Stovetop Pudding



  1. Combine 2 cups of the half-and-half, the sugar, and the salt in a saucepan and stir.
  2. Put over medium-low heat.
  3. Cook until the mixture just begins to steam, 2 or 3 minutes.
  4. Combine the cornstarch and the remaining 1/2 cup half-and-half in a bowl and whisk to make a slurry; there should be no lumps.
  5. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan.
  6. Raise the heat if not much is happening and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens and just starts to boil, 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Reduce the heat to very low and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens noticeably and starts to stick to the pan, another 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in the butter and the vanilla extract.
  9. Pour the mixture into a bowl big enough to hold it or into 4 to 6 small ramekins or glasses.
  10. Put plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent the formation of a "skin," or, pudding skin, leave it uncovered.
  11. Refrigerate until chilled, at least an hour, and serve within a day.