I’ve been intrigued by Yankee Indian Pudding for quite some time. I most certainly did not grow up with cornmeal and sugar together in any dish. Cornbread in Texas is sugar-less. Furthermore, we do not associate with people who eat sweet grits with maple syrup for breakfast.
When it comes to cornmeal, you’re either in the savory camp or the sweet camp.
While I pledge allegiance to savory cornmeal (cornmeal-fried catfish and hush puppies will convert anyone), I couldn’t get the idea of sweet cornmeal pudding out of my head. I love cornmeal in all its shapes and forms, so why not with blueberries stirred in, and a crunchy sugar crust?
I made the cornmeal pudding on the stove with a touch of sugar. I stirred in butter and lemon zest for good measure. After pouring the pudding into serving dishes, I pressed in blueberries.
My dear Yankee friends: I understand that true Indian Pudding is baked with molasses, spices and tastes much like pumpkin pie. But, this lemon-y blueberry version is perfect for summer because it doesn’t require any oven-time.
The sugared blueberries on top are a special touch.
Now that I’m officially a traitor in the sweet cornmeal camp, I can’t decide if I like this pudding best served hot or cold.
You may certainly sprinkle the sugar on top and caramelize it with a blow torch right after making, or you can cover and chill before serving. It almost has a creme brûlée taste with its warm, crunchy sugar top and cool, creamy pudding.
I hope you enjoyed this variation of Indian Pudding!
Brûléed Indian Pudding with Blueberries
Yields: 2 4-oz ramekins
3 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal
1/2 cup milk (1% is fine)
1/2 cup half and half
4 tablespoons sugar, divided use
1/4 teaspoon (heaping) fresh lemon zest
2 tabelspoons unsalted butter
pinch of salt
20 fresh blueberries
maple syrup for serving (optional)
For the optional sparkling blueberries:
1/3 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan (preferably not non-stick), add the cornmeal. Slowly pour in the milk and half-and-half, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil while constantly stirring. Once the mixture is at a hard boil (it boils rapidly while being stirred), continue cooking while stirring for 2 minutes. Be careful: you might need to cover your hand with a towel to prevent splatter burns.
Remove from heat, and then stir in 2 tablespoons sugar, lemon zest, butter and salt. Stir very well. Divide the mixture between 2 small ramekins. Press the blueberries into the pudding in each ramekin. Press them deeply into the pudding. (When brûlée-ing, the blueberries pop and splatter if not covered by the pudding sufficiently).
When ready to serve, sprinkle the remaining sugar over each ramekin (1 tablespoon optional maple syrup.
To make the optional sparkling blueberries:
In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries and water. Turn the heat to medium and let blueberries cook without stirring for about 2 minutes. Don't let the water boil. The berries should deepen in color and soften slightly. Have the sugar waiting in a shallow bowl. When the berries are soft to the touch, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and drain lightly. Plunge them into the sugar mixture, stirring gently to coat. When the berries are covered in the sugar, remove them from the sugar and let them sit on a plate until dry. Serve with the Indian Puddings.
Christina Lane is the author of 3 cookbooks all about cooking and baking for two. She has scaled down hundreds of recipes into smaller servings so you can enjoy your favorite dishes without the leftovers! Valentine's Day is her favorite holiday.