You may not think of carby custard as a go-to dessert—but you should.
When you’re entertaining guests, contemplating a potluck dessert showstopper, or planning on whipping up a treat-yo-self indulgence, you probably don’t think of baked puddings as a go-to. Here’s why you should: They’re every bit of gooey, warm, and rich you could ever want from a dessert. They can be customized to be as simple and comforting, or impressive and highbrow as you’re in the mood for. And they’re infinitely more easily transportable than finicky cakes and pies—which instantly lose that wow-factor after a ride in the trunk and an unanticipated speed bump. From a perfected, classic recipe, to one with completely unexpected ingredients and presentation, these two puddings are our new favorites, and we’ll be baking them year-round.
This is the dessert you pull out when you’re looking to impress—but it’s not as complicated to prepare as you might think. Our take involves making a simple stovetop-prepared custard to soak the bread in, instead of using an uncooked egg-milk-sugar combo like most classic recipes. The inside stays beautifully creamy, while the edges get toasted and crispy. You’ll want to splurge on some high-quality brioche for this pudding, and seek out duck fat for just the right amount of subtle savoriness that keeps it from becoming cloying. Can’t find duck fat? Browned butter is a toasty, nutty, and easy swap. And of course, a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream and a generous spoon of that apple-caramel sauce are not optional. This recipe is also a perfect blank canvas for whatever flavors you’re feeling at the moment. Fresh berries, nuts, chocolate, swirls of peanut butter, or your favorite fruit preserves would all be tasty additions.
One of those ideas that’s so crazy it just might work, this pudding was an unexpected hit in our office. It turns out spaghetti, custard, strawberry sauce, and chocolate not only work together, but taste delicious enough for us to go back for seconds and thirds. The addition of ricotta cheese in the custard helps the pudding hold its shape so you can easily cut it into slices to serve, but it also gives the pudding an extra boost of richness—and that simple strawberry sauce is lick-the-plate delicious. Serve this to guests for a fun presentation that’s a guaranteed conversation starter, or to kids for what’s sure to be a new highly requested, family-favorite dessert. And don’t forget the chocolate-hazelnut “meatballs” to complete the look.