Forget instant pudding. Making pudding from scratch is easy and only requires a few staple ingredients.
Homemade pudding has a reputation for being difficult and disaster prone. In fact it is straightforward and easy to make as long as you give it your full attention. The cooking pudding needs constant attention to prevent burning and lumps, during this time you cannot stop stirring to answer the phone or find a bowl for the next step. Don't worry though, this step only takes about 5 minutes.
I have provided a basic recipe in step 2, but the important thing here is the method, so feel free to use any recipe you like. A similar method is used for custard, pastry cream and ice cream.
Step 1: Ingredients and Tools
All pudding recipes will use these basic ingredients in varying proportions.
Small sauce pan
2 heat proof bowls
Step 2: Recipe
There are a huge number of recipes available for pudding and this method will help you make any of them. The recipe below is more or less average, while you may find others with many more yolks, whole eggs or no eggs at all.
A Basic Recipe:
1 cup Milk (1%-3%)
1 Egg Yolk
1 Tbsp Corn Starch
1/8 cup Sugar
pinch Salt (op)
1 tsp Butter (op)
Expect 2 servings per cup of milk. Scale as desired.
Other recipes you might like to try:
Chocolate Orange Pudding
Step 3: Prep
In a heatproof bowl whisk together cornstarch, sugar, egg yolks, salt and a splash of milk.
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan heat remaining milk over medium heat. Stir to prevent milk from burning.
Have ready a second heatproof bowl, a strainer, and a heatproof spatula. You will not be able to leave the stove once you start the next step (it will take 5 or 10 minutes) so make sure everything is ready.
Step 4: "Temper" Eggs
Once the milk is just simmering or foamy around the edges and steaming pour slowly into the egg mixture whisking the entire time. Once about half of the milk is whisked in, you can start pouring more quickly and dump the rest in.
This is called tempering the eggs and allows you to mix the hot milk and eggs without getting egg drop soup.
Step 5: Cook
Pour the milk and egg mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Begin stirring with a heatproof spatula.
At first the pudding will be thin and watery. Keep stirring.
After a few minutes you will notice the mixture beginning to thicken. Use the spatula to stir every part of the pan thoroughly and constantly. It may begin to bubble, just keep stirring.
Keep stirring until the pudding is thick enough to coat the spatula and leave a clean line when you pull your finger through it. Remove from heat and pour immediately through a strainer into a clean bowl.
Step 6: Strain
Push the cooked pudding through a strainer to catch any inevitable lumps.
Step 7: Finish
To finish the pudding stir in butter (optional but adds a nice shine) and any desired flavourings. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming, and refrigerate a few hours until cool and set.
Stir chopped chocolate into hot pudding. Allow an ounce or two per cup of milk. Use a good quality chocolate that you would eat plain.
Stir in a splash of good quality vanilla extract. Allow a teaspoon or so per cup of milk.