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A Mug Pudding for Almost-Instant, From-Scratch Happiness

August 15, 2018

Ah, pudding. It’s the treat that soothes sore throats and sustains us after surgery. It’s what moms and dads tuck into elementary school lunchboxes, and whip together as last-minute crowd-pleasers. Creamy and velvety smooth, pudding feels like collapsing on the couch after a long day—it’s the ultimate comfort food.

And hey, Jell-O snack cups and instant mixes are great. But authors Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough have another super-speedy, from-scratch way to get your pudding fix. In their guide to lightening-fast cooking, The Kitchen Shortcut Bible, they take a page from mug cakes and transform pudding into a 2-minute microwavable affair.

*Almost* instant happiness in a mug. Photo by Julia Gartland

“Creamy and smooth, this one’s like old-fashioned butterscotch, made with that tasty combo of brown sugar and butter, rather than the caramel-like flavoring common in instant butterscotch pudding,” they write. “The results will be soft, even after chilling.”

To make the pudding, you begin by stirring milk, egg substitute (like Egg Beaters), cornstarch, vanilla, and salt in a microwaveable mug. Next, add butter and cook on high for 1 minute, stir, and put it back in for 30 seconds. Once the mixture bubbles up to the rim of the mug, stop the microwave, stir again, and cook in 10-second bursts until the mixture is thick and rich. After that, it just needs a 4-hour chill in the fridge. I promise the wait is worth it.

Some notes from the authors’ test kitchen:

  • The mug must be truly microwave safe. Some pottery can burst. Check manufacturer websites to be sure. If you’ve made tea in your mug in the microwave, you’re probably good to go.
  • Use only whole milk.
  • The cornstarch must be completely dissolved, no little bits floating in the mix. A mini whisk will work better than a fork. Use a genuine pasteurized egg substitute, not pasteurized egg whites or separated egg whites from whole eggs. And not regular eggs, as they will curdle. Never take your eyes off that window in the microwave oven. Stop the microwave when the mixture boils to the rim of the mug, and stir it down before continuing.
  • In each of these recipes, you microwave the pudding for a 30-second burst on high or until the mixture rises to the rim of the mug, then you soldier on with 10-second bursts. Unfortunately, the exact number of additional 10-second bursts can be tricky to determine. Various glazes on pottery retain more heat than others; the thickness of the walls of some pottery mugs insulates the pudding more effectively.
  • These recipes make individual servings. You can double, triple, multiply them up as much as you want by using more and more microwave-safe mugs. However, microwave them one by one for the best set.

Even more mug magic

I love this recipe for several reasons. One, it has the silky texture and luxurious taste of homemade pudding, but with a much shorter cook time and less sweating over the stove. Two, fewer bowls to clean. And three, it’s so easy to prep as a mid-afternoon snack or after-dinner dessert, just when I want comfort the most.

What's your favorite last-minute dessert? Can you make it in a microwave? Share in the comments below!

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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.

1 Comment

JOEY October 16, 2018
How is this a last minute dessert if it has to set up for four hours? Isn't that a little like calling osso bucco a last minute main dish?