Cheap, Cheerful, Low-Fat, Low-Sugar Dessert: Caramel Pudding
This is the dessert for you if you're looking for an inexpensive, low-sugar, low-fat, high-taste treat. It also can be made using your microwave. Seriously. Caramel pudding uses ingredients that you probably have on hand, and it's incredibly good. It's light, sweet (but not horrendously, tooth-hurting sugary), and cool on a warm day. Caramel pudding probably is one of those treats that your grandmother made when she wanted to add a little something to her family's nutrition but still offer them a dessert. With plenty of calcium and protein-rich milk, this is a dessert you can love, particularly because you won't have to spend hours at a gym to work off the calories (which you probably can't right now anyway, because most of the gyms are closed because of the virus threat!). The topping for the pudding is entirely optional, but it's incredibly good and adds substantially to the treat--though be forewarned, it does make the pudding sweeter and increases the calories! The whipped cream/topping also is optional, but, hey, come on! You do need to enjoy life! Put a little topping on your pudding and be happy! What about the cookie? Well, you can't eat pudding without a cookie, can you? Stay tuned for the cookie recipe later in the week!
Low-Fat, Low-Sugar Caramel Pudding
2 1/2 cups of low-fat milk (I use 1 percent), divided (yes, you can use almond milk!)
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 teaspoon of caramel extract (use 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla if you don't have caramel)
Sugared Nut Topping
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of butter
2 tablespoons of toasted nuts (I use toasted almonds, peanuts, pecans, etc.)
In a large, microwave-safe bowl or measure, whisk together 2 cups of the milk, the 1/3 cup of brown sugar, and the salt. Microwave the sweetened milk for 4-5 minutes until very hot--almost but not quite boiling. While the milk is heating, in a cup whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the cornstarch until the cornstarch is blended into the milk. When the sweetened milk is hot, gradually whisk in the milk/cornstarch mixture. Return the mixture to the microwave and microwave it for a minute. Whisk it again. Return the mixture to the microwave for another 4-5 minutes, stopping the microwave every thirty seconds to whisk the mixture vigorously. DO NOT MICROWAVE LONGER THAN 30 SECONDS WITHOUT WHISKING--unless you want to clean out your microwave. The mixture should thicken to the consistency of a white sauce and coat a spoon. After the mixture thickens, whisk in the caramel extract. Pour the warm pudding into dessert dishes and let it cool to room temperature before putting the dishes into the refrigerator for at least a few hours. For the sugared nut topping, combine the brown sugar and butter in a microwave-safe cup and microwave them for 30 seconds. Stir in the toasted nuts and microwave the mixture another 30 seconds. Spread the sugared nuts on a plate spritzed with non-stick cooking spray or a piece of waxed paper spritzed with spray. Let the nut mixture cool and break it into little crumbs. When you're ready to eat the pudding, divide the sugared nuts among the dishes of pudding and dollop on some whipped cream or topping. Enjoy your (sort of) good for you pudding and feel virtuous!!!