Mention Indian Pudding to a non-New Englander, and you’ll likely draw a blank stare. Though it has always been staple on Thanksgiving tables in New England, the humble corn custard has largely drifted off the modern-day culinary map.
Historians trace this uniquely American dessert as far back as the 17th century. It most likely descended from England’s hasty pudding, a sweetened stove-top porridge made by stirring boiling milk or water with wheat flour. Indian pudding, however, uses cornmeal (called “Indian meal”), which was abundant to early settlers in New England, wheat wasn’t. At the same time, molasses was being produced in massive amounts for making rum and was a readily available, inexpensive sweetener during Boston’s rum trade in the 17th and 18th centuries. The coarse, lumpy custard, tinted brown with molasses, cinnamon, and ginger isn’t much to look at, but served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it is a bowl of pure comfort.
New England Indian Pudding
- Medium saucepan
- Large baking dish
- Medium bowl
- Small bowl or glass measuring cup
- Whisk, wooden spoon
- 3 cups Whole milk
- 4 tbsp Unsalted butter (plus a little to grease casserole dish)
- ½ cup Cornmeal
- 2 tbsp All-purpose flour
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- ½ cup Blackstrap molasses
- ¼ cup Maple syrup (optional)
- ½ tsp Vanilla extract
- ¼ cup Sugar
- ½ tsp Each: ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg
- ¼ tsp Ground allspice
- ½ cup Golden raisins
- 1 container Vanilla ice cream
- Preheat oven to 250°F (130°C). Grease a baking dish with butter.
- Make Batter – Warm the butter and milk in a medium saucepan over over low heat until butter melts.In a medium bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk the molasses and maple syrup with a ¼ cup of the milk mixture. Whisk this into the flour-cornmeal bowl.Now pour the bowl into the saucepan with milk and whisk to fully integrate everything. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, for 2 minutes.Whisk eggs in the medium bowl. Add a little of warmed milk-flour mixture into the eggs to temper. Pour eggs into the saucepan and gently whisk in sugar, vanilla extract, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and raisins. Remove from heat.
- Bake Pudding – Pour batter into baking dish and bake 2 hours. It should look like a dark brown moist cornbread. Cool for 15 minutes and scoop in bowls and top with some vanilla ice cream.
- Don’t skip the tempering step of adding a little of the hot milk mixture the beaten eggs. It will keep the eggs from scrambling when poured into the saucepan.