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Indian pudding

Indian pudding is not to be confused with kheer, the South Asian pudding made with basmati rice. It’s made with cornmeal, so should not to be confused with corn pudding, either, which is a savory dish made with sweetcorn. No, it’s an old New England dessert I’ve heard about for years, but have never tried. The combination of ingredients appeals to me: cornmeal, maple, ginger, and molasses. True, this is by no means a traditional version—because of the ginger (and the other spices, which I don’t think were available in the 17th century North America?), golden syrup, maple sugar (instead of syrup, because lo! I found an extra packet hiding in the cupboard), and the extra rice flour I had. 😉 But it is warmingly good for cold days (and nights), and easy to make.

Overall verdict: Tastes like pumpkin pie filling, minus the crust. A bonus if you can’t or don’t want to hunt down canned pumpkin, or deal with eviscerating a winter squash.

Indian puddingYes, this pudding has a skin. It is not known for its beauty. The skin is full of tasty caramelized goodness.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 ounces (roughly 1/2 cup) cornmeal; I used a finely stone-ground yellow cornmeal.
  • 1 3/8 ounces (roughly 1/4 cup) brown rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch each (1/8 teaspoon total) of allspice and cloves
  • 1 3/4 ounces (roughly 3/8 cup) maple sugar
  • 4 cups milk; I used lowfat, because that’s what’s always in the fridge, but whole milk would be fine.
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • canola oil, for greasing

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF degrees; I used the convection baking setting, so you may need to increase a non-convection oven by about 25ºF. Grease a 2 to 3 quart baking dish (glass or ceramic) with the oil. To ease pouring of the molasses and golden syrup, grease a measuring cup with the oil beforehand.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients (cornmeal, rice flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt, allspice, cloves, and maple sugar) together in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Whisk in 3 1/2 cups of the milk and the heavy cream, until no dry lumps remain.
  3. Set the pot to simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk every few minutes to avoid lump formation and sticking, and continue to simmer over low heat until thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. I keep the pot covered most of the time, to reduce the chance of skin formation
  4. Remove pot from the heat. Whisk in the butter, molasses, golden syrup, and remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Whisk in the eggs, since the batter should be now cool enough to avoid prematurely scrambling them.
  5. Pour the batter into the baking dish. If the dish is on the small side, i.e., the batter comes up less than 1 inch from the top, place it on a baking sheet to catch potential drips during baking.
  6. Place the dish in the oven, uncovered, and lower the temperature to 300ºF (or 325ºF, if without convection). Bake until the top of the pudding has just started to crack and go dark brown, about 1 hour and 10 to 15 minutes. The pudding should jiggle, but not be soupy when you gently shake it.
  7. Serve hot or warm, with (or without) whipped cream.

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