Vanilla beans can be expensive, but their superior flavor is worth the investment. Substitute vanilla paste or one teaspoon real vanilla extract if necessary. Stir extract in with the butter.
2 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 large egg yolks
4 teaspoons butter
How to Make It
Place milk in a medium, heavy saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; add seeds and bean to milk. Bring to a boil.
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well. Combine half-and-half and egg yolks, stirring well. Stir egg yolk mixture into sugar mixture. Gradually add half of hot milk to sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return hot milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat. Add butter, stirring until melted. Remove vanilla bean; discard.
Spoon pudding into a bowl. Place bowl in a large ice-filled bowl for 15 minutes or until pudding cools, stirring occasionally. Cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap; chill.
Peanut Butter Pudding Variation: Omit vanilla bean, salt, and butter; stir in 1/4 cup reduced-fat creamy peanut butter after custard is cooked. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup).
CALORIES 257 (30% from fat); FAT 6g (sat 3g, mono 6g, poly 6g); PROTEIN 9g; CARB 2g; FIBER 7g; CHOL 80mg; IRON 5mg; SODIUM 170mg; CALC 142mg
Coconut Pudding Variation: Omit vanilla bean. Omit 3/4 cup milk, and replace it with 3/4 cup light unsweetened coconut milk. Omit butter; stir in 1/2 cup toasted sweetened flaked coconut after pudding is cooked. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup).
CALORIES 224 (30% from fat); FAT 5g (sat 3g, mono 5g, poly 4g); PROTEIN 1g; CARB 8g; FIBER 3g; CHOL 77mg; IRON 5mg; SODIUM 115mg; CALC 105mg