Molasses-Ginger Grits Pudding

September 14, 2016

molasses-ginger-grits-pudding-in-baking-pan-served-with-cream

With a texture somewhere between custard and cake, this dreamy dessert is what you call a proper pudding. But this is no stodgy pudding of yore. A lot of exciting stuff is happening here, starting with a crunchy walnut topping that, once breached, lays open the spice of cardamom, allspice, and ginger. The plush heirloom grits pudding underneath has bits of candied ginger and three forms of cane—molasses, brown sugar, and dark rum—each infusing their earthy, almost smoky flavors. It’s the right combination to warm the belly and sooth the soul on a cold and biting day.

Flip the seasons and the spicy, cake-like pudding is the perfect platform for the sparkling flavor of seasonal fruit—from rhubarb to strawberries, peaches to plums, blueberries to blackberries, figs to persimmons. Add a dribble of cool cream and you’ve created one amazing dessert.
      Then there’s breakfast. When a bowl of warm Molasses-Ginger Grits Pudding mixes with enough milk (or cream!), it transforms into a heavenly whole grain porridge. For a healthy take, replace Candied Ginger with raisins or dried fruit, and top with a nutty granola.

 

Some Prep Notes

• The recipe makes about 5 cups of batter, the right amount for an 8 x 8” or 7 x 10” baking dish. Any other 1½ - or 2-quart baking dish will work as well.

• We recommend making the base batch of grits extra smooth and creamy. Check out Grits Basics: 5 Tips to Make Perfect Stone Ground Grits for thoughts on straining chaff and presoaking grits.   

• For a Candied Ginger shortcut, use purchased candied ginger mixed with ¼ cup honey. Or replace ginger for tangy dried cranberries or golden raisins.

• The Crunchy Nut Topping calls for corn flour which you can make from Barkley’s Mill Heirloom Grits if you have a food mill or spice grinder. Grind a little more than ¼ cup of grits until light and powdery then sift through a fine mesh strainer. Measure again and discard the remains. Substitute purchased corn flour (not cornstarch!) or substitute more wheat flour.

• Feel free to improvise. Maple syrup is a fine replacement for molasses. Trade out dark rum with your preferred tipple—Cognac, B&B, bourbon—or replace the alcohol with more cream. For the topping, try pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts.

Makes 8 to 10 servings  |  Cooking time: About 90 minutes, including preparing the grits

 

Ingredients

Candied Ginger
  • ¼ cup peeled and diced fresh ginger—about ⅛-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
Grits Pudding
  • 3 cups prepared and cooled Barkley's Mill Stone Ground Heirloom Grits (prep details follow)
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ⅓ cup milk, preferably heavy cream or evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup dark rum (optional)
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 eggs, beaten
Crunchy Nut Topping
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup corn flour (see Some Prep Notes)
  • ½ cup brown sugar, preferably dark
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and softened
  • 1½ cups chopped walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon coarse grained salt, like Hawaiian pink salt or Celtic sea salt (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F with a rack in the center position. Grease a 1½ - to 2-quart baking dish.

Make the Candied Ginger
In a small saucepan, combine the ginger, sugar, and water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced by half. The syrup should be about as thick as honey in how it sticks to the spoon. Stop cooking if it begins to darken. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of butter. Set aside.

Make the Grits Pudding
Prepare the grits following the recipe for Basic Stovetop Grits, or Basic Pressure Cooker Grits. Include 2 tablespoons of butter but omit the salt. For the cooking liquid, we recommend a 50/50 blend of water and milk or half-and-half.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the grits with the Candied Ginger mixture, molasses, milk, rum, ginger, allspice, and cardamom. Add the beaten eggs and whisk to combine. (Note: if grits are too warm the eggs will curdle.) Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Make the Crunchy Nut Topping
In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Mix in the all-purpose flour, corn flour, and the walnuts. The mixture will become very dry—you'll probably need to blend with your fingers at some point.

Prepare and Bake the Pudding
Using your fingers, lightly press the Crunchy Nut Topping into flat rounds about the size of a quarter and dot them across the top of the pudding. It’s OK if they sink a little—they’ll rise back up during baking. Sprinkle the coarse salt over the top, if using.

Bake the pudding at 350˚ F until the topping has melted and flattened out a bit—about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325˚ F and continue baking until the sides of the pudding are set and the center is still slightly jiggly—another 30 to 35 minutes.

The final step is to brown and crisp the topping. Turn the broiler on high and toast the top until it’s deep golden brown—about 4 to 7 minutes, depending on your oven. Stand by and watch closely as it broils—the topping can go from browned to burned in seconds.

Remove the pudding from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes or more before serving. The topping will become crunchier and the center will firm up as it cools down.

Serve Molasses-Ginger Grits Pudding with warm milk or cream, topped with fruit, if you like.

 





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