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From Scratch: Stir your way to perfect pudding

JULIE FALSETTI
YorkDispatch

"If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding!" Those of a certain age might remember these Pink Floyd lyrics and have visions of a bowl of creamy dessert held aloft just out of reach.

However, in British English, "pudding" is the general term for any sweet served after dinner.

The American version of pudding is my go-to pantry dessert. That is, I usually have all of the ingredients on hand to make the recipe.

It's fast and easy — and depending on how it's served, it can be simple or elegant. It also makes a great school lunch treat.

In the supermarket I see rows and rows of pre-packaged puddings in plastic containers. In addition to all of the artificial ingredients in the pudding itself, the idea of millions of those little plastic tubs ending up in the landfill really bothers me.

To make your own "pudding snack pack," buy some reusable 4-ounce plastic containers (such as GladWare).

Because the preparation is straightforward, your children can make the pudding if you are pressed for time.

For a fancy dessert, get out your best crystal dishes and top the pudding with whipped cream and chopped pecans.

The recipe below can be doubled, if you like.

For an extra rich pudding, use the half and half.

Chocolate Pudding

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa

dash salt

1/3 cup warm water

1 3/4 cups milk or half-and-half

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup milk or half-and-half

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

In a medium-size pot, combine the sugar, cocoa, salt and warm water and stir until blended. Place the pot over a medium flame and stir in the 1 3/4 cups milk or half-and-half and heat slowly.

Combine the cornstarch with the remaining milk or half-and-half and gradually stir into the cocoa mixture.

Stirring constantly, cook until the pudding thickens. It usually takes about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Chill before serving.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.