Pudding: Dessert Serving Nostaligia

Pudding is the newest retro rediscovery

In 2009, cupcakes had the nostalgic dessert corner covered. And although buttercream frosting is great, we're putting our money on pudding as the retro-flaunting meal-closer for 2010.

Its presence on the menu of casual restaurants like Portland's The Country Cat Dinner House & Bar is fitting enough: Here, co-owner and pastry chef Jackie Sappington serves a trio of puddings–butterscotch, chocolate and crème brûlée–with baked-to-order cookies.

But pudding's found a home in big city-dining destinations as well, like L.A.'s Jar, where a creamy chocolate iteration arrives in a rocks glass with tangy crème fraîche and a dusting of cocoa powder.

At New York newcomer Joseph Leonard, chef Jim McDuffee enhances his addictive salted-caramel pudding with a buttery crunch by adding a cookie-crumb topping. And at FIVE in Berkeley, chef Scott Howard elevates basic butterscotch by lacing his pudding (pictured) with vanilla beans and crowning it with crumbles of peanut brittle.

But perhaps the best place to indulge in this comforting classic is also the most obvious: at home. Retire the Jell-O box and try The Country Cat's boozy butterscotch recipe (click here to download) for a sultry dessert that's better suited to late nights than school lunches.