I started thinking about this problem recently while reworking an old cake recipe (coming soon!) that originally called for a package of vanilla pudding mix to be added to the batter. I didn’t want to do this, but skipping it created a notable difference in the texture of the cake. I wondered if the problem could be remedied by creating my own homemade pudding mix as a substitute.
I found a few recipes online, but the flavors were off. Most of them used nutmeg in the mix and then called for the addition of vanilla extract during the cooking. I wanted a pudding mix that, just like the boxed kind, had vanilla already in it. I realized the best way to do this would be to use whole vanilla beans. I scraped the seeds into the mix, and then cut the pods in half and dropped them in with the powder to infuse it further with pure vanilla flavor. (This is my favorite and really inexpensive source for fresh whole vanilla beans. I buy them in huge batches and store in the freezer or use to make my own extract--can't be beat!)
I can’t wait for you to try this as I know you'll love it as much as I did. Once you get the basic recipe down, you can experiment with flavors and spices and really make it your family’s own.
An added bonus? You can make dozens of servings at a mere fraction of the cost of those tiny grocery store boxes!
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DIY Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
Makes about 5 batches of pudding; 4-5 servings per batch
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 whole vanilla beans (I always buy them from this site.)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry milk, cornstarch, white sugar, and salt. Use a knife to slice down the center of the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the dry ingredients and whisk well until evenly distributed (you may need to use the back of a spoon or spatula to break up the little clumps of seeds). Cut the scraped-out vanilla beans in 2-3 pieces each, and drop into an air-tight jar or container (such as a mason jar). Pour the mixture in, seal, and shake a couple times to distribute the vanilla bean pieces. Store in a cool dry place.
To make the pudding, combine 1/2 cup of the mix with 2 cups of milk in a medium saucepan over high heat, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil (keep an eye on it because this happens quickly!), then reduce heat to a simmer and continue whisking until the mixture thickens and coats the whisk or spoon. (About 3-5 minutes). Pour in a container and let set for at least 5 minutes before serving. Can be served warm or cold.
(adapted from a recipe found on Creative Homemaking.)