Originally posted October 23, 2015. Revised and updated October 31, 2016.
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If you take a look back at your childhood, I am pretty sure there are certain dishes that will come to mind, some things you just loved as well as some recipes you couldn’t stand.
This creamy vanilla pudding is definitely one of the dishes that fills my memories. On cold days I liked to enjoy it right away, while it was still warm and soft. But it’s also worth waiting a couple of hours to consume it chilled. In that case, a nice fruit compote or syrup would be an amazing addition!
The term “pudding” itself has different meanings in different countries. Here in Germany it describes this special dessert, a cream that consists of milk, vanilla or chocolate, and starch to thicken it. You can spoon it right from the bowl or chill it in a mold for a fancy look.
In Great Britain, the term can describe something entirely different.
Do you know Yorkshire pudding? It is not even a dessert, but a traditional savory pastry served with roast chicken or beef.
The Scots serve so-called black puddings, really hearty recipes made of blood and spices.
There is also a sweet Christmas pudding (sometimes called figgy pudding, if it has fig content). It is steamed and contains dried fruits, nuts, syrup, seasonal spices, and alcohol. It has an intense flavor and is extremely long-lasting, as a result of the cooking process.
As you can see, although Christmas pudding is a sweet dish, it is not quite comparable to my favorite kind of milky dessert. This type of pudding became popular when starch products were developed that allowed the dish to be chilled in a mold.
Here’s the best thing about this recipe:
You can adjust the following basic guidelines almost completely to suit your tastes or needs.
For example, do you suffer from lactose intolerance or other food allergies?
Use soy milk or – what I believe is even tastier and suitable for just about everyone – almond or coconut milk. These alternatives will give your dish a more distinct flavor as well. Add some chopped nuts or small fruit chunks for a more varied texture, and just leave the whipped cream aside.
Or, maybe I can get you interested in another version?
Replace the vanilla with about a cup of dark or milk chocolate chunks, and leave them to melt in the milk. Then proceed as directed. Choc-o-licious!
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Combine Milk and Cornstarch
Mix the cornstarch with 4 tablespoons of the milk, and stir until no lumps are left.
If you’re planning to chill the pudding in a fancy mold for presentation at the table, you’ll need to add some more cornstarch in order to be able to remove it from the mold, and to allow it to retain its shape. Increasing the total amount to 2/3 cup should suffice.
Step 2 – Add Vanilla (or Chocolate)
Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod. Pour the remaining milk into a saucepan, and add the sugar, salt, the vanilla seeds, and the pod.
Place over high heat, stirring occasionally.
If you’d like to make a chocolate version instead, simply add the chocolate to the milk instead of the vanilla, and let it melt over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a whisk.
Then proceed with the instructions as described.
Step 3 – Thicken
As soon as the milk mixture comes to a boil, take the saucepan off the stove and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Continue stirring until the pudding starts to thicken.
Put the pan back on the stove on very low heat and keep stirring until the pudding starts bubbling again.
Step 4 – Pour into Molds
Remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour into small jars, ramekins, or nice molds. Leave to cool for a couple of hours in the fridge – or enjoy straight from the jar while still warm.
For the best results, rinse your molds with cold water before filling. Or you could even coat them first with some chocolate or vanilla syrup, for a classy look.
Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours until form, then turn carefully onto dessert plates when you’re ready to serve.
Want more German desserts? If you are looking for cute cookies to serve at your next party, use my recipe for Amerikaner cookie cakes, and decorate them as you wish!
Do you have any ideas to really “foo foo” up this recipe? Share your tips with other readers in the comment section below.
Photos by Nina-Kristin Isensee, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.