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Vanilla Bean Pudding

Vanilla Bean Pudding

There is something very comforting about about a bowl of homemade vanilla pudding. I ate it all the time as a kid – usually made from a handy box of pudding mix, which I could easily make myself – and still enjoy the way a bowl of pudding will bring a little happiness into my day now. These days, of course, I make my vanilla pudding from scratch, which makes it a little more satisfying over all. It is easy to make and requires just a few ingredients. From start to finish the pudding takes about 15 minutes to make, then you’re ready to eat a bowl of creamy, smooth and very vanilla-y pudding.

I give this homemade pudding an extra vanilla boost by using a vanilla bean for flavor, rather than relying on vanilla extract. I first infuse the milk with the bean and then scrape the seeds into the pudding mixture. You get a great vanilla flavor and capture some of the floral notes of the vanilla bean by doing this, and it doesn’t take any more time than stirring in vanilla extract (which does still make a good pudding if you don’t have whole beans). I also tend to use whole milk when making this pudding, as it gives the finished custard a thicker, richer consistency. The recipe will work just as well with low fat milk, but if you are using low fat milk and prefer your pudding on the thick side, add an extra 1/2 tbsp or so of cornstarch for extra thickening power.

Once your pudding is finished, you can eat it warm or serve it chilled. It is more delicate (i.e. less thick) and custard-like than some puddings, but it will be slightly thicker after it has been completely chilled. If you like the “skin,” leave your pudding uncovered as it cools. If you prefer skin-less pudding, press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of each of your pudding cups and leave it there as they cool.

Vanilla Bean Pudding
1/4 vanilla bean*
2 1/2 cups milk (pref. whole milk), divided
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt

Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a sharp knife.
In a medium saucepan, combine vanilla bean, 2 cups of milk and 1/2 cup sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove the vanilla bean and scrap out the seeds using a small knife. Put seeds back into the milk mixture.
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, remaining 1/2 cup milk and salt until smooth. Whisking constantly, gradually stream in the hot milk mixture until all of it has been incorporated.
Pour mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a spatula, until the pudding just comes to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes until pudding thickens.
Remove from heat and divide evenly into four dessert cups or ramekins.
Pudding will continue to thicken as it cools.
Serve slightly warm or chilled.

Serves 4.

*Note: If you prefer to use vanilla extract, omit the vanilla bean and stir in 2 tsp vanilla extract to the pudding after it has thickened, just before you remove it from the heat to pour into dessert cups.

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  • Sherry
    March 18, 2012

    This is the second time I’ve tried to leave a comment. Hopefully this one is posted and answered. I made this pudding but it turned out like soup. Any idea where I might have gone wrong?

  • Nicole
    March 18, 2012

    Sherry – This pudding is a bit more delicate (thinner) than some puddings are, but with the cornstarch in the recipe it should definitely have thickened up. Is it possible that you might not have cooked the pudding long enough for the cornstarch to thicken it? It is also possible that you just prefer a thicker pudding to a recipe like this one! For a thicker pudding, add an extra tablespoon of cornstarch in with your egg yolks and it should thicken up more.

  • Sherry
    March 30, 2012

    Thanks, Nicole. I will give it another try.

  • Noemi
    December 13, 2012

    Hi! I found this recipe by googling how to use up the rest of my leftover egg yolks. I followed the comment in the suggestions and added one more tablespoon of cornstarch. I also added a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar, and used vanilla extract since I had no vanilla beans. I cooked it a bit longer than 3 minutes at the last step, since I wanted to make sure it would thicken up. It tastes great and it thickened just the way I wanted! it is not the same consistency as a store-bought pudding cup, but the flavor is fantastic! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  • Noemi
    December 13, 2012

    Oh, right, and I try not to keep dairy in the house, so I used almond milk instead, which was still delicious, but I’m sure adds a different flavor than using whole milk.

  • Amber
    December 27, 2012

    This was delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  • kittenprrn
    February 26, 2013

    easy and delicious

  • Furthea
    March 9, 2013

    Thanks. I decided to make an omelet for breakfast today but didn’t want the yolks from all 4 eggs I used (the last in the fridge) so I set aside 2 of the yolks and looked up recipes for something simple to do.

    Then I ended up needing ricotta cheese for dinner so I went up to the store and bought more eggs while I was at it. When I got home I managed to drop the bag they were in and cracked 4 of them. I didn’t remember that the recipe needed only 2 so I pulled out 2 of the yolks and put the rest of the eggs and yolks in another storage for something tomorrow.

    Still used all 4 yolks and 3 tbsp of cornstarch but the rest was the same. Thought the pudding would never thicken while heating on the stove, then suddenly it went from quite thin to very thick in moments. Added in the vanilla and YUM, I’d never had fresh made or hot pudding before. I need to stop looking up dessert recipes, XD.

  • myra
    September 20, 2013

    Wow, I finally found a recipe that makes pudding like the jello-bake boxes! It’s a compliment! I was just looking to use up 2 egg yolks and decided to make this. So good!!!! I’m so excited to have found this. I’ve tried other recipes (from favorite blogs) and nothing has come close. Thank you!

  • dianne
    September 28, 2013

    After making pavlova roll for my family for years and ending up with egg yolks that our dog really enjoys, I have now found a recipe to quickly use up those leftover egg yolks. This is great and enjoyed by all, so much that I am making another lot today but this time will double the quantity & reduce the sugar content. Looks like now I have to use the leftover egg whites !!!

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