Indian Pudding

November 25, 2014

A few years ago, Mike and I took a fall vacation to New England.  Even though it was pre-food blog, the things that stand out most about that trip are food related.  Boston's tourist highlights are intertwined with culinary memories of the mysteriously named "Eight Delight" that Mike ordered at a little restaurant in Chinatown (it ended up being rice mixed with a variety of animal proteins, including miniature octopuses); a bowl of clam chowder at Faneuil Hall; pumpkin cake doughnuts from the Dunkin' Donuts that seemed to be located on every street corner; and of course, the infamous Oatmeal to Go.   Maine's Acadia National Park has beautiful ocean vistas, but just as memorable was the "tea" of popovers and ice cream we had at the Jordan Pond House.  Fittingly, I experienced my first whole boiled lobster at a quirky restaurant in Bar Harbor, Maine and I had to use my iPhone to look up instructions for how to eat it.

Clam Chowder at Faneuil Hall
Clam chowder at Faneuil Hall
Eating my first boiled lobster in Bar Harbor
Eating my first boiled lobster in Bar Harbor, Maine

But the highlight of the trip was a dinner at Bass Harbor, Maine's Seafood Ketch, a restaurant Mike remembered from annual childhood trips to Acadia.  Their marvelous lobster roll, heavy on the lobster and light on the mayo, has become the standard against which I compare all other lobster rolls.  Mike got a steak, because despite a childhood in Maine, he is inexplicably lukewarm about seafood.  As we ate, we watched the sunset from our harborside table.  And then, because nearly all good meals end with dessert, we split an order of Indian pudding.

Indian pudding is a traditional New England dessert made of cornmeal seasoned with molasses, cinnamon, and ginger, and optionally topped with whipped or ice cream.  Although the low-and-slow baking time means you need to plan this dessert in advance, the ingredients are probably already in your pantry and the preparation is simple (and speaking from experience, there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating dessert at 9:30 pm, if the urge to make Indian pudding suddenly strikes you after dinner).

I've tried several Indian pudding recipes over the years, and this one is my favorite.  It's not terribly sweet, but the molasses gives it a satisfyingly rich flavor.  I suspect that you can use whatever type of milk you please--I've had success with whole, skim, and soy milks.  To ensure a smooth texture, it's important to continuously stir the pudding while it cooks.  Refrigerate any leftovers and reheat--I think it's even better the second day.

Adapted from the recipe by Devlin Burke

Ingredients:

Indian Pudding Ingredients
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a 2 quart casserole dish.

Heat milk over medium heat in a small saucepan until bubbles form around the edges and the milk starts to steam, about 5 minutes.  Slowly stir in the cornmeal and molasses.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture has the consistency of a thick sauce and has just started to boil, about 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in sugar, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.  Pour pudding into prepared casserole dish.

Indian Pudding Before Baking

Bake until pudding has set and a thin skin has formed on top, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Indian Pudding

Serve warm, topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

Indian Pudding
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