Love in a bowl: Stop sneering at pudding. You can make it as quickly or as sophisticated as you wish

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By Keri White

Pudding is an underrated dessert. Many people avoid it, thinking of the substandard instant versions of yore, and others sneer at it as a low-brow, humble dish. But they are missing out.


Sure, pudding can be simple and homey (and delicious), but it can also elevate to elegance and sophistication with some simple modifications. As the temperatures have turned cold, I have enjoyed a warm bowl of pudding for dessert on many a winter eve.

The beauty of these recipes is that they can be made in about 10 minutes, so a last-minute craving can be satisfied. They are also gluten-free, so for people avoiding gluten they are a worthy treat. Finally, they can be served hot (my preference) or chilled (in the unlikely event of leftovers) so they are a cook’s friend!

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The versions below are the more elegant recipes, as they are finished with some flourishes, but you can skip these if you wish a simpler dessert, or don’t have these ingredients on hand.

Chocolate Heavenly Pudding
Serves 2 generously or 4 sensibly

I prefer to add a handful of dark chocolate chips and a spoonful of instant espresso to push this to the next level, but you can omit them for a straightforward bowl of chocolate pudding with absolutely no downside.


If you prefer a lighter version, you can use 2 cups of milk instead of using the ½ cup of half-and-half. I also prefer the depth that brown sugar delivers, but white sugar works just

fine here.

And if you wish to riff on other flavors, you can swap the vanilla for another flavor — consider a tablespoon of rum, or coffee liqueur, orange cordial, Frangelico, coconut extract or crème de menthe.

Garnish with toasted chopped nuts, toasted shredded coconut, crumbled cocoa nibs, a sprinkle of chili powder or coarse salt. Or not.

⅔ cup brown or white sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon instant espresso or coffee
2 tablespoons corn starch

1½ cups whole milk
½ cup half-and-half
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup dark chocolate chips (if gluten-free is
priority, check label!)

In a medium saucepan, whisk the dry ingredients together. Add the milk and half-and-half, and whisk to blend.

Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes; the pudding will thicken and begin to bubble. When it reaches that point, allow it to bubble for another minute until well thickened.

Remove it from the heat, add the vanilla and chocolate chips, and stir to melt. Serve it hot, or allow it to cool to the desired temperature.

You can finish this with fresh whipped cream, fruit or serve it solo.

Butterscotch Heavenly Pudding
Serves 2 generously or 4 sensibly

If you are serving this to youngsters, you may wish to omit the booze. It is unlikely to intoxicate anyone, but it does deliver a more sophisticated flavor, and the kiddies may like it best without.

⅔ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1½ cups whole milk
½ cup half-and-half
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons best-quality salted butter
(such as Plugra, Kerrygold)
1 tablespoon bourbon or scotch
whiskey (optional)
Sprinkle of coarse sea salt, to finish

In a medium saucepan, whisk the dry ingredients together. Add the milk and half-and-half, and whisk to blend.

Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes; the pudding will thicken and begin to bubble. When it reaches that point, allow to bubble for another minute until well thickened.

Remove it from the heat, add the vanilla, whiskey and butter, and stir to melt. Serve it hot, or allow it to cool to the desired temperature.

Just before serving, sprinkle the pudding with coarse sea salt. You can finish this with fresh whipped cream, fruit or serve it solo.

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