Every once in a while, I have an idea that gets me really excited. And I mean REALLY excited. On a 6 hour drive from Atlanta to Chapel Hill, making this vanilla chai pudding was at the back of my mind. The wait was well worth it. This pudding is the definition of smooth. It is the Miles Davis of the pudding world.
One of the marvels of cooking is how well all of the ingredients and techniques come together to make something special. It is like a physical reminder that these ideas have been tempered and perfected by time. A sensorial history that involves taste, smell, touch, sight, and even hearing.
Pudding is a prime example of this precision. Whether our pudding forefathers knew this or not, pudding creation is a very precise thing. Consider that to maximize the gelling potential of starches heats of about 190 degrees must be obtained. However, eggs coagulate and curdle well before this heat occurs. These two ingredients are necessary for the pudding, but don’t work well together as is.
Now let’s say we add half a cup of sugar to the mix. The sugar raises the curdling point of the eggs allowing higher heat gains to be possible. The starch further boosts the curdling temperature. Now we have eggs. This temperature increase may not be enough to fully gelatinize (activate) the starch, but this is not necessary because the proteins in eggs also help gel the pudding. Thus we have multiple ingredients and processes all coming together to form one amazing pudding.
1 ½ cup of milk
½ cup of cream
4 tsp of masala chai leaves (4 servings worth)
½ cup of sugar (divided)
2 tsp of vanilla extract
5 tsp of cornstarch
3 egg yolks
- Combine milk, cream, chai leaves, and ¼ cup of sugar in a medium pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. When a simmer is reached, take the pot off of the stove.
- Beat egg yolks, ¼ cup of sugar, vanilla extract, and cornstarch in a medium, heat proof bowl.
- Temper the egg mixture into the cream pot: While beating, slowly pour about 1/3 of the milk mixture into the egg mixture. Then while stirring, slowly pour the egg-milk mixture into the main milk pot.
- Heat this pan on medium low until thickened. Remember to constantly stir the pot. The pudding should coat the back of the spoon. Another way to determine if it is done is to dip a spoon into the pudding. Then use your finger to make a line on the back of the spoon. If the line remains in the spoon (ie. None of the pudding drips to cover up the line) then the pudding is ready. DO NOT OVERHEAT.
- Strain the mixture into a bowl. Then refrigerate for about 3 hours or until cool. Cover the top with plastic to avoid pudding skin formation.
4 servings- each serving is about half a cup.