Tuesday, May 22, 2012

National Vanilla Pudding Day

It's National Vanilla Pudding Day, an occasion which celebrates the beauty of simplicity.  There are no bananas or vanilla wafers in this pudding; no chocolate or butterscotch has been stirred in.  This isn't being used as a custard for trifle or for a parfait.  It is glorious all on its own!

Periodically, a debate pops up between chocolate lovers and vanilla afficionados.  I adore chocolate, and will almost always prefer it over what seems to be plain ol' vanilla.  But it's a matter of the quality of the vanilla.  A rich, fragrant, luscious vanilla - using beans or pure extract to impart flavor - is a truly wonderful taste not to be underestimated.

And that's the beauty of this pudding: it lets the true vanilla essence shine through in a creamy, seductive dessert.

This pudding would be perfect for Shavuot [shah-voo-OTE], the two-day holiday celebrating receipt of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which begins Saturday at sundown.  It would be especially lovely served with fruit; then it would honor both the dairy and the harvest traditions of the holiday, though the former is predominantly acknowledged.  (To read my article about Roman food to serve for Shavuot, scroll down to page 25 of this month's issue of the Washtenaw Jewish News.)

Because chag ([HAHG] = the holiday) follows Shabbat ([shah-BAHT] = the Sabbath) and work is prohibited on all three days, here are some recipes that can be prepared ahead of time for your upcoming holiday weekend featuring both religious and secular celebrations.  The recipes are also delicious for those who are still free to cook all weekend, and who are looking for great treats for the three-day break or for a Memorial Day barbecue.

Fried Ice Cream "Torah Scrolls"

Custard with Strawberry Sauce

Ricotta Cheese Pudding

Basil Parmesan Shortbread

Brownie Ice Cream Pie

Berries with Sweetened Sour Cream

Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love Tart

Cinnamon Roll Sundae

Fruit and Cheese Tidbits

Vanilla Pudding

3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups half-and-half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten

Place the cornstarch, salt, sugar and water into a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly.  As soon as the mixture is translucent, turn heat down to medium-low and whisk in half-and-half, vanilla, and eggs.  Cook, whisking constantly, for about 10 minutes until the pudding is thickened.  Place into a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap pressed against the surface to prevent the formation of a skin, and refrigerate until cold.

Makes 8 servings.


Unknown said...

Although chocolate is definitely my favorite, there truly is something to be said about the simplicity and deliciousness of a good vanilla pudding. Yours looks perfectly done!

Debra Hawkins said...

You know what I love about vanilla? That it doesn't stain clothes like chocolate. I swear half my kids clothes are chocolate stained. I would much rather her have vanilla. :)

Carla from The River said...

Yum Yum!

Cranberry Morning said...

It never even occurred to me that one could make pudding from scratch, like that. Ha! Vanilla is great, but strawberries on it makes it even better. :-)

momto8blog said...

simply delicious doesn't need anything else!! well, maybe whipped cream on top..
I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

Candace said...

Given the choice between chocolate and vanilla, I will almost always choose chocolate. But, you know what? I love vanilla pudding and to have one made from scratch like that would be amazing. Count me in!

Debra Kapellakis said...


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