Friday, December 16, 2011

What's for Dessert? Indian Pudding

We had our hugely-anticipated progressive holiday dinner last weekend. I say hugely-anticipated because so many people in the supper club that we're now part of were just soooooo excited about it. And the more they talked it up, the more it seemed like it was going to be a big fancy production and, of course, the more I became filled with dread.

Anyhow, we managed to get off the hook for hosting one of the stops for dinner, mostly because we don't have enough plates to entertain 12 people and forget about finding a seat for all of them. But, I did volunteer to piggy back with one of the host homes.

I figured dessert would be easiest to help out with and transport. And since I was picking an easy option, I decided to challenge myself and try something new. The weekend before I did a test run with a couple recipes just to make sure they were fit to serve.

I made a pumpkin rice pudding, which sounded yummy in theory, but not so good in reality. I thought it was way to sweet, but Scoob liked it and gobbled up pretty much the entire pot over the course of the week.

I also tried this Indian Pudding, which I adore. Think pumpkin pie without the crust. And without the pumpkin, for that matter. But it has that consistency and flavor.

It's not very pretty, so no pictures. I was thinking if I baked it in little ramekins it might look a little more table worthy, but I'd need to figure out how to adjust the cooking times.

Indian Pudding

Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 3 hours 30 minutes

    4 cups whole milk
    ⅔ cup finely ground cornmeal
    ½ cup molasses
    4 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
    ¼ cup light or dark brown sugar
    ½ tsp kosher salt
    1 tsp ground ginger
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, plus more for garnishing
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream, whipped to firm peaks

  1. Heat oven to 350° F

  2. In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring 3 cups of the milk to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining milk and the cornmeal. Whisking constantly, slowly add the mixture to the boiling milk. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the molasses, butter, brown sugar, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.

  3. Transfer to a buttered 1 1/2-quart casserole dish. Set the casserole in a roasting pan, pull the oven rack out halfway, and place the pan on it. Carefully add enough hot water to the pan to reach halfway up the casserole. Cover both pans with a single large sheet of foil. Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil. Bake until the pudding is almost set but still wobbly,1 1/2 hours more. Transfer casserole to a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Spoon onto plates. Serve with the whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg.

I missed the extra butter in the pan the first time around but didn't have any problems with it sticking, so I think you could skip it. I also skipped the heavy cream; with the 4 cups of milk (and the 6 cups in the rice pudding) I figured I was pushing the lactose-sensitive envelope.

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