Vanilla and almond pudding with cherry compote

pudding2Pudding is not just for kids! Really, it can be for grownups too! (Just not from a plastic cup that you buy at the store–kids deserve better than that, too.) I realized that homemade pudding is superb a few years ago after making eclairs. I used all of the cream puffs I made but had quite a bit of leftover pastry cream and ganache, so I ate those things together, and I didn’t miss the cream puff at all.

I had a little dinner party this weekend, and although I usually plan what I want to cook days in advance, I hadn’t decided on a dessert until 12 hours before the meal. It’s hot and steamy here, so I didn’t really want to turn on the oven, and cherries have been extra delicious and cheap for the past few weeks. I thought about buying ice cream, but that’s too easy, and then it hit me: pudding. Pudding topped with cherry compote. Doesn’t it just sound delicious? It gets even better, because I ended up with vanilla and almond pudding with cherry compote. Doesn’t that sound fancy?

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It might sound fancy, but it’s a snap to prepare.

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This pudding is a bit richer than traditional puddings. Pudding typically only has cornstarch, and custard is made of egg. This has both, and although it’s technically pastry cream (a “cream pudding” according to the internet), the technicalities are irrelevant.

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It’s just a solid dessert that takes little preparation and combines with summer produce effortlessly.

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Vanilla and almond pudding
adapted from Julia Child’s The Way To Cook
makes about 2 ½ cups or 6 servings
five-stars

Notes: I think that straining puddings is pretty unnecessary. I didn’t have a fine mesh sieve for a long time, and so I never strained my puddings. I actually did strain it this time, but there was no difference. Hence, no reason to strain.

I typically use flour to make the pudding, but I wanted it to be gluten-free this time, so I only used cornstarch. The cornstarch took a bit longer to thicken than flour has for me in the past.

I used 2% milk; I’ve made it with skim and a few splashes of heavy cream, too. It is fine with anything, but avoid only using skim milk.

I’ve heated the milk in a saucepan on the stove. This time I heated it in the microwave for 1 minute 45 seconds.

 

6 egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
½ cup all purpose flour or cornstarch, or a combination of both
2 cups milk, heated
2 ½ teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon almond extract

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk egg yolks. Add sugar and salt, and whisk until well combined and lemon-colored. Add flour or cornstarch, and whisk to incorporate it.

2. Slowly whisk heated milk into egg mixture, a few dribbles at a time at first, gradually adding all of the milk.

3. Cook mixture on stove over medium heat, whisking continuously and being sure to whisk around the whole pot. Bring to a boil;the pudding will begin to clump, so whisk vigorously to smooth it. It thickens quickly.

4. Reduce heat to low, and switch to a wooden spoon. Stir pudding for about 2 more minutes, until the it is thick and holds its shape in the spoon.

5. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and almond extract. Transfer to a clean bowl and stir until cool. Once cool, push pudding down from the sides, gently press plastic wrap on top of it to prevent a skin from forming, and put in the refrigerator. Let cool and set for at least 3 hours before serving.

 

Cherry compote
five-stars

Note: My lemon was exceptionally small– about 130 grams and 3 inches long.

 

1 ½ pounds Bing cherries, washed and pitted (how to pit cherries without a cherry pitter)
¼ cup granulated sugar
juice of ½ lemon

1. Toss together cherries and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan; gently press some cherries with a spoon to break them up and release more juices.

2. Set pan over medium heat and cover. Once the juices are boiling, remove the lid. Stir mixture every so often and keep it boiling for 6 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Let compote cool. Transfer to an air-tight glass container.

Serve a few spoonfuls of compote over ½ cup of vanilla and almond pudding.

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