Thursday, January 24, 2008

I'm Pudding You On

Words have unexpected power.

Take the word "pudding." For some reason, late last week I got the notion to make homemade pudding, something I haven't done for a while, and I then had the urge to learn about all different kinds of pudding (bread pudding, Indian pudding, hasty pudding, plum pudding, and so on).

When She Who Cannot Be Labeled came into my office last Friday morning, naturally I began to tell her my grand pudding plans. And at the lone word "pudding," this feisty, fiercely intelligent, punk-goth-looking wisp of a tough chick... giggled.

I couldn't believe it. The young woman who declared she likes her coffee "as black as my soul" (or at least her fingernails) sat there across the desk from me and giggled with such delight that her face turned red and she nearly collapsed on the floor in hysterics.

Okay, I grant you, "pudding" is a silly word, and given that it most likely originates from the French boudin, meaning sausage and nothing like the custardy stuff I love, it really is rather laughable.

But say what you will -– and I will now say "pudding" as much as possible when I see her at work –- there's something wonderful about a word that turns almost anyone into a little kid, giggling with delight.

When I myself was a wee lass, my favorite puddings were tapioca (from scratch; is there any other way?) and butterscotch. The latter, I must confess, generally came from a petite box -– yes, a mix. And I loved it.

A boxed mix won't cut it for me now, of course, so I looked high and low for a recipe for a wholesome homemade butterscotch pudding.

Turns out a butterscotch pudding is the same as a vanilla pudding, save that you use dark brown sugar instead of regular granulated sugar. And I just happened to discover that the local co-op now carries an organic, fair-trade dark brown sugar! Ah, sweet serendipity!

With the right sugar in hand, I mixed some with cornstarch and salt before whisking in local milk and a local egg and heating it all up until it reached the desired point of thickness. And with a little butter and vanilla, and a spell in the refrigerator, I ended up with two dishes of smooth, creamy, delectable butterscotch pudding with a wonderfully comforting molasses finish.

I only made half a recipe, and those two dishes only lasted for two nights. So tonight I decided to revisit the recipe with a twist: instead of the dark brown sugar, I used local maple sugar, and I replaced the vanilla with local maple syrup.

The flavor isn't as strong as the butterscotch (which itself is not as pronounced as in the mix), but that burnt-sugar taste of the maple stood out beautifully against the creamy pudding backdrop. Another winner!

Somehow, cooking the pudding didn't take nearly as long as I had remembered (even with the "instant" mix), so I have a feeling I may end up making pudding more often, both for myself and for the occasional guest.

And really, I'm not pudding you on.


At 1/26/2008 8:26 PM, Blogger Kathryn and Ari said...

Great blog! I've taken a vow of locally-grown, home-produced food consumption. I fold sometimes, like when I make Moosewood's very wonderful chocolate pudding. Thank goodness for fair-trade cocoa!

At 1/27/2008 12:07 AM, Blogger Bri said...

Okay Jennifer, now I'm totally intrigued. You'll have to give some proportions and tips on the butterscotch pudding. I would love to make it, and I think it would go over big with the hubs. Any sense for whether it could be made eggless, got this same issue with 1/2 the household not eating eggs. Maybe I'll do a little research on it.

BTW, I know what bread I'm going to make tomorrow. Chubble (cheddar bubble) with all kinds of herbs smoked cheddar and good stuff. I found the recipe from another blogger called Mrs.Marv a few weeks ago, and I think it will be a good foray. Heck, can't go wrong with all that good stuff in it, right? I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for the pudding inspiration. I've been eying a coconut milk chocolate pudding recipe I may have to try. much great inspiration!

At 1/28/2008 7:13 AM, Blogger Kelly said...

I haven't had butterscotch pudding since I was a little kid! Of course, it was box mix with cool whip on top. Blech.

I've made vanilla and chocolate puddings with great success. There's just no comparing. I'd like to try to come up with a recipe using a bit of cardamom and blueberries -- which is the créme brulee I had recently. SO GOOD.

At 1/28/2008 7:24 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Kathryn and Ari, there's still room in eating locally for luxury goods like chocolate. Fair-trade, especially! I don't eat it as much or cook as much with it as I used to, but I'm not ready to give it up yet.

Bri, I'd have to find the recipe at home. I found it online, and it's pretty basic... you could probably find a basic vanilla pudding recipe in an old Betty Crocker cookbook or something. I know there are vegan puddings that use silken tofu, but I'm not quite sure how you'd make pudding with milk but not the eggs. Any suggestions, readers?

Kelly, once I get around to posting about Saturday's dinner, you'll get to see the really rich and decadent dark chocolate pots de crème I made... so good! I definitely like the idea of cardamom and blueberries together... maybe ginger, too? Were the blueberries blended into the crème brulée or just folded in whole? Am wondering because I was pondering something similar earlier this week...


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