Sometimes, there are obvious reasons for why I get into a bad mood; at other times, I just can’t say why I feel like crap. Yesterday was one of those days. I was as grouchy as a hippo with a hernia (paraphrasing Zazu in The Lion King.) Most men I know would label this kind of ambivalent mood swing as PMS, but no, it wasn’t that.
When I’m down and out of sorts, I make Butterscotch Pudding. The blending of butter, brown sugar, and cream has a way of lifting my spirit, making me feel sane again. My sister shops when she’s in a bad mood. I make butterscotch pudding.
Butterscotch pudding from the box, (and any other pudding for that matter), cannot be compared to that made from scratch. Pudding made from fresh ingredients and eaten hot off the stove has an intriguing complexity and flavor depth that lingers on the palate. One taste simply begs for the next.
Making butterscotch pudding is therapeutic: the constant stirring is almost trance-inducing, and as the pudding cooks and thickens, the smell of brown sugar marrying with the cream is intoxicating. There’s just nothing like it.
Pudding offers comfort and consolation. They are homey little things, best left unadorned and unembellished. Pudding is a blunt instrument of sweetness, and that’s how it should be. With pudding, there’s nothing better for calming me down and making me feel whole again.
It sure beats being an ornery ogre.
Adapted from The Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp (yes, that’s right) vanilla extract
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 cups half and half OR 1 cup evaporated milk + 1 cup whole milk
3 tbsp (1.5 oz) unsalted butter
In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the vanilla extract. Set aside. Sift the cornstarch and salt into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the sugar. Turn on heat to medium and whisk in half and half or the evaporated milk-whole milk mixture. Whisk until the mixture begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Don’t worry if the mixture takes longer than 2 minutes to thicken. Just keep on whisking. It will thicken. When the mixture has started to thicken, stir in the butter with a heat-proof rubber spatula.
When the mixture has thickened to a pasty consistency, whisk the hot mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and stir until the mixture is to the desired consistency. I like mine a little soupy.
Serve warm or chilled. Pudding will further thicken upon standing.