World's Best Pudding (According to David)

Thanksgiving has come and gone though we still have turkey soup in the fridge. It was a glorious day of phenomenal food and utter gratefulness as we enjoyed a quiet day together.

David made the turkey and I did everything else. Mashed potatoes. Gravy. Roasted sweet potato and banana mash. Wild rice stuffing with roasted mushrooms and chestnuts. This later became a mushroom soup which was way better than the original dish. Neither of us were "wild" about the wild rice stuffing. Oh well.

I also made my very favorite winter vegetable dish, roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta, shallots and garlic as well as the unbelievable raw cranberry relish. And for lunch we had a puree of acorn squash, pears, ginger and fennel soup. This soup started the day off right, if I say so myself.

As you can tell, there were few but selective carbs at our dinner table. And that was planned. In doing so, I was somewhat stumped as to what to make for dessert since pie was obviously out of the question.

While making granola at the bakery one afternoon, I found this pumpkin pudding pie recipe as I was browsing through a Cooking Light magazine and decided this just might be the ticket. David loves, loves, loves pudding. Any kind of pudding. Chocolate, banana, vanilla, tapioca. And especially butterscotch, so I figured this could be an excellent replacement for pumpkin pie, which he also loves.

So it's dessert time on turkey day. He tastes it, says he loves it and eats every bite. And that was that. When we had leftovers the day after Thanksgiving and he had more pudding, he said, "This is one of the top 10 best things I have ever eaten."

Really? I paused and replayed what he had said in my mind. Then I looked at him in utter amazement and jokingly asked, "Are you serious?"

"Of course I am serious," he said. "This pudding is unbelievable."

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. I present you pumpkin pie pudding. One of the top 10 best things my husband has ever eaten. And perhaps one of the best things you'll ever eat as well.

Buen provecho!

Pumpkin Pie Pudding
The Cowgirl Gourmet ( adapted this from a Cooking Light recipe

Print recipe

While this recipe was found in Cooking Light magazine, I was a bit unsure as to how "tasty" it would be as is, so I used a combination of the fat-free milk in my fridge and a bit of heavy whipping cream to make the pudding base. It is the holidays for goodness sake! I think it was the right choice as it provided a great creaminess without a lot of fat. You could also make this by using almond milk or your choice of dairy-free product. The sugar-coated nuts really sets this dessert apart and makes it one of the "top 10 best things" my husband has ever eaten!

Serves 4

6 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups fat-free or 1% milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 large farm fresh egg
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin (canned or preferably fresh*)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
Cooking spray
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts and/or pecans
Dash of salt
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons confectioner's sugar
Fresh nutmeg and/or cinnamon for garnish, if desired

For the pudding:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 6 Tablespoons sugar and Tablespoons cornstarch. In a bowl mix together milk, cream and egg whisking until fully combined. Gradually add the milk mixture to the sugar mixture, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil. Once it boils, cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly and then remove from the heat.

Combine the pumpkin and the next 4 ingredients (vanilla, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg) in a bowl and stir well. Slowly add the pumpkin mixture to the milk mixture, whisking constantly. Place pan over low heat and cook for 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. You need to stir this constantly and it should not boil.

Divide pudding evenly among 4 dessert bowls or ramekins and cover the surface of the pudding with plastic wrap (so a "skin" does not form), unless you like the skin. Chill.

For the nuts:
Lightly spray a small piece of aluminum foil with Pam or other cooking spray. In a small nonstick saucepan place 3 Tablespoons sugar, chopped walnuts or pecans and a dash of salt and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves and is golden (about 3 minutes), stirring frequently to coat nuts with the melted sugar. When the sugar is melted and thoroughly coats the nuts, place the coated nuts on the prepared aluminum foil and cool completely.

For the whipped cream:
Place cream in a bowl and beat with a mixer at high speed until it thickens slightly. Then add 2 Tablespoons confectioner's sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Top each serving of pudding with a big dollop of whipped cream and about 1 Tablespoon (or more) glazed nuts. Garnish with a pinch of cinnamon and/or freshly ground nutmeg if desired.
*To make your own pumpkin, just buy a sugar pie pumpkin, cut it in half, remove the seeds and place cut-side down on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the pumpkin is soft. After the pumpkin cools, remove the pumpkin flesh from the skin. Almost as easy as opening a can of pumpkin but tastes way better!
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