I have only ever had Indian Pudding once in my life so far and that was this past October when I visited Cape Cod with Todd. My first Indian Pudding was absolutely fantastic and was served with whipped cream and sweet corn ice cream. Unfortunately, I have not had Indian Pudding since then because it is not a very common dessert in New Jersey. In fact, it’s only really popular in the New England area. It wasn’t until last January when I visited Boston that I first heard of Indian Pudding. When I saw it on the menu at a restaurant I had no clue what it was. Ever since having it this past October I have been wanting to try my own hand at this dessert. When Todd and I decided to make a New England inspired Valentine’s Day dinner it only seemed appropriate to make Indian Pudding for dessert.
So what exactly is Indian Pudding? Indian Pudding is a dessert made of cornmeal boiled with scalded milk, sweetened with molasses, and cooked slowly until thickened, then baked until set and most commonly served with ice cream, hard sauce or whipped cream. We chose to serve ours with homemade whipped cream. Indian pudding dates to the Colonial days of America, when newly arrived Colonists at Plymouth, Massachusetts, and elsewhere tried to recreate dishes of their homeland with the ingredients they had on available to them in the new land. Indian pudding is derived from the British hasty pudding, a dish made from wheat flour or oatmeal boiled with milk. Colonists did not yet have quantities of wheat flour, so they made their hasty pudding with cornmeal, which they had in abundance, thanks to the Native Americans, or Indians—hence the name.
For Christmas, Christina got me the New York Times Cookbook and as I perused the book I spotted a recipe for Indian Pudding. I decided to use that recipe and discovered that this recipe was the more traditional way of making indian pudding. This recipe is very simple and does not have many ingredients. After I made this, I was looking at other recipes for Indian Pudding and noticed that a bunch of others called for many more ingredients including butter and eggs. But this recipe just sticks to the basics: whole milk, corn meal, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. This recipe is intended to serve 6 people, but Todd and I pretty much ate the whole pan leaving about only one serving.
Indian Pudding (serves 6 small portions)
- 1/3 cup yellow corn meal
- 4 cups Whole Milk
- 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. Ginger
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 1/3-1/2 cup molasses (to taste)
- Spiced Hard Sauce, Whipped Cream or Ice Cream (for serving)
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix 1/2 cup milk with the corn meal in a small bowl. Scald the rest of the milk by bringing it almost to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in the moistened corn meal and all the other pudding ingredients. Simmer, stirring often, until the corn meal is cooked and the pudding has thickened like polenta for about 20 minutes.
- Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking dish. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours; the pudding should still be loose on top but firm underneath. Serve with hard sauce, whipped cream, or ice cream.