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How can I Make Pudding?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pudding is a type of custard, although it is typically made without eggs, which means that it is much less difficult to cook properly, and will not tend to crack and split as it cools. Although many companies manufacture instant products, pudding is very easy and fun to make at home. All you need is a saucepan, a spatula, and containers to cool it in, such as short glasses or wineglasses for an elegant presentation. The actual cooking process takes only a few minutes, and after at least four hours in the fridge to set, the pudding is ready to eat.

When you make pudding at home, there are a number of flavors to choose from. Vanilla, chocolate, and butterscotch are all common, but you can also experiment with other flavors such as Mexican chocolate, cinnamon, maple, caramel, or fruit. If you are using an extract to flavor the pudding, add it in at the very end of the process. Otherwise, the flavoring goes in at the beginning. If you are making chocolate pudding, melt the chocolate in a heavy saucepan with sugar to taste and 0.25 cup (59 ml) water before adding 2 cups (473 ml) of milk or half and half. For rich vanilla flavor, crush a vanilla bean and heat it slowly in 2 cups (473 ml) cups of milk before adding a thickener.

Once you have combined the flavoring and the milk, add 3 tablespoons (45 grams) of cornstarch made into a runny paste with milk. Heat the pudding mixture slowly on medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula. Stir slowly, and make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan as you stir to prevent it from burning. The mixture will slowly start to thicken, usually setting up all at once right as it is ready to remove from the stove. If you are using a vanilla bean or cinnamon stick for flavor, remove it. If you are adding an extract such as vanilla, orange, or butterscotch, stir it in before pouring the pudding into small serving containers.

If you cover the pudding with plastic wrap as it sets, it will not form a distasteful skin. Have pre-cut plastic wrap sitting out so that you can immediately cover the dishes, pressing down on the plastic to force out any air bubbles. Put the pudding in the fridge to cool, and serve with fresh fruit or whipped cream.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By Valencia — On Jun 01, 2011

The recipes posted here all sound wonderful, especially for people like me with an out of control sweet tooth!

I can see the point of covering home made pudding with plastic wrap to stop a skin forming, but is it just my family that think that's the best part? I have so many memories of fighting over who got that when I was a kid.

By MsClean — On Jun 01, 2011

Has anyone ever heard of pudding cake? My mom used to bake it when we were kids but her version isn't like any of the recipes I've found on the Internet.

She would bake a yellow sheet cake and punch holes in it either with a wooden spoon or a straw. While it was cooling she would whip up a batch of chocolate pudding, then pour the pudding over the top of the cake so it would run down in the holes.

There were always enough holes in it so every slice was sure to have a pudding center.

By KLHChef — On Jun 01, 2011

A type of pudding that comes in handy for people who hate to waste food is bread pudding. Put that stale bread to good use! Just pour a mixture of sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla extract and butter over the bread, let it soak in for a few minutes and then bake it in the oven for about 45 minutes. Sometimes I add chopped pecans to give it a little crunch and a bit of brandy for an extra kick of flavor.

Another great thing about bread pudding is its capacity to be served either warm or cold. Pudding is such a versatile food!

By risotto — On Jun 01, 2011

Don't forget about rice pudding! It is one of my absolute favorites when done right. Rum raisin and maple pecan are two of my favorite flavors to make. It's super easy and only requires about half a dozen ingredients. I recommend using basmati rice because of its rich, nutty flavor. I think rice pudding kind of gets a bad rap sometimes, but it's quite delicious with the right flavors and texture.

By bfree — On Jun 01, 2011

I have so many wonderful pudding recipes that have been handed down to me over the years and one of my favorites is homemade chocolate orange pudding. It reminds me of those little chocolate oranges we get at Christmas time.

It's very easy to do. Just make the chocolate pudding as you normally would but towards the end add about a teaspoon of orange extract and mix well. I like to garnish mine with a little orange zest too.

By ladyjane — On Jun 01, 2011

Banana pudding is another popular pudding flavor. Of course it's served best between layers of whipping cream and vanilla wafers.

Really soft ripe bananas are easier to work with and add a lot more flavor to the pudding. I use the fresher bananas to add slices between the layers and then sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top.

It's a delicious Southern banana pudding that my grandmother taught me how to make years ago. I hope your family will try it and enjoy it as much as mine.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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