What's For Dessert: Vanilla Bean Pudding

I bought a half-gallon of whole milk last week, with intentions of using it in a recipe for sweetened condensed milk. (We are typically skim milk drinkers in this house.) However, after realizing that the recipe I planned to follow would take several hours (and the sweetened condensed milk -- just two tablespoons' worth -- was intended for another recipe I was making), I opted to follow a simpler recipe that called for dry milk.

Long story short, I had an unopened carton of whole milk in the fridge and I needed to use it up. The first thing I thought of was pudding (of course my mind would go to dessert first). Since I had just recently made a chocolate pudding recipe (and a quick glance through my archives shows that I always opt for chocolate when it comes to pudding), I figured it was about time I try a vanilla pudding recipe. Smitten Kitchen provided just the recipe I was looking for, and the resulting pudding was delicious and finely-flecked with vanilla bean seeds -- just because it's vanilla doesn't mean it's boring. This pudding is definitely a step above the plastic containers of pre-made pudding you can buy in the grocery store.

I still have over half a container of whole milk left -- I'm thinking a custard might be next on my must-make list.

How would you use up a container of whole milk?

Vanilla Bean Pudding (printer-friendly version)
makes six (1/2 cup) servings

2 2/3 cups organic whole milk, divided
1/2 cup raw granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
1 large egg
1 teaspoon bourbon or dark rum [optional]

1. In a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla bean seeds. Slowly whisk in 2/3 cup whole milk, then whisk in the egg. Continue stirring until smooth. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining milk and vanilla bean seed pods. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the milk begins to boil, remove the pods and slowly add the hot milk to the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly.
3. Pour back into the saucepan and, while stirring continuously, bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for an additional minute. If desired, add in a teaspoon of bourbon or dark rum for a little extra flavor.
4. Carefully pour the pudding into six containers. Chill in the fridge until set, at least 2 hours.

 (adapted from this Smitten Kitchen recipe)


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