When did lunch become so depressing? Do you also feel like you can’t recall the time your workday wasn’t bisected with a joylessly consumed sad desk salad or a hastily gobbled granola bar in the car? Lunch, why are you bumming me out?

Lately, I’ve been feeling inspired to reclaim my midday meal. Thankfully, my catalyst was Jessie Sheehan’s charming new book, “Snackable Bakes: 100 Easy-Peasy Recipes for Exceptionally Scrumptious Sweets and Treats.”

With an eye toward user-friendly recipes that come together quickly and don’t demand fancy ingredients or techniques, Sheehan also just happens to have created a book full of treats that pack well and store beautifully.

RELATED: Dinosaur nuggets and juice boxes: In defense of making lunch fun again

While you could make a pan of her brownies or a loaf of her banana bread to cheer up the unremarkable sandwich that awaits you this afternoon, why not instead take yourself back to the days when you actually liked lunch?

The pudding cup is far too delightful a confection to be confined to the elementary school cafeteria. While its appeal is universal, those of us of a certain age associate our childhood lunches with that extra exciting element of danger provided by the original metal Hunt’s Snack Pack container. If you or one of your friends wasn’t bleeding from the mouth after licking that melee weapon of a lid, was it even lunchtime?


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Though today I prefer my pudding in a less lethal plastic container, I still crave a flavor that evokes monkey bars and recess. I’ve simplified Sheehan’s use of milk and cream by substituting half-and-half, but you can go your own way here. The butterscotch chips may seem like an odd touch, but they hit all the right nostalgia flavor notes.

Making a batch gives you something to look forward to after lunch every single day of the week. Just please eat some of your celery sticks too, OK?

***

Recipe: Non-Lethal Butterscotch Pudding Cups
Inspired by Jessie Sheehan’s “Snackable Bakes”

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened

Directions

  1. Whisk the cornstarch, sea salt and dark brown sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot. Slowly pour in the half-and-half, stirring as you go to avoid clumps. Stir in the egg yolks. Everything should be nicely blended and not lumpy.
  2. Set the pot over medium-high heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring regularly until thickened.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the butterscotch chips, vanilla extract and butter until everything is melted and well incorporated.
  4. Pour the pudding into 8 individual plastic or glass containers. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or more. Enjoy after lunch, or any time you like.

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