Not So Pretty, But Amazingly Delicious: Indian Pudding

Indian Pudding isn’t the prettiest dessert, and it doesn’t sound so promising either. It is basically cornmeal mush sweetened with molasses and spices, mixed with eggs and baked in the oven like a custard. It comes out of the oven looking like brown porridge (kind of the color of cholent).

This lack of obvious appeal is probably why Indian Pudding languishes in dessert obscurity, eclipsed by pretty much every cake, cookie, and pie out there.

In New England, they appreciate this dessert and serve warm bowls of it topped with vanilla ice cream.

Try it once and you will be won over. You will swoon at the smooth texture and the luscious, spicy, buttery sweetness.

I was going to make the Indian Pudding recipe from Historic Deerfield, as printed in the New York Times (November 1990). But, then I spotted this enticing recipe at Food on the Food.  I ended up making a mash-up of both recipes.

Indian Pudding
Adapted from NYT’s recipe and from Food on the Food, who, in turn, adapted it from  Fannie Farmer (see original recipe here on Cookstr).

Heat in a saucepan:
4 cups milk (you can use just 2 cups for a firmer pudding, which is what Deerfield Inn does)
½ cup molasses
½ cup maple syrup or sugar, or brown sugar (I used Log Cabin Natural, which is brown sugar syrup flavored with maple)

When the milk is not quite bubbling, slowly sprinkle in the cornmeal while stirring/whisking the milk:
½ cup cornmeal

Be patient here or the cornmeal will seize up into hard lumps. This happened to me. Don’t let it happen to you.
Keep stirring, cooking at a gentle simmer, for another 15-20 minutes, or until is thickened. (The alternative to stirring regularly is using a double-boiler). Basically, you are making polenta.

Once it is thickened (like cream of wheat cereal), add:
2-4 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
1/2-1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp.  nutmeg

Beat the eggs, and add gradually add some of the hot cornmeal porridge to the bowl of eggs to gradually warm them (temper them), and then add the tempered eggs to the pot of cornmeal porridge:
2 eggs, well beaten

Be careful about tempering the eggs–if you just dump the cold eggs into the hot porridge, you can end up with bits of scrambled eggs.

Put the cornmeal mixture into a greased two quart casserole and bake it at 325 degrees for about an hour and a half (or 350 degrees for about 35 minutes), or until the mixture is set.

Using the extra liquid (4 cups instead of 2) results in a very soft pudding which gives off some extra liquid (like cottage cheese whey). This “whey” pools into a delicious spicy butterscotch maple sauce at the bottom of the dish.

Nice served warm with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon flavored whipped cream.

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2 Responses to “Not So Pretty, But Amazingly Delicious: Indian Pudding”

  1. shoshana kleiman Says:

    I fell in love with Indian pudding in high school. Unfortunately, for the past 26 years I have not found anyone with whom to share my passion (especially topped with vanilla ice cream).

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