Pudding is having a moment. Restaurant menus, on-line recipes, magazine articles – they’re all featuring puddings.
Often, they’re under a different name, though. A posher, more sophisticated name than plain old pudding. Like budino. Budino is the Italian singular for pudding, but it sounds more exciting than just plain pudding. These Italian puddings aren’t so different from American ones. Some are thickened with cornstarch, as are many American puddings. Some are custards, made with egg yolks. Some combine the two methods. But most are pretty much what most of us think of as pudding -- the rich homemade kind not the kind from a box. Salted caramel budino is wildly popular as is butterscotch budino and chocolate budino.
Crémeux and crèmes are also restaurant-level pudding words. These creamy puddings are made in flavors like cappuccino, mocha, or lemon. Then there are pots de crèmes, although they are usually baked, like an old-fashioned American baked custard. They can be flavored with vanilla, pumpkin, whatever you like.
Also making an appearance is malabi, a pudding with Turkish/Balkan heritage that’s creamy white, thickened with cornstarch or rice flour and usually flavored with rosewater. It’s often served with raspberry or pomegranate syrup for a splash of color and intense flavor.
Seeing all these puddings on menus made me want to make one of my own. Because coffee is one of my favorite ice cream flavors, I adapted my white coffee ice cream recipe to make a coffee pudding. Adding some Irish whiskey turned it into an Irish coffee pudding and a perfect dessert for St. Patrick’s Day. Or any other day for that matter.
I wasn’t sure what to name it, though. Calling it Irish coffee budino or Irish coffee malabi is too strange. Irish coffee crémeux or crème sounds pretentious, as does pots de crèmes. The Gaelic word for pudding is maróg, so Irish coffee maróg would be a fine name, but maróg seems to be the one pudding word no one is using. So I’m calling it Irish coffee pudding.
Whatever it’s called, it’s rich and delicious. If you want to make it even richer, top it with some crème fraiche or whipped cream or chocolate syrup. But, really, I think it’s wonderful on its own, or with a few crisp chocolate cookies and maybe a small glass of your favorite Irish whiskey on the side.
Irish coffee pudding
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup coffee beans
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon instant espresso
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
Combine milk, cream, and coffee beans in a medium-size saucepan and bring it almost to the boiling point. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 10 or 15 minutes. Strain the coffee beans out and return the milk mixture to the pan over low heat.
Mix the cornstarch and water to make a smooth slurry. Stir into the milk mixture.
Whisk the egg yolks, instant espresso, sugar, and salt together. Add a small amount of the milk mixture to the egg mixture. Pour into saucepan and stir it all together until it starts to thicken.
Remove from heat, add vanilla and Irish whiskey. Stir thoroughly to combine. Pour into serving dishes and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To prevent a skin from forming on the top, cover with plastic wrap pressed firmly against the surface. Makes four modest servings.