Gingersnap Pudding feature a spicy surprise: crushed cookies. Fotolia.com
By Wolfgang Puck
Tribune Media Services
Pudding has long been one of the ultimate comfort foods, both soothing and delicious. And, along with other old-fashioned treats like cupcakes and pies, the dessert has been coming back into vogue lately, with popular restaurants serving everything from caramel pudding (often finished with a touch of sea salt) to bittersweet chocolate pudding to old-fashioned banana or coconut puddings.
My retro spin on pudding here starts with a base mixture flavored and seasoned with crushed store-bought gingersnap cookies and spiced up a little bit more with touches of ground cinnamon and ground ginger, seasonings long valued for their ability to stoke the fires of romance.
Next, you prepare a brown-sugar caramel syrup, which will give the pudding even richer, deeper flavor. Take special care at this stage, first by watching to make sure the syrup doesn't scorch; and then when adding the creamy base to the syrup, keeping safely clear of the mixture as it bubbles up. (Use a long-handled whisk for stirring!)
Adding a mixture of eggs, egg yolks, and cornstarch is the last stage, contributing a thick, custardy, smooth consistency to the pudding. Be sure to follow the recipe directions for slowly whisking the hot mixture into the eggs, a process known as tempering, which ensure that the results will be as smooth as possible.
Before the pudding goes into individual serving dishes for chilling in the refrigerator, I like to stir in a little butter for even greater richness. At this point, you can also include a splash of rum for a more grownup version of the recipe.
A few hours later, this delicious pudding is ready to be served. Top it off, if you wish, with a dollop of lightly whipped cream, and pop in a whole gingersnap cookie to nibble on.
3 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup finely crushed store-bought gingersnaps
5 ounces packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
3 egg yolks
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2-1/2 ounces unsalted butter
1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)
In a medium-sized heavy saucepan away from the heat, whisk together the cream, milk, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Whisk in the crushed gingersnaps.
Put the pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave for the mixture to steep for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a mixing bowl, pressing the ingredients through with a rubber spatula.
In a large saucepan, stir together the brown sugar, water, and kosher salt. Put the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; continue boiling, watching constantly and stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until the mixture turns a deep-brown caramel color.
Remove the pan from the heat and, immediately but very carefully, whisk in the gingersnap-and-cream mixture, which will bubble. Continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and fully blended.
Return the pan to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a medium-sized heatproof mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch. While whisking continuously, carefully and slowly pour in about half of the hot mixture. Then stir in the remainder.
Pour the entire mixture back into the large saucepan. Whisking continuously over medium heat, cook until the mixture reaches a very thick custard consistency, about 2 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the butter and, if you like, the rum.
Pour or spoon the pudding evenly among 10 serving bowls or glasses. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.
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This was printed in the May 6, 2012 - May 19, 2012 Edition