Vanilla Pudding Parfaits with Chocolate and Salted Caramel Sauce

I spend an inordinate amount of time researching recipes, going through cookbooks and perusing my files to create new and fun things to cook and ultimately share with you.  The irony is that often, the things I get the most excited about are the recipes that discover themselves. 

This would an example of such. 

Needing a dessert and not having any special dessert-y sort of ingredients at hand, I started pulling things from the fridge and pantry, and what emerged looked like a very friendly basket for the dessert round of Chopped. 

I had milk and eggs and vanilla so I knew I could make vanilla pudding.  I had chocolate sauce and salted caramel sauce and some Samoa-type cookies that I knew could be transformed into something scrumptiously useful.  After that, dessert sort of just made itself.  I love it when that happens.

Vanilla pudding was made and layered in turn with the caramel sauce and chocolate sauce and the cookies were crushed and sprinkled on top, and it turned out to be one of those instances where the total became equal to more than the sum of its parts. 

Even though each of those parts were exceedingly delicious, together they created a rather magical little dessert that has me thinking I need to let my pantry do more of the cooking now and then.  Here’s the recipe… 

Vanilla Pudding Parfaits with Chocolate and Salted Caramel Sauce

Even though I've specified the salted caramel sauce and chocolate sauce from Trader Joe's, you cancertainly just  use your favorites or what you have on hand.  Also the samoa-like cookies could be substituted with any crisp sort of cookies that are sort of coconut-y, chocolate-y and caramel-y.  I used some that are made by Keebler, but the classic Samoa Girl Scout cookies would be perfect.

Click here for a printable recipe

Serves 4-6 

For the Pudding:

2/3  cup sugar 

1/4  cup cornstarch 

1/4  teaspoon salt 

2 ½ cups milk 

4  large egg yolks 

2  tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (or more, if desired)

For Assembly:

Caramel sauce

Chocolate sauce

Crushed Samoa cookies (about 8)

1.  In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks. 

2. Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble forms and sputters. Reduce heat to low; still whisking, cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir the butter and vanilla into hot pudding. 

3.  Place about 3 tablespoons of the pudding in the bottom of each parfait glass.  Drizzle that with some of the caramel sauce.  Top the caramel sauce with more of the pudding and then a good drizzle of chocolate sauce.  Top with the remaining pudding.  Sprinkle the top of each parfait with about 3 tablespoons of the crushed cookies.

4.  Refrigerate the parfaits for at least 2 hours before serving.

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