For Thanksgiving, I make a trifle that is layered with this rich vanilla custard, pumpkin and gingerbread, and my family always goes for this over the pie! (Even though I've won blue ribbons for my pie) But the heart of the trifle is this pudding. It's just simple, basic, classic vanilla pudding with a hint of cardamom that elevates it to something so wonderful, I used to stand over the bowl with a spoon as I was making it! When I have guests and for dinner and don't have time to make an elaborate dessert, I often make this a day in advance and can embellish it with whatever fruit is in season, or nuts or whipped cream, whatever your little ol' heart desires. But I love it just plain(and right from the bowl!) Comfort food at its best. —sboulton
In a 2 qt. saucepan, bring the milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar, the cardamom and the scraped vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the cornstarch, and the remaining sugar. Slowly pour, two tablespoons at a time, of the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly, into the egg yolk mixture until you have added about 1 cup of the hot milk. (Do not pour the entire yolk/sugar mixture into the boiling milk as it will curdle the eggs) Then pour this new milk/egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining one cup of hot milk and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a full boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer, (still whisking constantly), for about 2 minutes or until the mixture thickens.
Strain the mixture through a wire sieve into small ramekins or dessert cups of your choice (or into a large bowl if you're going to eat it all yourself!!)
Cover the surface of each serving with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to cool. (Or if you can't wait, eat it warm with your favorite spoon)