Pudding is the ultimate comfort dessert for me. You can go from zero to pudding in less than 30 minutes, plus a few bites of warm pudding fresh from the pot will tide you over until the rest of the batch cools. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
4-6 servings, depending on the size of the vessel
Gather four-six glasses or serving dishes and place them on a baking sheet. Make enough room in your fridge that it will fit comfortably.
Combine the milk, cream, vanilla bean and scraped seeds, salt, and ¼ cup of the brown sugar in a medium pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer, uncovered, over medium heat, about 3-5 minutes.
In a medium, heat-safe bowl, whisk the remaining ½ cup brown sugar and cornstarch to combine. When the milk/cream mixture comes to a simmer, whisk the egg yolks into the sugar (don’t do this too far before the milk is ready – the sugar can pull moisture from the egg yolks and make a grainy, unpleasant texture).
Gradually pour some (about 1/3) of the milk mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to combine. Return the mixture to the pot, and continue to cook, whisking constantly, over medium low heat.
Switch to a silicone spatula and continue to cook, stirring the base and sides constantly, until the mixture comes to “first boil” - small bubbles may appear around the edge of the put, but continue to cook until a large bubble (or a few) appear in the very center of the pot. The pudding should be thick and creamy, 3-4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, remove the vanilla bean with a fork or tongs.
Pour the mixture into the prepared glasses or serving dishes. If you’re anti-pudding skin, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the puddings to prevent a skin from forming (if you secretly love pudding skin like a select few of us out there, skip this step).
Chill the pudding until it’s fully cooled and even thicker, at least 2 hours (and up to overnight).
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, is out on November 10th, 2020.