Easy Summer Dessert: Homemade Pudding Cup Bar

Last Friday night we had dinner with several friends and their children. We wanted a simple, low-energy meal, so we turned to recipes we could assemble on the spot. We made pizza dough and let everyone choose their toppings and bake their own, and then for dessert we made one of our favorite easy fall-backs: pudding cups.
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Remember those Jell-O pudding cups with the peel-back lids? (Lids that HAD to be licked first, before digging into the pudding cup, we might add.)

These are the grownup, fresh-food version of those pudding cups. But they're no less appealing and frankly, they're not a lot harder than those plastic-wrapped types. Plus everyone gets to top their own however they want!

Here's what we did to make our own pudding cup bar:

• Made a big pot of DIY Pudding. This is an easy stovetop affair involving just whole milk, cornstarch, a little sugar and vanilla. We added some lemon zest and juice after it thickened. Then we let it chill.
• We sliced up fruit: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and bananas.
• We also offered cinnamon almonds for a crunchy topping.

Then everyone filled up small cups with pudding and layered it with the fruit and nuts. It was still just slightly warm, soft and delicious. It's also so easy; you can do this ahead then either layer the fruit in glasses for your guests or let them do it themselves like at our dinner party.

You could also make a chocolate version like this:

DIY Chocolate Pudding
DIY Hot Fudge Sauce
• Add in some whipped cream, crushed toasted walnuts and chopped dark cherries and you have a really decadent dessert.

And, as you can see below, even without a peel-off lid to lick these were still big hits with the kids.

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Related: Recipe: Spiced Cream and Plum Verrines

(Images: Faith Hopler)

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Summer, Sweets

Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

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