Without a catchy intro, I’ll get straight to the point: Those four-pack puddings smell and taste nasty, like rancid milk with a sickly, tangy aftertaste. You know the ones I’m talking about, those pudding packs meant for snacking (wink, wink). Now, I don’t think I’m necessarily a food snob, and these pudding packs are deemed perfectly safe to eat, but prepared foods like this make me grumpy.
It’s the quality of the prepackaged foods that is so frustrating. It’s like those fancy food companies just keep adding more and more sugar and salt to carrageenan, hydrogenated oil, and wood pulp and wrap it up in a brightly colored bag or box, and we’re just supposed to eat it. And if they slap the words “natural” or “farm fresh” on it, then kudos to them because it means more consumers think that these items are healthy or were actually harvested yesterday or some such nonsense.
Sigh… The sad fact is, many of us do eat these items. And like so many of my peers and those in the younger generations, we have no idea what the original versions of these heavily marketed convenience foods taste like. It’s kinda soul-crushing when I think of my kids’ friends (and probably their parents) and the likelihood that they’ve never eaten anything truly homemade. And no, making a mix from a box doesn’t count.
Now, I know you’re thinking: “Jeez, calm down, lady. It’s just pudding.” You are right. It is just pudding. And I can’t understand why more people can’t take 15 minutes to make something as simple as pudding (and not that instant powdered junk from a box). Then again, we’re now living in a society in which marketers are telling us we’re too busy to do our own meal planning and grocery shopping or to go to a restaurant, and we need these home-delivery services. So, of course, not too many of us cook from scratch anymore.
What I’ve found is that taste has been the biggest factor for my family to make better food choices. Because I cook most meals from scratch, when my son and daughter do have the occasion to eat those convenience food items, they recognize that the flavor is of no comparison. My kids do not like boxed macaroni and cheese because they say it tastes like cardboard. My son, Fletcher, refuses to eat bottled ranch dressing. And he will likely scrape off the mound of vegetable shortening and heavily dyed icing off of a cheap birthday cupcake because it tastes so bad.
So, if I can commit to a little extra effort and time to making something from real ingredients, we can forgo the prepackaged slop and indulge on all of the wonderful quick dessert recipes without having to sacrifice flavor, and so can you. In fact, you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already. Don’t have hazelnut flavoring? Simply swap it with vanilla, coffee, or peppermint extract for another great flavor option.
(psst: This recipe is perfect for making frozen pudding pops, too. So, dust off the ol’ popsicle molds and give this a try.)
Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 3 cups whole milk
• 4 egg yolks
• 1 tablespoon butter
• ½ teaspoon hazelnut extract
1. In a medium bowl, separate egg yolks and slightly beat with a fork. Set aside.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, stir sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and milk. Cook and stir constantly until the cocoa dissolves and steam begins to rise from the mixture.
3. Remove pan from heat and temper yolks by slowly pouring about a cup of the hot milk mixture to the yolks, constantly stirring.
4. Put the pan back on the stove and return to constantly stirring as you pour the tempered yolks mixture back into the pan.
5. Once combined, cook and stir the mixture until it thickens to a pudding consistency. Once it starts to bubble, the yolks should be hot enough to be “cooked,” and can be removed from the heat. Do not boil this mixture.
6. With a fine mesh sieve over a clean medium bowl, pour the pudding mixture through the sieve to catch egg solids that may have formed during tempering.
7. Add the butter and extract, and stir. Cover the pudding with plastic wrap to prevent the “skin” from forming on the top, or you can simply scrape it off before serving.
Serve immediately for a warm pudding dessert, or allow to cool slightly before storing in the fridge. If your family doesn’t immediately eat all the pudding, including licking the spoon and bowl clean, then it should keep in the fridge for up to three days.
Corinne Gompf is a writer and hobby farmer in Morrow County, Ohio. She is a graduate from the University of Toledo, with a BA in English, creative writing concentration. Along with her husband, Matt, and two children, Fletcher and Emery, Corinne raises poultry, Boer goats, rabbits, and chemical-free produce. Connect with Corinne on her Heritage Harvest Farm Facebook page.
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