Give me my Bonus or Give me Death: Notes on Pudding

9 May

When I was about three or four years old, I overheard my parents talking about my dad’s job and salary.   I surely was not paying attention to the course of the conversation; when they mentioned the word “bonus,” I immediately assumed that they were talking about pudding. 

I cannot explain why the word bonus evoked thoughts of pudding in my mind, but it did.  Strangely enough, though, this mis-identification has become an important theme in my life recently. 

Coming home knowing that there is a bowl of pudding in the refrigerator is just as if not more comforting than anticipating a roaring fire and a hot cup of tea on a cold winter day.  Whether a giant vat of chocolate, butterscotch, or vanilla pudding; a moist bread pudding; a steamed pudding, or even a trifle, there is nothing better.

Pudding does not judge–it is ambiguous in quantity and therefore has no definite portion size.  It does not threaten to run out–a bowl of pudding is less a contained amount than a bottomless pit of a magical elixir, seemingly proliferous.  Also, it is the perfect midnight snack–grab a spoon and dig in at any hour.

An easy basic custard recipe is what I have been riffing on for the past few months.  A couple of egg yolks mixed with sugar, cornstarch, milk, cream, and butter seems to always work in my favor.

My more recent pudding ventures have included a “banofudding”–homage to the banoffee pie.  Layers of vanilla pudding, bananas, dulce de leche, and graham cracker crumbs were delicious topped with whipped cream. 

The last pudding I made, though, was extreme.  I called it “butterscotch,” but it was in fact much more than that.  I used a higher proportion of cream to milk, added peanutbutter and brown butter and then a couple shots of scotch.  I layered the pudding with Captain Crunch and then topped it with a last minute curried meringue.  Since the cereal got a little chewey, I would definitely try making it into crumbs first next time, but the whole pudding was delicious. 

I have had success with honey pudding (my secret specialty); chocolate-bourbon pudding; coffee-lemon rice pudding; and more.  I absolutely love steamed puddings, so I’ll have to get on that, but for now I am infatuated.

It must have been no coincidence that I mistook the word bonus for pudding as a child.  Pudding is more of a bonus than anyone could wish for–especially in this economy.  No matter what happens with the crappy market, there will always be bountiful bonuses in my house, just as long as I have a whisk, a pot, eggs, milk, cornstarch, and sugar!

cranberry almond bread pudding

cranberry almond bread pudding


One Response to “Give me my Bonus or Give me Death: Notes on Pudding”

  1. Nana May 15, 2009 at 8:56 pm #

    I so enjoyed your article on puddings. My Mom made the best homemade puddings and custards ever. Your story took me back on a pleasant journey down memory lane. Anything that reminds you of home and childhood makes for a wonderful day.

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