If the only vanilla pudding you've ever eaten is from a plastic Jello brand cup, then please make this. It takes about 15 minutes to pull together and will knock your socks off, gone.
You can eat the pudding warm right out of the pan (Stephanie style) or chill it for a bit to serve after dinner (the proper way). Because strawberries are amazing right now, crush some with a little sugar (and a splash of booze?) and spoon them over the top. I don't know what it is about vanilla pudding + strawberries in particular, but for me, it is a holy grail combination that tastes of childhood, my grandmother's kitchen, and the world's most perfect strawberry ice cream.
If you are drooling over this photo as much as we are, just keep reading for the recipe.
(If you're loathe to waste the egg whites, then hold on until tomorrow for a recipe that just happens to call for four egg whites... Nice!)
Old-Fashioned Vanilla Pudding with Crushed Strawberries
1 pint strawberries, hulled and chopped
4 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp. sugar + 1/2 c. sugar (or even a bit less, depending on how sweet you like your...sweets)
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
4 c. whole milk
1 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. real vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, stir together strawberries and 1 Tbsp. sugar. Mash with a fork or potato masher into a chunky sauce. Set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.
In a small bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in milk. Place pan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and bubbling. Remove from heat.
Whisk a ladleful of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, then whisk the egg yolk mixture into the pan of hot milk. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until once again thick and bubbling. Cook for 2 minutes and remove from heat.
Whisk in butter and then vanilla. Cool in the pan, stirring occasionally, then spoon into serving bowls and serve at room temperature or chill for an hour. Top with crushed strawberries right before serving.