I love puddings. My father probably instilled the love of them in me. He was a great cook but not big on desserts. The one thing he did make was custards, tapiocas and puddings. So I tend to lean in that direction, too. Because I love all-things French, my custards usually fall in the tart category, much to the glee of my son. Again, the simplicity of a lovely cream pudding or vanilla custard encased in a buttery, flaky and light pie crust is very compelling. Add some fruit topping and a bit of jelly glaze and it’s visually scrumptious as well.
1 Cup milk (do not use cream, trust me)
1/3 cup sugar
2 TB cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 TB softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract (altho I often use almond extract instead)
Bring 3/4 cup of the milk and all the sugar to a boil in a solid, heavy pot (I use Le Creuset with a non-wire whisk). Whisk the cornstarch into the remaining 1/4 cup milk in a medium size bowl. Then whisk in the egg yolks and then 1/3 of the hot milk mixture. Whisk constantly and add then add the yolky milk to the rest of the hot milk in the pot and bring it back to a boil. It’ll thicken when you do. When it boils, remove it from the heat, whisk in the butter and the vanilla. At this point, I let it sit until it’s warm but not hot or cold and pour it in the tart shells I’ve prepared. (You do make your own tart crusts, don’t you?) Top it with whatever fruit you like–strawberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit–and then glaze it with a thickened apple jelly that you’ve reduced in a small saucepan over medium heat until it coats the back of a spoon.
Looks elegant, literally therapeutic to make (and assemble!) and exquisite to taste. On this you can totally trust me.