Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Pudding Parfaits

I have taken some good natured teasing about some of my Halloween dishes. The mere picture of my Chicken Scary-aki, for instance, is rumored to have sent grown men screaming from the room. I don't think my vampire cupcake sent anyone into a panic, but you never know.

So for Halloween this year, I tried to come up with something a little less gruesome. It seemed to me that Halloween was always a very busy late afternoon and evening at our house when I was growing up. Preparing the candy ready for the trick-or-treaters, feeding everyone, getting costumes on. There was the inevitable argument about not wearing a coat or hat that would spoil the costume and then friends usually joined us for the big house-to-house event, so guests added a whole other dimension to Halloween night.

The point is, that unless you're fabulously organized, Halloween might be a bit of a rush in your household, too. So I tried to come up with something that can be made rather quickly, and the result is a Halloween Pudding Parfait. I really love the colors. I think they're pretty enough to offer to adults at a Halloween dinner party, and who doesn't love pudding?

If you're not inclined to make your own pudding, I think you could accomplish this with ready made pudding, food coloring and whipped cream. It shouldn't take long to assemble them. They look best in a V-shaped glass, like these parfaits, but really, you can use any shape glass. I do recommend using one with a rather wide mouth, though. A tulip champagne glass, for instance, would be very pretty, but you would have to pipe everything into the glasses, which would eat up time. As it is, I piped the whipped cream into the bottoms because they were too narrow for a spoon. But I spooned the rest in.

Use your finger to mash each layer down a little bit. I have air holes in my first ones. They don't matter of course, but they're prettier without them. I'm including my favorite chocolate and vanilla pudding recipes, but feel free to use your favorites, whether they are homemade or from a mix.

You could easily substitute an orange layer for the gold layer that I have, or skip the chocolate (did I hear gasps?) and go with traditional orange, yellow and white like candy corn.

I loved the pictures of Tonka and the Maffini princesses in their costumes, pained expressions and all. I figured it was time a feline showed up in costume. I don't think Mochie minded the mouse hat so much but he thought it was undignified for a cat to pretend to be a mouse. Felines!

Chocolate Pudding
(modified from Have Your Cake and Eat It Too, by Susan G. Purdy

2 cups nonfat milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons unsweetened powdered cocoa
1/4 cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 - 2 tablespoons butter

1. Pour the milk into a Pyrex measuring cup.

2. Combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in the pot. Whisk together and get rid of any lumps. Use the whisk like a spoon, it’s just more efficient in breaking up the lumps.

3. Pour the cold milk into the pot and whisk until blended.

(Note that you still haven't turned on the stove!)

4. Measure the corn syrup in the same Pyrex cup. Add to the pot and whisk in.

5. Turn the burner to medium high and bring to a gentle boil, using the whisk as a spoon and stirring. You may need to turn down the heat when it begins to bubble. Cook so it gently bubbles, stirring with the whisk for one minute. It will thicken.

6. Remove from heat temporarily.

7. Break the egg into the same Pyrex cup and whisk with a small whisk (or a fork).

Drop a tiny amount of the hot milk mixture into the egg and whisk immediately to temper it. Add a little bit more and whisk. (This is so the egg won’t seize up and cook when it’s added to the warm liquid.)

8. Add the egg to the milk mixture and whisk in.

9. Bring to a gentle boil again and let cook for one minute, stirring the whole time.

10. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and the butter.

1234 Vanilla Pudding
1 egg
2 cups of skim or non-fat milk
1/3 cup sugar (if you're watching sugar, you can take out a teaspoon or two)
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
dash of salt
turmeric (roughly 3/4 teaspoon) or food coloring

Place the corn starch, sugar, and dash of salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Using a whisk, mix the dry ingredients. Pour the cold milk over the dry ingredients and, still using the whisk, blend them.  (You're not using the whisk to whisk, just to blend and stir.)  Crack the egg into the empty milk measuring cup and whisk (if you don't have a tiny whisk, use a fork) thoroughly.  

Turn on the burner to medium high.  Stir the milk mixture with the whisk to be sure the mixture doesn't burn.  You may need to turn the heat back a bit when it begins to bubble.  Stirring the whole time, let bubble softly for one minute.  Remove from heat.  

Drop a few drops of the hot mixture into the egg and whisk.  Add a few more drops and whisk again to temper the egg.  Add the egg to the milk mixture and whisk to blend.  Stirring continuously, add the turmeric until it's the shade you want, bring it back to a gentle boil and cook for one minute.

Remove from heat.  Add vanilla and butter and stir to mix.

Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat the cream. When it begins to take shape, add the sugar and the vanilla. Beat until it holds a shape.

candy corn

Pipe or spoon whipped cream into the bottom of each glass. 

Spoon vanilla pudding in, pressing down gently to mash out air holes Spoon chocolate pudding on top. Garnish with candy corn if desired.