This is one of my favorite childhood recipes, with a twist. When I was growing up, my mom made a delicious version of vanilla pudding with only four ingredients: milk, cornstarch, brown sugar, and pure vanilla extract. Here, I simmered milk with coconut sugar and sprinkled shredded coconut and toasted pecans on top. Derived from the sap of coconut palm trees, coconut sugar is supposedly more nutritious than cane sugar, with a lower glycemic index and small amounts of iron, potassium, and other minerals. Regardless of whether it actually has health benefits, coconut sugar lends a rich, butterscotch-like flavor and a beautiful color to this warm, comforting treat.
Coconut Vanilla Pudding
2 cups milk
1/4-1/3 cup coconut sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
1. Pour milk into a medium saucepan. Remove about 1/3 cup of milk, and place in a small bowl. Whisk in corn starch until well combined. Transfer milk and cornstarch mixture back into saucepan.
2. Add sugar and whisk continuously over medium-high heat until pudding thickens. Remove from heat, then stir in vanilla and a pinch of salt.
3, Transfer to small bowls or mason jars, and sprinkle with coconut flakes and chopped pecans, if desired. Serve warm. This is best eaten immediately after cooking, but leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator.