This easy stovetop pudding is smooth, rich and tangy, just like your favorite cheesecake — but it’s far faster (under an hour), far easier (no fussy water baths) and far less intimidating (the topping won’t crack). It’s considered a boiled custard, meaning the ingredients are heated slowly until the mixture forms large bubbles in the pot. Whisking the cornstarch and sugar together before adding them to the custard is a crucial step that helps the sugar granules break up the starch, which prevents lumps. This silky pudding is delicious served alone, enjoyed with just a spoon, but you can also gussy it up with fresh berries and crumbled graham crackers for a more cheesecake-like experience.
- Serves: 8 persons
- 2 ⅓cups/560 milliliters whole milk
- ⅓cup/80 milliliters heavy cream
- Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- ¼teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¾cup/150 grams granulated sugar
- ¼cup/30 grams cornstarch
- 4large egg yolks
- 12ounces/340 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2teaspoons vanilla extract
- Crumbled graham crackers or shortbread cookies, for serving (optional)
- Fresh berries, for serving (optional)
Step 1In a medium saucepan, whisk the milk, heavy cream, lemon zest, salt and 1/4 cup/50 grams sugar until combined. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
Step 2While the mixture heats, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup/100 grams sugar and the cornstarch in a medium, heat-safe bowl. Add the egg yolks and whisk until the mixture forms a thick paste.
Step 3When the milk mixture comes to a simmer, remove it from the heat. Whisking constantly, gradually add about a third of the hot milk mixture to the egg-yolk mixture in a slow, steady stream until combined. Transfer the contents of the bowl to the saucepan and whisk well to combine.
Step 4Heat over medium-low and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken, 6 to 8 minutes. (Once the mixture thickens, you may find it easier to switch to a silicone spatula for stirring.) Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil with large bubbles breaking at the surface, 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 5Remove the saucepan from the heat, and whisk in the cream cheese and the vanilla. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a heat-safe bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding (this prevents a “skin” from forming) and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
Step 6Serve the pudding in bowls or on small plates. Top with crumbled cookies and fresh berries, if desired.