May 22 is National Vanilla Pudding Day. Vanilla pudding is a delicious creamy dessert that has been around since the 19th century. Most culinary historians say that our modern recipe evolved from custards. A custard is a variety of culinary preparations based on a cooked mixture of milk or cream and egg yolk. Depending on how much egg or thickener is used, custard may vary in consistency from a thin pouring sauce to a thick pastry cream used to fill éclairs. Most common custards are used as desserts or dessert sauces and typically include sugar and vanilla. Custard bases may also be used for quiches and other savory foods. Sometimes flour, corn starch, or gelatin is added as in pastry cream.
Custard is usually cooked in a double boiler, or heated very gently in a saucepan on a stove, though custard can also be steamed, baked in the oven with or without a water bath, or even cooked in a pressure cooker.
Jell-O introduced its first line of instant pudding in the 1950s. The new product was promoted as a “busy-day dessert.” The newer type of pudding consists of sugar, milk, and a thickening agent such as cornstarch, gelatin, eggs, rice or tapioca to create a sweet, creamy dessert.
Creamy puddings are typically served chilled, but some may be served warm. Instant puddings do not require boiling and can therefore be prepared more quickly.
To celebrate National Vanilla Pudding Day, you can make some delicious homemade vanilla pudding from scratch or from a convenient instant mix. To spruce up the vanilla pudding, eat it with fresh fruit or chocolate.