By Bill Daley, Tribune Newspapers
August 8, 2012
Alice Medrich, a baker and teacher living in Berkeley, Calif., uses this egg-free vanilla pudding as a tart filling topped with a dried cherry compote in her book "Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts" (Artisan, $25.95). You may use a sauce made with fresh cherries instead, or garnish with fresh fruit and, perhaps, a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
Medrich uses Tahitian vanilla in the pudding for its "exotic flavor and nuances of cherry," she writes. You may substitute Mexican or Bourbon vanilla for the Tahitian, or use a vanilla bean: Heat the milk and cream with a whole vanilla bean until steaming hot, cover and let steep 15 minutes. Remove the bean, set aside and proceed with the recipe. You can also serve this pudding without the tart shell, plain or dressed up in a parfait.
Tahitian vanilla pudding
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 26 minutes
Chill: 3 hours
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure Tahitian vanilla
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons flour
For the filling:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups half-and-half
2 teaspoons Tahitian vanilla
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. For the crust, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl. Add flour; mix just until well-blended. If the dough seems too soft and gooey, let it stand for a few minutes to firm up.
2. Press the dough in a thin, even layer over the bottom and up the sides of a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough squarely into the corners of the pan to avoid extra-thick edges. (Crust may be prepared 2 or 3 days ahead, wrapped and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.)
3. Place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake until the crust is fully golden brown, 20-25 minutes. If the crust puffs up during baking, gently press it down with the back of a fork and prick it a few times. Cool crust on a rack.
4. Meanwhile, make the filling. Whisk the sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a heavy medium saucepan. Add about 3 tablespoons of the half-and-half; whisk to form a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining half-and-half. Using a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping the bottom, sides and corners of the pan, until the pudding thickens and begins to bubble at the edges, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook and stir, 1 more minute. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.
5.Scrape the hot pudding into the crust. Level with a spatula. Let cool, 1 hour; refrigerate tart at least 2 hours to allow the pudding to set. Cover the tart once the filling is set.
Nutrition information: Per serving: 307 calories, 19 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 53 mg cholesterol, 31 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 136 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.
-- Bill Daley, Tribune Newspapers