We never made pudding from scratch as a child. Boxed mixes and convenience foods were mixed in with homemade dishes, and pudding was one of those firmly over in the box mix & chill category. I loved how simple it was to make because I could create it on my own with just some cold milk. Pistachio was my favorite then, and I’m not even going to go into the pregnancy craving I had involving double the pudding mix and half the liquid (oh yeah, it was like eating glue…delicious, delicious glue). As an adult, I’ve wanted to experiment with some of these staples, and coupled with my absolute love of apple cider, this recipe for Apple Cider Pudding with Spiced Whipped Cream was born.
Choosing the Right Milk
Normally I suggest ways to make my recipes vegetarian or vegan, and a common way is using plant-based milk. In this case, though, I do not suggest using an alternate milk type. Using these alternates means your pudding will be too thin and may not set correctly.
Because I am using apple cider as part of the liquid in this recipe, and it is thinner than milk, I do suggest sticking to half and half as the dairy component. They balance one another out, fat-wise, to get a good ratio for the pudding.
Avoiding Lumps in your Apple Cider Pudding
Lumpy pudding is the number one complaint for homemade pudding chefs. Lumps can occur for several different reasons. The egg could curdle, the cornstarch could seize up, etc.
Make sure you thoroughly combine your ingredients in the pot before you begin cooking. This will help make sure the cornstarch is really incorporated throughout, and the sugar and eggs are nicely blended.
Once your pudding is cooked, the best way to remove lumps is to strain your pudding through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. The lumps will be caught in the sieve and can be discarded.
Tips for Making the Best Apple Cider Pudding
Homemade pudding can feel a little daunting, but I promise you it’s not that hard. Once you get your sea legs and feel confident, you can whip this treat out and wow your loved ones with a quick, delicious dessert that is a million times better than a box mix could ever be!
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make this recipe.
Whisk in vanilla at the end, not during cooking. The heat can diminish the flavor, so wait on the vanilla extract and the butter. Those will add an added depth of richness to the pudding!
Add a little spice. This pudding has a bright, appley flavor. To deepen the taste, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
Use plastic wrap to keep the pudding from forming a skin. Pudding skins may have been a thing for Seinfeld, but most of us don’t really want that happening. Pressing a piece of plastic wrap directly on the top of the pudding before chilling in the fridge will prevent that.
Make it ahead! Because it needs to chill for so long, you could make this in the morning to serve after dinner. This recipe also lasts for 5-7 days in an airtight container in the fridge, so you could make it well in advance. You can make the spiced whipped cream up to 2 days before serving.
Apple Cider Pudding with Spiced Whipped Cream
- Hand mixer
For the Apple Cider Pudding
- 1.5 cups half and half
- 1 cup unfiltered apple cider
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Spiced Whipped Cream
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
To Make the Apple Cider Pudding
- In a medium pot, whisk together the apple cider, half and half, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks.
- Add the pot to the stovetop over medium-low heat.
- Cook the pudding, whisking every minute or so, until it is completely bubbling (about 6-8 minutes).
- Once it reaches the bubbling stage, cook it another 2-3 minutes, whisking just once or twice, until it is thickened but pourable. Do not over whisk because you could break down the binding action happening in the pudding. Make sure the pudding is still pourable; it will thicken more as it cools.
- Remove the pudding from the heat. Whisk in the butter and vanilla extract.
- Optional: if you are concerned about any lumps in your pudding, you can strain it into a bowl by pouring it through a fine mesh sieve, pressing the pudding through with a spoon, and discarding what will not pass through.
- Pour your pudding either into a bowl or into individual serving dishes. Allow the pudding to cool to lukewarm on the counter.
- Once lukewarm, cover your pudding with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the wrap down on the surface of the pudding so it is completely touching and covered by the wrap.
- Chill in the fridge for several hours before serving.
To Make the Spiced Whipped Cream
- Wait until you are ready to serve your pudding before making the cream.
- In a large bowl, combine the cream, sugar, and spice.
- Using a hand mixer, beat the mixture on high speed until the cream reaches stiff peaks.
- When ready to serve, spoon the whipped cream onto the pudding. Dust with a bit more spice if desired. Store any remaining whipped cream in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.