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Phundamental Pudding Principles
The Proof is in the Pudding
Contributed by D. Max
Pudding comes in a host of varieties, but when you get right down to it, all pudding basically is thickened goo.

Sometimes cooking good pudding from scratch seems like a black art - one attempt becomes a bowl of vanilla soup while another becomes spackle. While attempting to titrate ingredients for various pudding recipes (and rescue various disasters in the making), I have come to realize that whether it is rice pudding, flan or an envelope of supermarket pudding powder, there are certain common underlying rules that apply to them all.

I have attempted to collect these "Pudding Principles" into a general theory that can be used to guide you in your search for just the right consistency in whatever concoction you happen to be working on. I formulate these principles under the heading of what I call...

The Grand Puddification Theory

These are principles that I am basically making up spontaneously out of the luminiferous aether (call it a Big Bang of thought, if you will). However, I realize that nothing I am saying here is really original to me (except where I'm wrong). I am merely regurgitating some of the collected wisdom of pudding makers who have come before me. If I see so far, it is only because I stand upon the shoulders of giants. You can quote me on that.

There was a time when we thought everything was like pudding. Back in 1897, a scientist named J. J. Thomson performed experiments that led to the discovery of electrons (which he called corpuscles) which he believed to be the single building block of matter. He proposed a model, called the "Plum Pudding" model in which atoms are like a little swarm of negatively charged corpuscles swimming around inside some sort of squooshy cloud of positive charge.

Later, his student, Ernest Rutherford, shot some alpha particles at a sheet of gold leaf and demonstrated that in fact all the positive charge was concentrated in a little ball at the center of the atom. Thus, matter isn't "Plum Pudding" and instead atoms are in fact mostly empty space. This became known as the "Meringue" model.

Where was I? Oh, right! So, it turned out that all matter isn't pudding, you see. But, of course you knew that because you can't just serve a lump of carbon isotopes for dessert and say, "There you go, pudding!"

So, in summary, all matter isn't pudding, but all pudding is matter.

Phundamental Pudding Particles

Basically, all pudding is goo. Pudding comes in many flavors, but without loss of generality, we can restrict our discussion to the vanilla pudding class which includes all vanilla type puddings whether they are tapioca, custard or Snak Pak.

The Primeordial Soup

The first fundamental constituent of uncooked vanilla pudding is the liquid part which is usually your basic milk, sugar and vanilla. You can vary this a bit which may alter the color, give it charm or make it taste strange (little quark humor).


The second class of ingredients are the gelling agents that turn the milky soup into puddified goo. These agents themselves are generally inert at room temperature (with some exceptions, known as "Low Temperature Superpuddifiers"). At cooking temperatures, the substances begin to decay, and it is these decay products that puddify the mixture.

These different types of substances that transform the soup to goo (guons, if you will), share some fundamental properties that enable them to substitute for each other thus making rules that are learned for one class of guons also apply to the rest of the guons. Actually, this is my whole point here, so really it is "The Grand Gooification Theory" that I am espousing here.

Alright. Now on to something that you can use, maybe. All of the following can be used to thicken pudding:

So, what's the "Grand Theory?" You can use any one or more of these things in your bag of tricks for making pudding or thickening up any of these things. If your pot of tapioca or rice pudding is looking too thin, you could mix up a bit of corn starch and water and toss it in. Next time, you can use more tapioca or add an egg to the recipe.

There, see? Simple as Bavarian Cream Pie.

Let us know your feedback, and what your favorite pudding is!

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