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When I think back to this time last year I think mainly of two things; sweet, sweet relief at my exams being over and my nutrition degree finally finished; and, pudding. The last semester of my degree, certainly the final push, was largely fueled by pudding. Not this pudding exactly, but a similar pudding, one that I made so often I had the recipe and technique committed to memory and could pull it together on one study break and have it chilling in the fridge to snarf down on the next one. I hadn’t made pudding since graduating last year, but recently when I came into a liter of organic whole milk, it was the first thing that popped into my mind.

This pudding is all goodness. It is built from milk, honey, a vanilla bean, some cornstarch, and an egg is whisked in at the end for extra protein and richness. This is the kind of thing I refer to as a weeknight dessert; it isn’t heavy, or too rich, or too terribly sweet. In fact, like many things I make for weekday consumption it teeters on the edge of just barely sweet at all. You can change it up as you see fit. Don’t have whole milk? I’ve made this with 1 and 2% milk and it turns out, while slightly less rich, just fine. Like your pudding a little sweeter? Go for it.

Milk and Honey Pudding Recipe:

You may have an opinion about how thin or thick you like pudding to be. This one is fairly thin and jiggly. If you like a thicker pudding, adjust the amount of corn starch accordingly. This particular pudding held it’s gel for only a couple of days, and then the leftovers became a sort of delicious honey vanilla sauce. I believe this is due to enzymes in the honey acting on the gel structure in a way that sugar would not. It isn’t a big deal and won’t affect the taste, but be forewarned that this is a consume within about a day kind of a deal, if you don’t want your pudding to eventually liquefy.

Serves 4 as 1 cup servings, or more as smaller servings.

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1 liter organic whole milk, divided

1/4 cup honey

4 Tbsp corn starch

1/2 vanilla bean OR 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

1 egg

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Combine 3 1/2 cups of milk with the honey in a large pot, and set it over medium heat.

Slice your vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds out with the back side of a knife; place them in a large bowl, and toss the empty pod in with the milk and honey. In the same bowl with the vanilla seeds, whisk the corn starch and remaining milk into a smooth paste, then whisk the egg in as well.

Once the milk and honey has come to a boil, remove from heat and pour it very slowly into the bowl with the cornstarch and egg, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the egg. Once combined, pour the pudding mix back into the pot and return to the heat.

Stir the pudding constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon until it just barely reaches a boil. The pudding should thicken in this time enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, and pour the pudding into a bowl or into several small bowls, and set in the fridge to cool. If you don’t like pudding skin then you can place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent it. Chill for a few hours, or until you can’t wait anymore, and then enjoy.

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Know what you’re eating: what’s good about this? Cow’s milk, for those who don’t have trouble digesting it, is a great source of locally available, low-cost, high quality protein. Milk is a great source of iodine, calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and phosphorus. Eggs are an amazing source of high quality protein, vitamin B12, choline (important for your brain), carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Eggs are satiating; a study found that those eating  a low fat diet which included 2 eggs a day for breakfast lost nearly *twice* as much weight as those eating a bagel breakfast with the same calories and mass, with no increase in blood cholesterol levels. Honey is a beautiful natural sweetener which has antioxidant and antifungal properties. Did you know honey has been used as athletic fuel and as a healing agent for thousands of years? Be mindful of a couple of things: first, your honey is only as good as the plants providing the pollen. Don’t skimp on honey, buy the good quality locally produced stuff. Second, calories are still calories. Honey is a great alternative to sugar, but it is a sweetener no less. Again, we need to moderate.

Do ahead: This pudding can be made ahead of time and allowed to chill for several hours or overnight. I don’t recommend you make it two days in advance, as the gel doesn’t hold very well.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2012

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