If you read my post about Rome, you already know that we fell in love with a restaurant called Dar Poeta that served the best brick fired pizzas that I probably will ever taste. When the server offered dessert, I was a bit wary. Can a place excel in both dinner and dessert? The answer is a resounding YES! On our last visit to Dar Poeta we ordered Crema Poeta (a fancy way of saying vanilla pudding) and oh, my gosh. This was amazing. I don’t know why I never thought to make homemade vanilla pudding at home. (This probably has something to do with the fact that desserts that have no chocolate get immediately shoved to the bottom of the recipe stack.) Now we make crema poeta regularly in our home and serve it with vanilla wafers. Easy and delicious – it doesn’t get much better than that!
Before you get any ideas about buying your vanilla beans at the grocery store, allow me to spare you the sticker shock: at the grocery store, vanilla beans cost $1-$2 each. But there is an economical solution! We buy vanilla beans in bulk on Amazon for about $.50 a piece (ahhh… Amazon… my favorite place to shop!). You can store unused beans in a freezer bag in your freezer. And later, if you’re interested, I’ll teach you how to make homemade vanilla extract (surprising fact: it’s just two ingredients!).
crema poeta (vanilla pudding)
recipe adapted from www.pickycook.com
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsps cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean (seeds scraped out)
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Place the butter in a large bowl and lay a fine mesh strainer across the top of the bowl.
In a saucepan, off of the heat, mix together the sugar, corn starch, and salt. Gradually add the milk until well blended. Turn the heat to medium and heat until milk is very warm, but not boiling. Whisk in the vanilla bean seeds and egg yolks until blended. Using a spatula, stir constantly until the mixture thickly coats the spatula. Keep an eye on this or your yolks will cook, resulting in scrambled egg bits!
Remove the mixture from the heat and pour through the strainer. (The idea here is to catch any eggs that happened to cook so that they don’t ruin the consistency of your pudding.) Mix well until butter is well blended into the pudding. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Serve with vanilla wafers (optional).