Indian Pudding is a traditional New England dessert which can be traced back to the 18th century. I developed a fondness for it when I lived in the Boston area. For some reason, though, it is relatively unknown outside of New England.
Here is a brief history of the dish …
When British settlers moved to this country they brought their Hasty Pudding recipes with them. I’ve never had Hasty Pudding, but apparently it is a dish made from wheat cooked in water or milk until it develops the consistency of a porridge. Wheat was in short supply in New England, so the settlers adapted to the new world by substituting corn meal – which they called Indian flour. Being along a trade route with plentiful molasses and spices, they embellished the dish with these flavorful additions as well as with dried fruits and sometimes nuts … and thankfully, the new dessert, Indian Pudding, caught on.
Indian Pudding Ingredients
Butter or vegetable shortening to grease the cooking dish
4 c. milk (soy or almond milk can be substituted for vegan)
1 c. coarse cornmeal or polenta
4 T. melted butter (coconut oil can be substituted for vegan)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. unsulfured molasses
1/2 t. salt
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
2/3 c. dried fruits (such as raisins, yellow raisins, cranberries, cherries)
3 large eggs (3/4 c. packed pumpkin can be substituted for vegan)
(1) Prepare cook surface Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F. and grease a 2-quart baking dish; or grease and then preheat a crockpot on low or high heat. (A crockpot works well for holiday cooking when oven space is at a premium.)
(2) Cook the cornmeal Bring the milk (or substitute) to a low boil then whisk in cornmeal. Reduce heat to low, and continue to cook, whisking frequently until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is softened (about 15 to 20 minutes).
(3) Add remaining ingredients Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Once the cornmeal mixture has thickened and the cornmeal has softened, set it aside to cool slightly and then whisk in the mixture of remaining ingredients. If you are not using eggs, then you can skip the brief cooling period.
(4) Finish cooking Pour the pudding mixture into greased baking dish or crockpot. Bake in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes; or cook in the crockpot for 2 hours on high heat or 4 to 5 on low heat . The finished “pudding” will be quite thick.
(5) Serve Serve hot with ice cream or whipped cream and serve leftovers cold with ice cream, whipped cream or just milk.