April 24, 2011

Pistachio Pudding

Happy Easter! In addition to such lovely things as teeny girls in poofy dresses and a perfect excuse NOT to work on finals, Easter means something very important to me this year in particular: I get to eat sugar again! Mom (er, excuse me, the Easter Bunny) tortured me with a giant box of candy that arrived several days early, but I officially made it through. I celebrated at midnight with a decidedly disappointing Tootsie Roll: it turns out my no-processed-sugar dessert concoctions are more delicious than many sugar-laden treats. However, I did very much enjoy a stolen bite of the boy's cereal this morning. Off-brand Smacks, mmmmmm.

So, Lenten resolutions more or less fulfilled (I didn't have any official lapses, but I also didn't ask as many questions as I could have), today seems like the perfect time for a sweet treat. I actually had some trouble choosing a recipe. I wanted to make this or this, but I realized that neither of them call for any processed sugar! I'll for sure try those another day and let you know how it goes, but they just weren't right for today. Turns out, today is a pudding kind of day. Which is not a bad day, at all.

Normally, I post a day or two after making something, but not today. I wanted to get something up for Easter, but I also am well aware that I don't have the self-control to not taste while I'm cooking (also, I'm pretty sure that's how almost everyone gets kicked off of Chopped. Is that show still on?). I clearly couldn't make pudding a single minute before Lent was officially over. So this time around, we get to enjoy delicious things together! Well, kind of. In that I get to enjoy it, and you get to imagine enjoying it. Almost the same.

On the bright side, you also only have to imagine what a pain it is to pry open an entire cup of pistachios at a time.

This pistachio pudding turns out a lovely, Eater-appropriate pastel-ish green. My initial reaction upon seeing the recipe (which calls for only white sugar) was to tweak some maple syrup or agave into it, but that seemed out of the spirit of winning at Lent (that may not be the official term...). So I give you the recipe in all it's deliciously American, processed-sugar glory. The pistachio flavor is definitely present, but pretty mild. Think vanilla pudding with a twist. Five scraped-clean dishes suggest that it's a damn tasty Easter dessert. A dollop of homemade whipped cream certainly wouldn't be out of place here, but my swimsuits suggested that I keep things reasonable for now. But next time...

Ready for the fridge.
Also, possibly protected from mind readers.

Pistachio Pudding

The original says that this makes 6 servings, but I would call it 4. I did, however, leave my pistachios kind of chunky (and then strain most of them out). Thought you should know.

1 cup salted pistachios
2/3 cup white sugar, separated
1/4 cup water
2 cups milk (probably not skim. I used 2%)
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter

Run pistachios through food processor until barely chunky. Add 1/3 cup sugar and water, process until fairly smooth.

Heat pistachio paste and milk in a saucepan over medium heat until steaming, whisking occasionally. Meanwhile, mix together egg yolks, corn starch and remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Mixture will be very thick, but whisk with a fork until well-combined. 

Slowly whisk 1 cup of steaming milk mixture into the yolk mixture. Add back into the saucepan with the milk and pistachios. Whisking constantly, bring to a low boil over medium heat. Make sure to occasionally scrape the edges of the saucepan to prevent burning. Boil for about one minute, or until thickened. 

Add butter and vanilla, mixing until butter has melted. At this point, you can choose to run the pudding through a fine sieve. This serves two purposes: 1) it gets our any bits of egg that may have scrambled and 2) it gets out the chunks of pistachio. I strained mine this time, but probably won't next time. I didn't have any scrambled egg bits (and you shouldn't either, if you stir constantly), and I suspect I wouldn't mind a nuttier pudding. But if you want a smoother pudding, go ahead and strain.

Spoon into ramekins and cover with plastic wrap (make sure the wrap touches the surface of the pudding of you want to avoid a skin from forming). Refrigerate for at least four hours, and enjoy!

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