Recipe: Maple Vanilla Pudding
Twice a month, Berkshire County native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out this year.
It’s a cruel trick to stick the first day of Spring right there in the nest of March. It’s almost as if Spring would really come, truly, when the calendar calls it to do so.
On Groundhog Day, my older daughter asked me if I knew if the groundhog had seen his shadow.
“Will there be six more weeks of winter?”
“We’re in New England,” I told her. “Groundhog Day is as silly for us as the official first day of Spring. There will be a million more weeks of winter.”
But there is a little consolation prize—maple season. Because although the snow is high and the temperatures are ridiculous, there’s always enough snow to get the sap running. And when those buckets show up on every maple tree, the woods stop being so quiet, and they start to sound like melting snow. It’s a season in itself, and the result might just be the most wonderful New England product there is.
I love to use maple syrup in so many ways in my kitchen. I use it in my coffee, my granola, and in marinades and salad dressings. It’s my favorite sweetener for homemade ice cream, and there’s nothing like a drizzle of good maple syrup on plain yogurt. And lately, when we all need a little extra sweetness, I’ve been making maple vanilla pudding. It’s creamy and comforting, comes together quickly, and is the perfect way to celebrate the coming season. Not Spring, not Spring—that won’t come till May. But maple season is far more reliable.
Maple Vanilla Pudding
4 cups whole milk
¼ cup maple syrup
1 vanilla bean
½ cup cornstarch
1. Combine 3 cups of the milk with the maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean, add them to the milk, and then throw the scraped out pod into the milk as well. Heat until just steaming, stirring frequently.
2. Whisk together the cornstarch with the remaining cup of milk in a small bowl until smooth. Take the vanilla bean pod out of the milk, and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, with a wooden spoon, until the mixture starts to bubble. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir continuously until the pudding thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. If it’s a bit watery, it’s okay. It will thicken further as it chills. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.