Indian Pudding Revisited

A pie or two for Thanksgiving is expected, so why not this year try something a little different, an Indian Pudding — a dessert with a whiff of old school New England, but still a novelty for most guests.

In its most basic form, Indian Pudding is a type of English hasty pudding, a sweetened porridge, adapted to American staples, cornmeal and molasses.

If that sounds strange, don’t be put off. Most recipes are a near dead-ringer for pumpkin pie, without the crust, and others are closer to a rich porridge custard, but our choice — adapted from Nick Maglieri — takes us back to its roots. No eggs. No leavening. Not pumpkin-pie spices. Just cinnamon.

We’ve tried a lot of recipes before we settled here.

It’s less sweet. Less rich.

If we wanted pumpkin pie, we’d bake pumpkin pie. The cornmeal here stars a little more — so be sure to use a good variety — and the texture is creamy, but soft-set, almost breakfast-like.

I take mine with a splash of heavy cream or beaten cream, but you can serve it with ice cream if you like something sweeter.

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Recipe

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

  1. Lightly butter a 2 quart bean pot or baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Set aside 1 cup of milk, and pour the remaining 3 1/2 cups of milk, and sugar, into a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a simmer over low heat.
  3. In the meantime, in a small bowl whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk and cornmeal.
  4. Gradually, whisk the cornmeal-milk mixture into the simmering milk. Reduce heat to low.
  5. Continue cooking, stirring often, for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the molasses, butter, cinnamon and salt.
  7. Pour the mixture into the buttered dish and bake for about an hour until lightly set.
  8. Cool slightly and serve warm with either lightly-sweetened beaten cream, ice cream or a generous splash of cream.

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