The scenes of Cher’s trays of artfully assembled tidbits came to mind as I made myself a late dinner on Saturday night; goat cheese on tiny toasts, eensy sweet-hot peppers from Culinaria’s olive bar, leisurely mouthfuls of microwave popcorn.
But I am one of those people who also needs, or more precisely craves, something sweet at the end of a meal. Meanwhile, I am trying to be more conscious of what I put in my body, calorically speaking, and so lately my need for sweetness has been fulfilled by smaller bits of satisfaction. Minute hunks of dark chocolate are a perennial favorite, but sometimes I want something more satisfying, something I can really sit down with.
I was more or less pacing the kitchen when I remembered the box of instant vanilla pudding I’d picked up at Trader Joe’s. It had been somewhat of a whim, but I’d also wanted to see if it would satisfy my husband’s never-ending craving for bland sweets.
As I was making it, and I use the verb “make” loosely, I hit on the idea of throwing some ground cardamom in half of it. Only half, because historically, my husband is so devoted to the idea of vanilla as a flavor that I assumed he wouldn’t go for the cardamom thing (I was right).
If you’ve had Indian rice pudding (kheer) it’s probably had cardamom in it; its flowery, anise-tinged flavor makes it a natural friend to milk. Most international groceries will have it, and I haven’t looked, but some of your fancier groceries might, too.
Rather shocked by the country of origin.
Ten minutes after my craving for a dessert I could spend some time with, I was covering four lovely little footed ‘60s dessert cups with bits of plastic wrap. Later, it occurred to me that this pudding was edible proof that a modern invention had the power to improve my life – if only for as long as it took to unwrap and empty a dish.
Deliciousness: Not crazy about the bubbly, loose texture, but that’s probably a function of the skim milk. The cardamom, however, was great.
Difficulty: I won’t even dignify that with a response.
Do-Over: Probably, at some point, after I take a stab at the Brown & Paulsen’s custard powder I have in the pantry.
1 Packet Trader Joe’s instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
2 pinches ground cardamom (optional)
Whisk, chill, enjoy, divide into individual dishes if you like.