Rich Custard for Maya (with Variations)

This recipe, which seems too simple to be so delicious, has always been an integral part of my Strawberry Trifle recipe. But my daughter Maya asked me to list it separately, so it’s easier and quicker to find. So here you go, Maya!  

1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
5 cups whole milk
4 eggs, well beaten in a medium sized bowl
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla

Blend sugar, salt, cornstarch and whole milk in a large saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil stirring constantly. Once the custard reaches the boil, remove from heat and add 1 cup to the eggs in the bowl, stirring vigorously so the eggs don’t cook. Add another cup of milk mix to the eggs, and continue stirring.

Return the whole thing to the saucepan and put back on medium/low heat. Heat for 1-2 minutes until the custard is just starting to bubble a little. Don’t leave it for a second at this point or it will curdle. Remove from heat and add in vanilla. Let cool before adding to trifle dish.  It will thicken as it cools

This recipe also makes a lovely pouring custard. Just add another cup of milk. We don’t eat pouring custard much in the US, but it’s delicious dessert sauce. Just a bowl of fresh fruit with pouring custard poured over – simple and wonderful.

This Vanilla custard is delicious as part of a Strawberry Trifle.  

Variation #1  Mango Trifle with Cardamom Custard 

Variation #2 for Chocolate Custard:  skip the Vanilla, add a generous 1/3 cup cocoa to the sugar and cornstarch, and pour in a little of the milk. Stir well until the cocoa is completely mixed in.  We didn’t increase the sugar and it tasted fine.   See my Chocolate Raspberry Trifle.



Orange-Apricot Buttermilk “Pudding”

We bought fat-free half and half by accident, and had some buttermilk left over and I wondered if there might be a recipe for a buttermilk pudding where I could use both up.  I found one online from Garrett McCord, and tried it as an experiment.

I made the recipe pretty much the same as his, but at the very end, I threw in a large spoonful of Orange-Apricot Marmalade from Sarabeth.  Then it was off to the fridge.

Success!  A light, creamy gelatin-based pudding that’s slightly sweet but with tangy notes of orange, apricot and buttermilk.

2 tsp unflavored gelatin
2 Tbsp water
1 cup half n half (fat-free works if you’ve accidentally bought some!)
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp orange-apricot marmalade (or apricot jam and orange marmalade)

Mix the gelatin and water in a bowl. Let set. It will thicken but that’s okay.

In a saucepan, heat half n half and sugar, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is starting to bubble just a bit. Remove from heat, and pour about a 1/2 cup into the gelatin mixture. Stir well, then add back to pan.

Add buttermilk, vanilla and marmalade. Stir well and pour into a glass dish. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight, until the gelatin is nice and firm. There may be bits of orange zest or apricot in it, but we didn’t mind them at all.

This makes a very nice, light dessert that would even be good for company. You could dress it up by garnishing it with fresh fruit like raspberries, or diced mangoes, and a drizzle of honey.  Would be really good for a summer dinner party in the backyard.

In hindsight, I wish I’d poured the pudding into smaller bowls, which would have been prettier. Also, Garrett uses heavy cream instead of half n half.

Kir (Rice pudding)

There are so many different ways of making Kir.  It can be very soupy, or quite thick.  It can be plain, or garnished with almonds, pistachios and raisins. I learned this recipe form my mother-in-law Shamim in Karachi, and it’s a great dish for large groups, because it makes a lot.  It is also called Phirni.

We took it most recently to an international dinner at my daughter Maya’s high school.  That was an amazing dinner –  her school is really diverse and the food was so good.   I also took some to a Unitarian Eid lunch one year. One of my friends who is Indian said it tasted just like her Grandmother’s recipe.

1 1/3 cup basmati rice, rinsed, dried and ground
8 green cardamoms, ground
2 Tbsp ground pistachios
Rose Essence (optional, but it gives a lovely floral scent) (1/2 tsp or to taste)
7 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar

Grind dry rice and cardamoms in a food processor or mortar and pestle. I use a coffee grinder we keep for spices that gets it really finely ground.

Add ground rice and cardamoms to a large pot and add 6 3/4 cup of the milk. Stir well, and cook over a medium/low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rest of the milk, pistachios, sugar and rosewater and cook 2 more minutes.

The kir should thicken up as it chills, but will still be quite soupy when warm. Pour into small bowls, (little unglazed clay bowls are traditional) and chill well. Before serving, garnish with more chopped pistachios, and if you want to give it the full monty; rose petals.

Note: Watch the heat carefully when you are cooking the milk. Don’t let it scorch!

Pudding Cake

This recipe uses cake mix, and instant pudding mix.  I am not a great baker, so I never shy away from cake mixes.  When this bakes, it forms a lovely moist cake just swimming in delicious pudding sauce.  A great treat for once in a while.

1 package cake mix, mixed according to the label directions.
(May require eggs, water and oil.)

2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups water
2 4 oz. packages of instant pudding mix
1/3 cup sugar
powdered sugar for sprinkling on just before serving.

Mix the cake mix and pour it into a large baking pan. Mix the water, milk, pudding mix and sugar and pour over the cake mix.

Put the baking dish on a cookie sheet, and bake at 350 for about an hour. Let cool slightly, and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm and refrigerate leftovers.

The fun in this dessert is that you can do some interesting combinations. Try spice cake and pumpking pudding, or lemon cake and lemon pudding (one of our favorites.) Of course you can always do chocolate cake and chocolate pudding, or branch out into something adventurous and try white cake with pistachio pudding. It’s delish!

Blanc Mange

From Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book.  A crazy simple pudding that I used to make in Karachi when Kumy and I were hungry for a treat.  For some reason it became our go-to treat when we were watching movies.

2/3 cup sugar
6 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups milk

Mix well in a saucepan, then bring to a boil on medium heat. Stir constantly, and watch or it will scorch!

Boil gently for one minute, then remove from heat and add

3 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter


Rice Custard

I have a thing for puddings – especially old-fashioned ones.  When Kumy and I were living in Karachi, one of our treats was to have Blanc Mange (White Food) out of the old Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook circa 1960 which oddly both his and my mother had. I’d make Blanc Mange, an incredibly simple vanilla pudding and we’d curl up with warm pudding and watch movies.

This is another really simple, yet delicious pudding that is hardly served anymore – but it should be.

4 eggs
1 cup sugar  (can use 3/4 cup if you don’t like it too sweet)
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
fresh nutmeg – a dusting
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Mix all but the rice and raisins in a medium-sized oven-proof bowl. Gently fold in the rice and raisins. Put the bowl in a larger metal bowl, with water coming halfway up the sides. Bake at 350 for one hour.