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This is a classic New England dessert my mother would make during the fall months. She would always make it in a deep, small dish, but I like a shallow (about 2-2 1/2 quart capacity) baking dish. The caramelized apples give the dessert a lighter, fruitier touch. I chose some of my favorite apple varieties for their flavor and ability to hold their shape while cooking. At my local farmers’ market, the guys always have great apple suggestions, and every season I like to pick a new apple variety and make it my “apple of the season.” Last year, I got stuck on the Mutsu for its tart, but also somewhat sweet-when-cooked flavor and crisp texture. This year, I am in search of the perfect cooking apple. What would that entail? An apple that would hold its shape when cooked and also retain a lot of flavor. Not an easy task. I am currently experimenting with Braeburn and Empire apples.
Serves 8-10 people
3 cups whole milk
1/2 stick butter, plus a little additional butter for greasing the baking dish
¼ cup cornmeal
1/8 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup molasses
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ cup golden raisins
6 Braeburn, Rome or Empire apples, washed, dried, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
Zest of 1/2 lemon and the juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups whipped cream without sugar or sour cream for topping (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
2. Combine the milk and butter in a pot and warm over low heat. Add the butter and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 3 minutes until the butter melts.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt and molasses and whisk to blend. Whisk a little of the milk mixture into the bowl with the cornmeal. Add the remaining milk to the cornmeal and whisk until the ingredients are fully integrated. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
4. Temper the eggs by putting them in a bowl and gradually whisking in some of the cornmeal mix. Pour everything into a double boiler and gently stir in the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and raisins.
5. Pour into a greased casserole dish and bake for 2 hours.
6. Meanwhile, place the apples on a flat surface and cut them each into 8-10 equal-sized wedges. Heat a large skillet and add the butter. Toss in the apples and stir to coat them with the butter. Sprinkle them with the brown sugar and cook, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon, until the apples are tender and yield slightly when pierced with the tip of a small knife. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and ground ginger. Stir to blend. Keep them warm while the pudding cooks.
7. When the pudding is cooked, allow it to cool and top with the apples. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream or sour cream, if desired.
Every week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.