Saturday, November 20, 2010

Indian Pudding






During their early years in the New World, the colonists could only dream of the plum puddings of Old England. Even a simple milk pudding or bread pudding seemed out of the question because of the absence of wheat flour. But there was, of course, Indian cornmeal.  With the increase in the number of dairy cattle brought to Plymouth Colony from England during the late 1620's, milk and milk products became somewhat more plentiful and the Pilgrims could begin to approach the idea of an English-style milke pudding. Wheat flour was still scarce, of course, so they used cornmeal instead and called the new creamy, baked dessert "Indian" pudding, even though it contained such non-Indian ingredients as milk, eggs, butter, molasses for sweetening, and pinches of such exotic spices as cinnamon and ginger. Thick cream, when available, was poured over the pudding - another non-Indian and distinctly English touch. The molasses that went into the New England Indian pudding was a special case, for it was neither British nor American Indian in origin. It was the product of Yankee business enterprise as expressed through the New England sea trade.
Growing up in New England, this is one of my mom's favorite desserts. I made this for her birthday dessert and it came out so perfect! Absolutely something for you to try...especially on Thanksgiving!!
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Lightly grease a 6- or 8-cup soufflé or baking dish with butter (you can use margarine, but DON’T use non-stick sprays).

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat, scald the milk.

While the milk is heating, pour the cream into a medium to large bowl, add the cornmeal, sugar, molasses, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Add this cream/corn meal/spice mixture to the scalded milk. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-low heat until the pudding has thickened to the consistency of syrup (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat.

In a bowl, beat eggs with a whisk. Temper the eggs by adding 1/2 cup of the hot cornmeal mixture to the eggs while whisking rapidly. Vigorously whisk the egg mixture into the remaining cornmeal mixture. Add butter, one piece at a time, stirring until melted.

Pour mixture into the prepared soufflé dish, and place dish on a shallow baking pan on the center oven rack. Pour enough HOT water into the shallow baking dish to come 2/3 of the way up the outsides of the soufflé or baking dish.

Bake until pudding is set, a tester inserted close to (but not in) the center comes out clean, usually about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and remove from the water bath and let cool slightly.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or heavy cream.

Makes 8 to 16 servings (depending on your sweet tooth)






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