The Wonderful World of Pudding Desserts
Ah, pudding, that wonderfully thick, cool, creamy sweet treat that comes in a variety of flavors, plus it’s so versatile that it can even be used in other recipes. Many of us have fond memories of eating chocolate pudding growing up, and sometimes we even had those little pudding packs in our lunch boxes as a fun surprise. However, pudding, as we know it today, has come a long way from its roots, so let’s take a look at how one of our favorite dessert foods came to be, the evolution it’s gone through to become the pudding we know and love, and some of our favorite pudding varieties.
The History of Pudding
Even though it’s called pudding, what Americans know as pudding today is more closely related to a custard, which is made with a base of sweetened milk, cheese, or cream that is cooked with either egg or egg yolks to get it to thicken; sometimes, flour, corn starch, or gelatin is added for thickness as well. The history of custard goes just as far back as a pudding with Roman roots, and both somehow seemed to cross paths enough with pudding in America during the 19th century.
Britain claims to have the first recorded pudding recipes, and they’re nowhere close to the custard-like pudding we know today. Their puddings, which date back to around the 17th century, were either savory and made with sausages or other meats, or they were sweet and made with just flour, sugar, and nuts boiled in a special pudding bag.
However, by the time the latter half of the 18th century rolled around, traditional English puddings didn’t have meat in them anymore, and by the 19th century, they began to take on more of a cakey consistency. Modern-day steam puddings take after these recipes, and puddings like this, such as Plum Pudding, are still a Christmas tradition in Britain.
Just about everyone’s favorite pudding today is classic chocolate; the earliest mention of chocolate pudding goes back to the year 1730, while thick, creamy chocolate custard came in around the 19th century. Both were enjoyed by the wealthy and elite, but during the latter part of the 19th century, some American food companies and folks involved in social reform wanted to market pudding as healthy food, thus the line between pudding and custard blurred.
Pudding was specifically marketed toward children and those who couldn’t care for themselves as an easy, nutritional food option. While chocolate pudding might not exactly be the healthiest option, there are some healthy puddings out there, rice pudding being one of these varieties.
Pudding As We Know It
Today, we enjoy pudding as a snack and a dessert option, and the flavors and recipes are seemingly endless. When you walk down the aisles of your local grocery store, you’re bound to find boxed varieties of pudding mixes that come in an array of flavors, but you can also find pudding cups that come in multipacks and variety packs so you can have pudding any time you want it without having to make it.
However, there are also other kinds of pudding to consider besides ready-made and quick and easy fixes. Bread pudding is a good example of this; bread pudding is a bread-based dessert made with milk or cream, normally eggs, and some sort of fat like oil, butter, or suet, and depending on where you’re from or your preferences, bread pudding can be either sweet or savory.
Mousse, although similar to pudding, isn’t the same thing. Mousse is made by folding beaten egg whites or whipped cream into a base of cold milk and sugar, leading to a less dense, fluffy dessert. Also, unlike pudding, mousse isn’t cooked.
Some of the Most Popular Pudding Dessert Variations
When it comes to pudding in modern-day America, it’s fair to say that just about everyone has a preference as to which pudding is their favorite. While most will say that chocolate or vanilla is their all-time favorite, there are so many other flavors and pudding desserts out there that will satisfy just about any sweet tooth.
Aside from chocolate or vanilla, one of the most popular pudding desserts is a good old-fashioned, homemade banana pudding. Banana pudding as we know it is normally made with a base of vanilla or banana flavored pudding, vanilla wafers, freshly sliced bananas, and either whipped cream or meringue topping.
If you’re looking for a healthier pudding, Chia pudding is a healthier pudding dessert option that is made with Chia seeds, milk (almond, soy, your choice), and a sweetener of your choice. This pudding packs in protein, fiber, and healthy fats; so it’s not only sweet and satisfying but also good for you.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Originating in Britain and popular in Australia and New Zealand, this pudding is made with a moist sponge cake, finely chopped dates, and then it’s covered in a toffee sauce. Most often, it’s served with vanilla custard or ice cream.
If you want to take your pudding to the next level as an even cooler sweet treat, then consider freezing it! Put the plain pudding into popsicle makers, or the old-fashioned way with a paper cup and a popsicle stick, and then freeze it into a popsicle for a portable, cool treat on a hot summer day.
Plum Pudding, aka Christmas Pudding
Traditionally made and served in the UK at Christmas time, Plum Pudding began as “plum pottage” or “plum stew,” and it was originally made with mutton or beef, onions, root vegetables, and dried fruits, then thickened with bread crumbs and flavored with spices and wine. Nowadays, it’s typically made with bread crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and fruit juice.
Rice pudding is made with rice, water, or milk, and other ingredients such as cinnamon, raisins, vanilla, and sweeteners of choice if desired. A healthier alternative than some other puddings, rice pudding can be boiled or baked.
Pudding started as something completely different, and by the time it reached America, it began coming together as the pudding we know and love today. There are many other varieties of pudding desserts out there, so we hope that this has encouraged you to check them out as well!