's surprisingly adult, with the little vanilla seeds in there. Once you find the precise starch-to-liquid ratio you like, you can apply the same formula to any watery liquid, not just milk.
Again, I've got two tablespoons of sugar per one-cup portion and a tablespoon plus a teaspoon starch and a pinch of salt. And this time let's make it with coffee, from Trade Coffee, sponsor of this video. Can't wait to see what they've found for me this time among all of the independent roasters with whom Trade partners. Hah, Drink Coffee Do Stuff — I've heard of them. They're up in the mountains around Lake Tahoe. They say that roasting at high altitude gets them a different kind of caramelization. Resolve this year to drink fresher, more interesting coffee that Trade finds for you based on your preferences and ships right to your door as often as you want. Trade is a subscription service that makes it easy and convenient to find new coffees.
Hey, let's brew this with simmering milk instead of water. This would be a great way of making cafe au lait, not just pudding. Brew it on the weak side if you want the pudding to taste more like a conventional dessert, but I want it to taste like a semi-solid cup of strong coffee. Whisk in the starch and sugar, heat until thick and there we are. Have a better year by upgrading your morning routine with better coffee. Right now, Trade is offering you a free bag of coffee with any subscription at drinktrade.com/ragusea. That’s drinktrade.com/ragusea for a free bag of coffee with any subscription purchase. Drinktrade.com/ragusea.
Thank you, Trade. Chill that one and look, it's way too thick. I forgot to account for all the milk that would be absorbed by the coffee grinds and then left behind. Still tastes awesome. Now, when you make chocolate pudding, you have to reduce the amount of starch you use. I'm just using a tablespoon per portion. Maybe a heaped tablespoon. Same amount of sugar — two tablespoons per portion.
And then two tablespoons of cocoa powder per portion. Don't forget that pinch of salt. The cocoa powder itself thickens the pudding a bit — not so much when it's hot, but when it's cold. You gotta reduce the starch by like 20% to compensate. Whisk that into a cup of a milk per portion.
Minute to hydrate, so you'll have to stir this a little more to integrate, but it doesn't matter because i stir this continuously anyway as it comes up to a boil.
Of heat escapes up the sides of the pot and so the sides get too hot and can burn the pudding if you're not constantly scraping everything down.
If you want to be really cautious, do this over a double boiler — a heat-safe bowl over a pot of boiling water.
As soon as I see it thicken up, I'm done. Heat off. For last-minute fat, you could melt in a square of solid chocolate per portion. That's really nice. Chill. I love that weird pudding skin, but again, if you don't want it, just cover the pudding after it stops steaming. Much more chocolatey and luxurious than the stuff from the box. Awesome.
But now let's get more creative with our flavors. For two portions of pudding I've got one pound, 454g of strawberries. These are winter strawberries, so they're terrible, but it doesn't matter. I'm gonna cook them with sugar. I'm just cutting off the tops and then paring them. Give the berries just a little water to get them cooking. Pretty soon they'll start releasing their own water. While we wait, we can mix the dry ingredients.
Two tablespoons of sugar per portion as before. And as with the chocolate pudding, only one tablespoon of starch per portion. The pectin in the strawberries will thicken the pudding somewhat, so we have to account for that. Don't forget the little pinch of salt. It really punches up the flavor. Boil until the berries themselves seem ready to fall apart. Throw a sieve over a heat-safe bowl, carefully drop in the strawberries with their liquid and use a wooden spoon to grind down the solids — push everything through the sieve until all you have left are some plant fibers. Discard those.
And you should have a little less than two cups strawberry juice. I will top it off with just a little milk to get me to two cups. A little milk will make the color prettier — closer toward purple — and it will neutralize the acidity of winter strawberries a bit. The milk will curdle, which is why I will strain this again on its way back into the pot. You could leave those bits of milk protein in there if you want — they only look bad. Whisk in our sugar and starch, bring to a boil and look how luscious that is. Smells great too. Chill and because we have pectin from real strawberries, the texture of that is somewhere between a pudding and a jelly.
Really nice and far more sophisticated than the kids' dessert we generally imagine pudding to be here in my part of the world. Globally, pudding means all kinds of crazy things, from dessert to blood sausage. Somebody should really look into why that is the case ..