Chocolate or vanilla: Find comfort in GMO-free corn starch puddings

It’s been a dizzying couple of weeks. Since before Thanksgiving, right up through New Year’s Day, those of us who cook have done more than our fair share of preparing elaborate holiday meals, cookie baking and flipping breakfast pancakes for overnight company. Now I’m ready to sit back, prop my feet up, catch up on some good cookbook reading and indulge in the comfort of homemade chocolate pudding. Should you prefer to be soothed in vanilla, there’s a darn good vanilla pudding recipe here, as well. Like all things luxurious, you won’t need much to feel comforted, about a half-cup will do it, so the recipes here are designed to make four to six servings each. The pudding recipes use corn starch for thickening, and if you’ve made homemade puddings in the past, the recipes will look very much look like the ones our grandmothers and our grandmothers’ grandmothers made. Our grandmothers, however, did not have to be concerned about the use of genetically engineered corn in the corn starch they used, so if it’s of concern for you, as it is for me, choose to buy only corn starch that is labeled “GMO” free; that is, corn starch that is made from non-genetically modified corn. (Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, are created when DNA from one species is injected into another. Although studies have thus far concluded that the consumption of genetically engineered food is safe, many experts believe there to be a link between GMOs and certain health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and autoimmune disorders.) With a taste about a gazillion percent better than that found in boxed pudding mixes, the proof of homemade pudding is all in the eating, one luscious, comforting spoonful at a time.


Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at

Rich Vanilla Corn Starch Pudding

1/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup corn starch, preferably non-GMO

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups half-and-half, or 1 cup half-and-half and 1 cup whole milk

3 large egg yolks, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 1½ cups of the half-and-half, the sugar and the salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. While the half-and-half is simmering, whisk the corn starch and egg yolks with the remaining ½ cup of half-and-half in a separate bowl. Whisk some of the hot half-and-half mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper. Through a fine mesh strainer, pour the hot half-and-half /egg mixture back into the pan of simmering half and half. Whisking constantly, bring mixture to a boil, then allow to cook for 1 to 2 minutes until mixture is very thick.

Remove pan from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract, mixing until well blended. Pour pudding into dessert dishes. (To prevent a skin from forming, lightly press a piece of plastic wrap on top of the pudding.) Serve warm or after being chilled for at least 2 hours. Makes four ½-cup servings

Milk Chocolate Corn Starch Pudding

Recipe adapted from a recipe by King Arthur Flour for Chocolate Cream Pie filling

8 ounces good quality milk chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder*

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

1 cup cold half-and-half

2 cups milk

Chocolate curls for garnish, optional


Place the chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl; set aside.

In a medium, heavy saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt. Whisk in the half-and-half until the mixture is smooth; whisk in egg yolks. Place the saucepan over medium heat and stirring constantly, bring mixture to a boil; cook for 1 minute. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve over the reserved chocolate and butter, whisking until chocolate and butter is melted and mixture is smooth and well combined. Pour into dessert dishes. (To prevent a skin from forming, lightly press a piece of plastic wrap on top of the pudding.) Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Makes about six ½-cup servings. *Kitchen Ade note: for the purposes of this recipe, I used King Arthur Flour’s Triple Cocoa Blend. It can be used in recipes calling for either natural cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa. Find it at or by calling 1-800-827-6836.