Many of my tastes have grown up right along with the rest of me, but my love of pudding remains. This recipe hints at all the good that I found in Snack Pack pudding cups, but with a bit more adult sophistication (if only because it’s not consumed out of a small plastic cup). —Ashley Rodriguez
For the chocolate and peanut butter pudding and assembly:
To make the chocolate pudding: In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/3 cup sugar. Whisk in 3 cups milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then set over medium-high heat.
After about 10 minutes, the mixture will thicken slightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then whisk in the chocolate and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Continue to cook until thickened, about 2 minutes longer. Turn off the heat, then whisk in 2 tablespoons butter.
If there seem to be any lumps, pass the pudding through a fine mesh strainer. Transfer to a bowl, then cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the pudding. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
To make the peanut butter pudding: Prepare the peanut butter pudding in the same way as you did the chocolate pudding, using the remaining ingredients, but substitute the peanut butter for the chocolate.
For the candied pretzels: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar and water. Cover and set over medium-high heat. Let the mixture boil for 5 minutes before removing the lid.
Cook the sugar until it becomes a deep copper color and starts to smoke. Turn off the heat, then immediately stir in the pretzel sticks.
Pour the mixture onto the prepared sheet pan and spread it out. Let this cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break into small pieces for serving. If you have leftovers after you've assembled the puddings, store them in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Layer the chocolate and peanut butter puddings, then top with whipped cream, a pinch of flaky salt, and some pieces of the candied pretzels. If you have leftover pudding, do not top it with whipped cream or pretzels; it will keep, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for 3 days.