Pudding is one of the oldest foods, and it's come a long way from the savory, sausage-like dish of medieval Britain. In fact, the food that Americans know as pudding is a sweet, creamy dish that is more similar to a custard. Most people don't have to be convinced of the deliciousness of a wafer-lined banana pudding or a gooey bread pudding with caramel sauce, but with its collection of delicious recipes, Food & Wine's guide to pudding will remind you that dark chocolate pudding is an elegant way to end a dinner party and why rice pudding deserves a spot at your next potluck.

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Chocolate Puddings with Miso Caramel
Miso-enriched caramel intensifies the deep, chocolaty flavor of these silky puddings from pastry chef Clarice Lam. A touch of cornstarch in the custard base helps thicken the puddings and keeps them from curdling or breaking. Be sure to bring the leftover caramel to the table; its savory, bitter, and sweet flavor will have guests reaching for more.
Guava and Cheese Bread Pudding
Bey and Jay. PB&J. Platano con salami. They're all iconic duos and pastry chef Paola Velez has one more to add to the canon: guava and cheese. This classic flavor combo takes a star turn in a dessert that Velez describes as "if flan and bread pudding had a baby, and it's delicious." This particular budin de pan recipe—which Velez calls "history in a bowl"—originated with Velez's husband's 101-year-old grandmother, and features a lavish custard made with what might seem like an excess of evaporated milk, but makes for an utterly dreamy texture in the final product. Mastering the homemade caramel portion calls for some close attention and meticulous stirring—Velez notes that even one undissolved grain of sugar may cause the whole mass to solidify—but the reward is sweet and filled with plenty of tropical vibes, especially if you opt for chopped mango on top.
This creamy semolina pudding, traditional to Parsi cuisine, gets its velvety texture from gentle, constant stirring and a careful eye on the heat; it should bubble when cooking over high heat but not come to a full boil. Sweetened condensed milk—writer Sabrina Medora’s grandmother’s riff—and a simple whole milk–and–egg mixture thicken the pudding and add a creamy, sweet flavor.
Biscoff Banana Pudding
Rating: Unrated 3
The subtle spice of Biscoff cookies helps to balance the sweetness of each decadent layer of creamy custard and fresh bananas in this tall and impressive banana pudding for a crowd. It's inspired by one made by 2019 F&W Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi's aunt Yolanda, of Beaumont, Texas, which he tasted on a recent trip to connect with his roots in Louisiana and Texas.
Butterscotch Pudding Parfait with Gingersnap Crumble
Classic butterscotch pudding is enhanced with tangy whipped crème fraîche and warm, spicy gingersnap crumble to make a beautiful parfait.
Saffron Rice Pudding
The house I grew up in boasted four old apple trees that shed a yard’s worth of gnarled apples every year that I never dared to bite whole for fear of bruises and other yucky bits. But my grandmother and my mother still gathered them and every fall, carefully editing them of any flaws before cooking them into container after container of apple sauce and my very favorite chunky apple cake. The transformation of those apples, and the other ways my mother—who was born in the last years of the Great Depression—showed respect for extra bits of food, and made a big impression on me.In my life of relative bounty, I’m inspired by those memories to not waste food, and to find joy in the transformation of what I have around the house. Working with leftovers is, for me, really about kitchen creativity: I always feel like I do my best cooking when I have something concrete to use a springboard for the next meal. Almost always, there is something that carries over from one day to the next, shifted in flavor or texture a bit to keep things lively. That’s why my new cookbook, Secrets of Great Second Meals: Flexible Modern Recipes that Value Time and Limit Waste, is filled with recipes to show off the potential of leftovers. Sometimes the transformation is dramatic. Take a simple but gorgeous dessert based on the extra box of rice you might have around from last night’s takeout. By simmering the rice gently in milk with a few threads of saffron, you can create a luxurious dessert, a golden pudding topped with ruby pomegranate seeds. I use a small amount of sweet sticky rice easily found at Asian stores or online, to help thicken the pudding without fussing around with eggs. If you don’t have sticky rice in your house, you can still make the dessert, but it will be looser in texture. Try a cinnamon stick and the zest of an orange in place of the saffron, or substitute 1 teaspoon of matcha powder for the saffron. Whatever flavors you choose, you’re guaranteed a bowl of sweet cozy comfort to ward off winter’s chill.Sara Dickerman cooked in restaurants for many years as she was developing as a food writer. She is the author of Bon Appetit: The Food Lover’s Cleanse and Dried & True: The Magic of your Dehydrator in 80 Delicious Recipes and Techniques. She has contributed food and travel writing to Bon Appétit, Saveur, the New York Times, Food & Wine, Seattle magazine, Sunset, and Slate, for which she won a James Beard Award. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two children.

More Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Rich and sweet, from dates, molasses, and dark brown sugar, this cake is an indulgent dessert. A generous drizzle of heavy cream balances the flavor perfectly. Chewy and sticky Medjool dates work best here, but any dried date will do. Excerpted  from the book AT MY TABLE by Nigella Lawson. Copyright © 2018 by Nigella Lawson. Reprinted with permission from  Flatiron Books. All rights reserved.
Banana Sticky Toffee Pudding
Rating: Unrated 2
Overripe bananas add flavor and decadence to this classic cake-like dessert. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream to balance the sweet dates and toffee sauce.Slideshow: More Banana Recipes
Chocolate Pudding Recipes

Take your pick from any one of our variations of chocolate pudding. Recipes include a dark-chocolate pudding with candied ginger, a silky double-chocolate pudding, a Mayan chocolate pudding spiced with ground habanero chiles and more.