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Posts Tagged ‘pudding’

by Caitlin Saniga

Caramel pudding cups with gingerbread groundhogs

Did you ever try the “dirt and worms” snack as a kid? It consisted of crushed Oreos, layered with whipped cream and topped with gummy worms. These pudding cups were inspired by that elementary school treat.

Let me just say that this recipe took a lot of work. I started making my own groundhog-shaped cookie cutter from a pop can Friday morning and mixed up the cookie dough that afternoon. I made the pudding and baked the cookies on Saturday morning, whipped up the whipped cream that afternoon and finished the assembly in the evening. By the time I dipped in my spoon for the first taste, I darn well deserved it.

Was it worth it? To me, yes. The cookies were delicious, the pudding was a culinary challenge I can now cross off my list, and whipped cream is always best when made from scratch. Could I have taken shortcuts? Ooooh, yeah.

For starters, I could have bought a groundhog cookie cutter like this or decided on some other shape to use, like a circle. I could have skipped making my own gingerbread altogether and found some kind of premade cookie at the grocery store (Maybe Nutter Butters?). I certainly could have saved myself some nail-biting if I’d just used an instant pudding mix. And store-bought whipped cream almost seems like a no-brainer. Will I hold it against you if you don’t make everything from scratch? Of course not! I’m the idiot who thought making this dessert for two days straight sounded like a good idea.

But if you’re up to the challenge, I’ve summed up every step you need to know to make these Groundhog Day pudding cups from scratch. Shall we begin?

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I experimented with shapes and sizes and ended up liking these two. The tall one measures about 2 inches vertically, while the other one is about 1 1/2 inches.

I experimented with shapes and sizes and ended up liking these two. The tall one measures about 2 inches vertically, while the other one is about 1 1/2 inches. I liked the longer cookies because you could really push them down into the pudding without losing too much of the head shape.

Groundhog cookie cutter

*Note: Making your own cookie cutter can be dangerous if you’re not careful. Don’t use dull blades, and handle the metal, which is very sharp, with care.

You’ll need:

  • a clean aluminum soda can
  • a very sharp knife with a pointed tip and flat blade (I used a paring knife.)
  • a pair of scissors
  • a ruler
  • a permanent marker
  • a stapler
See those jagged edges? Those were cut with my sharp paring knife. If anyone knows of a better, safer way to cut off the top and bottom of a pop can, please comment and let us know!

See those jagged edges? Those were cut with my sharp paring knife. If anyone knows of a better, safer way to cut off the top and bottom of a soda can, please comment and let us know! This was the best I could come up with my limited tool supply.

Cut off the top and bottom of the aluminum can with a knife. Watch your fingers, and start each cut with a stab of the point.

Use scissors to make a vertical cut along the length of the open cylinder. You’ll be left with a curled sheet of metal.

Carefully flatten the metal with one hand, reinforcing it with a ruler parallel to the long edge. Use a marker to trace a line along the ruler. Draw a parallel line about 1/2 inch from the first one.

Once you make your cuts, you'll have a thin strip of metal to work with.

Once you make your cuts, you’ll have a thin strip of metal to work with.

Use scissors to cut along the lines you’ve drawn. Be as precise as possible to ensure clean cuts into your cookie dough later. You’ll be left with a curled strip of metal.

From there, bend the strip into the outline of a groundhog, leaving about 1/2 inch excess at the end of the strip. Hard creases may tear the aluminum, so soft bends are best. Use the excess of the strip to overlap with the other end, and staple it to close the shape.

Makes 1 cookie cutter.

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If you don't have a groundhog cookie cutter (Who the heck does??) and you aren't up for making your own, I suggest using a circle-shape cookie cutter or a glass to make small round cookies.

If you don’t have a groundhog cookie cutter (Who the heck does??) and you aren’t up for making your own, I suggest using a circle-shape cookie cutter or a glass to make small round cookies. And is it me, or do my groundhogs look like owls?

Gingerbread cookies

I started the dough for these a day early. See the recipe I used here.

You’ll need:

  • 6 cookies for groundhog garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed cookies, or 10-12 cookies, for “dirt”

For the groundhogs, I used a toothpick to poke holes for eyes after the cookies had baked and set.

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To stop skin from forming on the top of the pudding, press a square of plastic wrap against the top of the pudding and chill.

To stop skin from forming on the pudding, press a square of plastic wrap against the top before chilling.

Practice mis-en-place, and do measure each ingredient ahead of time! You'll thank me as your dabbing the sweat off your forehead and watching your pudding change colors.

Practice mis-en-place, and measure each ingredient ahead of time! You’ll thank me as your dabbing the sweat off your forehead and watching your pudding change colors.

Caramel pudding

I placed a lot of faith in Smitten Kitchen for this one. Didn’t make too many tweaks except for the type of milk, which I switched to skim (and it worked just fine!). We don’t normally do this, but I’m going to direct you to SK’s blog post and advise you to read the recipe 2 or 3 times, assemble your ingredients and take some deep breaths before you start.

Don’t even think about stepping away from the pot once you start! Your diligence will pay off!

Recipe: Smitten Kitchen

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Whipped cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a whisk, combine the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat on high until a semi-firm consistency is reached, about 3 minutes.

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Pudding cup assembly

With your pudding already chilled in 6 lowball glasses, sprinkle 1/4 cup crushed gingerbread cookies into each glass. Top with whipped cream and wedge a groundhog cookie into each cup.

Serve and enjoy!

Makes 6.

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by Caitlin Saniga

Oops! Got a little excited digging into the pie and cracked the crust of my first slice at the base. Top each slice of cocoa pudding pie with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, a square of chocolate and maybe even a dusting of chocolate powder.

  • pate brisee (recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • sweetened whipped cream (recipe here)
  • chocolate squares for garnish

If you decide to embellish the edges of your pie crust, dig around in your cupboards and drawers to find some unconventional decorating tools. Here, I used a citrus zester with tiny circular holes in a repetitive pattern around the edge. You can also use the tongs of a fork, the spikes of a meat tenderizer, a mesh strainer or the decorative handle of any utensil.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

On a clean, flat surface, roll the pate brisee into an 11-inch circle. Gently lift and place the crust in a 9-inch pie pan. Softly press the crust into the pan, then quickly flip the pan upside down and rest on a flat surface. Using a sharp knife, cut around the pan to remove any extra crust. Flip over again, and use a fork to prick holes in the crust. Refrigerate the pan for 10 minutes (Cooling it will help prevent the crust from shrinking down into the pan when it’s baked.).

Remove the pan from the fridge and cover the crust with foil and place pie weights or dried beans on top to keep the foil in place. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, then remove it from the oven and take out the pie weights and the aluminum foil liner.

Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Return the pie to the oven to bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely before using.

Combine the cocoa, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually add the milk to the dry ingredients, stirring until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly , until mixture comes to a boil; boil for 1 minute.

Remove the pan from heat; stir in the butter and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the crust. Carefully press plastic wrap directly onto the pie filling. Refrigerate for 6 hours.

When serving, wipe the blade of your knife clean after each slice. Top each piece with whipped cream and a chocolate square. Refrigerate leftover pie.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe adapted from: Hershey’s

*This month we’re featuring classic pies that would be a great dessert at any Thanksgiving table. For the full list of pies, click here.

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