Thursday, June 3, 2010

Vanilla Pudding with Baked Rhubarb

Oh do I love me some pudding. Whether it be chocolate, rice, tapioca, butterscotch, you name the pudding and I'll be delving my spoon into it. There's just something so comforting and satisfying about a big bowl of pudding. Especially when it's homemade. Don't get me wrong, I'll eat a pudding cup every now and again, but homemade pudding tastes much less artificial, more luscious and decadent.

Which brings me to this pudding recipe, which is definitely more decadent than some of the other pudding recipes out there. The original recipe calls for whole milk, egg yolks, and half a stick of butter. I tweaked it a little bit, using low-fat milk, and half the butter, and still ended up with a very rich and thick pudding. Chock full of flecks of vanilla bean and topped with some sweetly tart baked rhubarb, this pudding gets elevated to a whole nother level of deliciousness.

I used what will probably be the last of the rhubarb this season in my neck of the woods, so I realize that it may not be a topping option for much longer. Which is why I provided several other topping ideas at the end of the recipe. Because I could see foresee using this pudding as a template for so many different flavor combinations. I can also foresee just eating spoonfuls of it plain, standing next to the fridge with the door open, which is what I'm about to go do now.

Another great thing about pudding - it's so easy to make! Just a little stirring and whisking, some tempering, a trip through a sieve, and then chill and you've got pudding! Making it from scratch is so much fun too. I love how the milk combines with the eggs and flour and miraculously seems to thicken right before your eyes. I tell ya, food is magical stuff. So let's make some of this magic - start by whisking together your sugar, flour and salt.
Then add some milk and a whole lot of vanilla bean to a pan. I know 1 1/2 vanilla beans is a lot, but it really makes the vanilla flavor shine through.
Let the milk heat up over medium heat until small bubbles start to form around the edges. Now it's time to whisk it into your sugar and flour mixture. Make sure to pour it in slowly while you whisk, so no clumps form.
The milk/flour mixture gets transferred back into the pan for a few more minutes of cooking time, and then it's time to temper it with the egg yolks. Whisk a small amount of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, and then pour it back into the pan.
Cook the mixture for another five minutes or so, until it thickens and a few slow bubbles start to appear.
Take it off the heat and mix in some butter.
Using a rubber spatula, press the pudding through a fine mesh sieve like so. This will leave any solid bits, and vanilla bean pods behind.
And then you're left with some beautiful, silky smooth pudding.
Now on to the topping! This baked rhubarb was so simple and quick, yet incredibly tasty. I could see using it as a topping for other things as well, like ice cream or pound cake with some lightly whipped cream. I love the tartness of the rhubarb contrasted against the sweetness and richness of the vanilla pudding. It's truly a wonderful combination. And all that this topping requires is some chopped rhubarb, mixed with a little bit of sugar, corn syrup and vanilla,
baked in a buttered dish for about 35 minutes until the rhubarb is soft and sweet and scrumptious.
The rhubarb can be used either warm or cold; I had plenty of leftovers and it was just as delicious the next day served cold.
Vanilla Pudding with Baked Rhubarb
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 1/2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Whisk together sugar, flour, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Pour milk into a medium saucepan; scrape in vanilla seeds, and add the pods. Stir together. Cook over medium heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around edges of pan, about 7 minutes.

Gradually add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer the milk-flour mixture to the saucepan; cook over low heat, whisking constantly, 5 minutes.
Put egg yolks in a small bowl. Whisk in a small amount of the hot milk-flour mixture. Add yolk mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens; about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat.. Add butter; whisk until melted. Pass pudding through a fine sieve into a medium bowl, forcing it through holes with a rubber spatula, so any pods and solid bits stay behind. Cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Let stand at room temperature until slightly cooled, about 30 minutes. Spoon pudding into bowls; pudding can be refrigerated, covered with plastic, up to 1 day.

Baked Rhubarb

1 lb rhubarb, trimmed, cut into small pieces
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter a square baking dish. Toss the rhubarb with the sugar, corn syrup and vanilla. Pour rhubarb into baking dish and bake for approximately 35 minutes, turning the rhubarb over once during baking. Rhubarb can be served either warm or cold.

Other pudding topping ideas:

Lemony Strawberries
Toss together 2 pints hulled, quartered strawberries, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Let stand at room temperature until berries are very juicy, about 1 hour.

Grate 1 ounce white or dark chocolate on the large holes of a box grater. Sprinkle over each serving.

Caramelized Banana
Melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons sugar. Add 1/2-inch-thick slices of banana (from about 1 1/2 bananas). Raise heat to high; cook, without stirring, 3 minutes. Flip slices gently. Reduce heat to medium; cook 3 minutes more.


  1. I've NEVER had rhubarb before, crazily enough. This looks like the best way to give it a try

    (I also don't think I've ever had anything but jello-brand or kozy-shack pudding. I'm sooo missing out)

  2. @KK: You MUST try homemade pudding as soon as possible. It really is amazing. And come to think of it, rhubarb is pretty amazing as well. Two amazing things you're missing out on!!

  3. oh my gosh--i can imagine just how good this is! i may have to make some vanilla pudding to go with that rhubarb compote i have in the fridge!


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