In theory, coconut pudding sounds heavenly. But in reality, it is usually nothing more than vanilla pudding with some imitation coconut flavoring stirred in, and maybe a few sweetened flakes tossed on top. But the theory is still enticing, and so I set out to concoct a pudding that would prove the premise true. By replacing half the milk and cream with coconut milk, tossing in a vanilla bean, and mixing in dried coconut and white chocolate, a simple heaven is found. Eureka! —robinbeth
Using a small sharp knife, slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds from the pod with the knife tip into a 2 quart saucepan. Add the dried coconut, cornstarch, sugar, and salt into the pan and whisk together. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is evenly blended and there are no lumps.
Over medium heat, slowly whisk in the heavy cream and coconut milk (make sure the coconut milk is well mixed before measuring, as it often separates in the can). Drop in the vanilla pod. Continue to stir briskly until the pudding thickens. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir for another two minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in white chocolate. Immediately pour pudding into a bowl or individual cups, pulling out the vanilla pod. Sprinkle a little extra dried coconut on top. Press plastic wrap directly upon the pudding surface to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours or up to a couple of days.