The Skin On The Pudding

Yesterday our firm had a nifty little St. Patrick’s Day food event called “Irish nachos,” consisting of waffle fries, a queso sauce, and bacon crumbles. They were very tasty! I got to the buffet late, however, so when I dipped the ladle into the queso sauce there was a thin skin on top that crinkled up in response to the downward pressure of the ladle before breaking–and thanks to that sight a pleasant childhood memory came flooding back.

My mother always tried to have a dessert to serve during our family dinners. Usually it was something like a lime Jello mold with grapes in it–not a favorite for me, frankly–or some canned peaches or pears, perhaps served on cottage cheese. On some lucky days, however, it was little glass bowls of chocolate or butterscotch pudding.

The pudding always had the skin on top, and that turned out to be a big part of why pudding was a favorite dessert. Using your spoon to play with the pudding skin was irresistible and kind of fun–could you peel off the skin in one piece, could you use your spoon to wrinkle the skin and loosen it from its moorings on the sides of the bowl, and how much pressure would it take to puncture the skin, once and for all?–and the skin, once consumed, always seemed even richer and tastier than the rest of the pudding.

I see on the internet that some food websites offer tips on how a cook can prevent the formation of skin on top of pudding or custard. What? That whole concept is fundamentally misguided, like trying to make pizza without attention to the crust, or attempting to develop plant-based burger patties. In my book, the skin is a crucial part of the pudding. Why would you want to make a pudding without it? A pudding without skin is a pudding without soul.