Eggnog chocolate pudding.

Three days before Christmas, can you believe it? Where did the fall go? Are you ready for these next few days? I think I lost a few months somewhere, and I really should be packing in some last-minute holiday shopping, but instead I’m sitting in my new living room, listening to the rain against my window and the dishwasher – no sweeter music than the sound of your first dishwasher cleaning dishes you’d otherwise be scrubbing on Saturday – and the cat and baby batting ornaments off the tree. We are festive, sort of.

Whisking.

Pudding

The baby is more festive than the rest of us, and he has taken to holiday eating with vigor and enthusiasm. No truffle, cookie or eggnog escapes his sticky grasp, and I’ve stepped in crumbs and smears and tacky patches of floor all over the apartment – his theory seems to be that if he can’t see you, then you can’t know what snack he’s stolen. With his reach he’s just shy of three feet tall, but he can get at anything, and has not figured out yet that his silence works against him – he’s only quiet when he’s up to no good. That goes for all of us, but I am not big on self-discipline.

He loves eggnog, and since introducing him to it we have found it challenging to get him to drink anything else. But he is starting to understand the concept of dessert, and that if he endures his bowl of broccoli and carrots, there might be something sweet in it for him. And so, on occasion we throw him a bowl of something sugary and then there is no happier person in the world. Last night, after a day of squishy stomach and bouts of whining, I made him a bowl of eggnog pudding, warm and creamy and exactly what a little boy needs after a big bowl of mushy green despair. I gave him a taste as he crawled by while I was making it, and he scaled the cupboards and tried desperately to climb up my leg for more.

A taste.

 

MOAR PLS.

This recipe is the easiest thing in the world, but it is very rough – the eggnog I buy is very sweet, so I have never had to add sugar. Sweeten to your taste with maple syrup, if you have it, or a bit of brown sugar if you prefer. If your baby can hold his liquor, a tablespoon of rum or bourbon is very nice.

Yes do want.

Chocolate eggnog pudding

  • 2 cups eggnog (not light or reduced fat)
  • 4 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 tbsp. spiced dark rum (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp. butter

In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, whisk together half a cup of the eggnog and cornstarch until a slurry forms and no lumps remain, then add the cocoa, whisking again, before adding the remaining eggnog, rum, and vanilla. Maintain medium heat, and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens until just bubbling – don’t bring to a rolling boil (or you’ll end up with a gross scrambly egg pudding which ew). Once mixture has thickened – it should coat the back of a spoon – remove from heat, season with salt, and whisk in butter. Pour into four ramekins, cover with plastic, and cool until set, 1 to 2 hours.

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! I hope your next few days are warm and delicious.

Eggnog chocolate pudding

Errbody loves pudding.

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A maple-scented pudding and a quiet moment alone.

It’s finally quiet, except for the squeak-bark of some cat-infuriating miniature dog or giant rodent on its leash and squatting beneath the wilted rhododendron bush beside the street. Nick is out for a nerdy night of board games with his friends. The baby is sleeping. I have sent out all the resumés I feel like sending out for today, and am no longer wearing pants (as is my preference). There are dried smears of yogurt and vegetable purée all over everything including the washable high chair I keep not washing, but I am not going to let that be my problem. That is why I have Nick.

We are spending a lot of time together now that neither of us is required at an office every day, and though the ratio of arms to babies is now 4:1, I’m still finding myself busy most of the time. There are cover letters to write and my resumé to tweak for each job application. Every time I click “submit” or “send” on some application I panic that I accidentally typed the bad words I’m always thinking, or that I used the wrong homonym, or that I spelled the word “editor” with two Ds.

There are meals to make: minimally spiced purées for the baby and interestingly spiced lunches and dinners for the diabetic, who answers “I’m not really excited about that” to most of what I suggest we eat. We keep producing dirty laundry. I spend a lot of time shaving my legs in case someone calls for a last-minute interview and there’s no time to find or buy pantyhose. I always have to go to the store.

But when there is no one around to bug me, I eat pudding.

The surest way to ensure that no one else touches my pudding is to make it with tapioca.

Stirring a sweet-smelling pot of goo can be relaxing, helping to erase the little panics and trifles that so often take up the days. The goo will burble softly, in a way that is wholly unlike something tedious like oatmeal or hot cereal (which splatters and plops and lacks euphony). You can make pudding for other people, and sometimes I do, but a small amount of pudding is the sort of easy indulgence that suits a night alone, in a room barely lit by a lamp in the corner that’s just bright enough to read a book beside.

The tapioca pudding recipe I like to use is at Simply Recipes, though once you make it the recipe will stick in your head forever (it’s that easy). I don’t know enough people who like tapioca pudding to have ever made a full batch, so I can tell you that a half-batch works quite nicely – it will make enough to fill four ramekins or two soup bowls (I always eat one serving warm, and then another much later after it’s been in the fridge for awhile).

I am not going to bother reprinting the recipe here as it’s all right there, but I will tell you that I make a few changes.

  • Instead of white sugar, I use maple syrup, and rather than add it after the pot comes to a boil, I add it at the beginning. It’s less sweet this way, but more complex. If you don’t have maple syrup, use honey, or brown sugar.
  • At the end, rather than add a drop of vanilla extract, I like a scrape of half of one vanilla bean.

When you are making something that is just for you, use good ingredients (tapioca costs so little anyway) – you will be more inclined to savour if you use the good stuff, and it will be the good kind of eating alone (there is a bad kind of eating alone, which I also enjoy, but for that just use the cheap stuff).

This is a good for-now recipe, for while we’re still not into the abundant-fruit season. Do you realize that in just a few short weeks and we’ll be having conversations like this one over lightly sugared local strawberries? And reading our books in patches of summer sunlight. I can’t wait.