This is a glamorous version of the traditional New England “Indian pudding,” originally a plain-looking mix of cornmeal, milk and molasses. It takes a cake shape that can be delightfully iced with orange-zested, maple-sweetened whipped cream to really look like a cake—one that solves the gluten-free problem. It’s a perfect and very appropriate Thanksgiving dessert along with traditional apple pie because it showcases New England ingredients, and it can be a tasty end to a Christmas feast of roasted ham or turkey. Any leftovers make a terrific breakfast.
5 cups milk
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons butter
2 extra-large or jumbo eggs
⅓ cup light brown sugar
½ cup molasses
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 pinch salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins (dark ones show up easier)
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
Whipped Cream Icing:
1 pint heavy whipping cream
½ cup confectioners’ sugar (approximately)
1 teaspoon orange zest
Finely grated ginger and/or a bit of cinnamon for sprinkling on top
Whip a pint of heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add confectioners’ sugar and orange zest. Continue beating until very stiff peaks form. Use a long metal icing spatula to ice the pudding as if it were a cake. When done, dust the top with a bit of finely grated ginger and, if you like, a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Preheat over to 325°F. Butter a 3-quart soufflé dish or charlotte mold or other deep ovenproof baking dish.
In a very large saucepan or medium casserole, scald the milk. (This means bring it to a boil fast over high heat so a skin forms and bubbles appear.) Whisk in the cornmeal and continue to whisk over medium or medium-high heat (depends on the strength of your burners) until the mixture thickens (90 seconds to 3 minutes).
Preheat oven to 325°.
Remove from heat. Whisk in the butter, then carefully the eggs. Whisk in brown sugar, molasses and maple syrup. Whisk in salt and spices. Stir in the raisins and apples, distributing them evenly.
Pour the mixture into baking dish; shake to level. Bake in the center of the oven for 40–50 minutes, or until the center of the pudding is firm when you shake the pan. Remove from oven and cool.
You can simply spoon this from the pan and top with vanilla ice cream, or you can invert the pan onto a cake stand or serving platter and ice it with whipped cream as though it is a cake.