Monday, March 10, 2014

Hazelnut Pudding

I have been on a serious pudding kick lately. I made chocolate pudding for friends with a new baby. I made pistachio pudding to use up the last of some half-and-half from a houseguest. And then I made chocolate pudding again for a sickbed delivery (in related news, did you know that people still get whooping cough?). And yet, I am still not done of pudding.

But pudding, apparently, was done of me. I had made all the puddings there were. I was literally googling around for alternate options, plugging in "pudding -chocolate -rice -pistachio -bread," but coming up woefully short on new directions in which to take my obsession. And then, like a good Oregonian, I thought of hazelnuts. Why should pistachio be the only nut that gets its own pudding? Does hazelnut have enough oomph to anchor a pudding?

Turns out it does. Hazelnut pudding — especially when you deepen the flavor by giving the nuts a good toasting first — is lovely. It's rich yet subtle, comforting yet grown up. And when you top it with a blob of barely-sweetened whipped cream, and a pinch of locally made coffee salt you were recently gifted — well, it's just sublime. The world of pudding just got a little bit bigger.

Hazelnut Pudding

yields 6 small cups

1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 cups whole milk
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
a hefty pinch salt (if you're not topping puddings with additional flaky salt, you may want two hefty pinches)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pats

For serving: lightly sweetened whipped cream, additional toasted and chopped hazelnuts, flaky salt, etc.

If your hazelnuts are raw, roast them: preheat your oven to 275° Fahrenheit, and pour the nuts onto a rimmed baking dish. Bake, shaking to turn them once or twice, until they get a nice rich golden color and smell amazing, ~15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly, and then rub in a clean dishtowel to remove the loose skins. You may need to do this a few times — get off what you can, but no need to go nuts about it (sorry). Some skins are fine.

Place the roasted hazelnuts in a blender, along with half of the sugar and all of the milk, and blitz for a few minutes, until as smooth as possible. Pour into a large saucepan, and heat over a medium flame until it just begins to steam.

While the milk is heating, scare up 6 small dishes for the finished pudding. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, and salt until smooth and lump-free. When the nutty milk mixture is steamy, pour it into the yolks mixture slowly, whisking constantly (you'll have to whisk like the Dickens at first, but it'll be less critical as you loosen the mixture up). When everything is incorporated, return the mixture to the saucepan. 

Cook over a medium (or, if you want to be extra careful, medium-low) heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens (this should just take a few minutes). Eventually the mixture will come to a boil — let bubble for a minute while you stir, then turn off the heat. Add the butter and vanilla, stirring to combine. Pour into your serving dishes and chill until cool and set.

To serve, topped with whipped cream and flaky salt or toasted hazelnuts if desired.


  1. This pudding sounds fantastic! Pudding is one of those things I never think to make, but really, I am going to have to change my thought process around. So exciting!

    1. I highly recommend pudding making. Which will lead to pudding obsession.

  2. Looks like that was completely worthwhile! And coffee salt? I need coffee salt.

    1. When I first got it, I thought what will I ever use coffee salt for? And then I found its true destiny as a pudding topper. It's possible it has other uses, but why mess with perfect?

  3. this looks delicious! I will try it out.