Unless you’ve lived in New England, you might not have heard of Indian pudding.
The cornmeal-based dessert is considered one of the country’s first truly American recipes. Historians have argued that the Wampanoag Indians, who helped the pilgrims grow food their first year in what is now Massachusetts, might have showed them how to dry the summer harvest of corn and grind the kernels into a cornmeal that could be used in many ways throughout the year.
Some experts have said that this molasses-sweetened cornmeal pudding might have even been on the first Thanksgiving table.
“You have Indian corn, which you have to come over here to have — it’s not in England at all. The milk from the cows that are brought over here by the European settlers. There’s the molasses that comes with the trade with the Caribbean,” food historian Kathleen Wall, who works at the Colonial living museum in Plymouth, told NPR a few years ago. “And so it is, to my mind, a New England dish. It is not an English dish, or a Colonial dish; it belongs to all of New England.”
Prolific cookbook authors Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough live in New England, and this Indian pudding-inspired ice cream is one of the treats in their newest book, “A la Mode: 120 Recipes in 60 Pairings: Pies, Tarts, Cakes, Crisps, and More Topped with Ice Cream, Gelato, Frozen Custard, and More” (St. Martin’s Griffin, $24.99).
They pair it with a squash and honey pie, but this slightly savory ice cream would be great with any fall pie because of the warming flavors of molasses, ginger and cinnamon. Make it this week so you can have it on hand for Thanksgiving.
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground dried ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
Combine the cream, milk and cornmeal in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, whisking almost constantly, until bubbling. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly, whisking constantly, until thick and rich like cream of wheat cereal, about 10 minutes.
Put the brown sugar, molasses, egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, ginger, cinnamon and salt in a large blender canister. Cover but remove the lid’s center knob. With the blender running, pour the hot cream mixture through the hole in the lid in a slow, steady stream. Scrape down the inside of the canister and blend until smooth. Put the center knob back in the blender’s lid and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours.
Prepare an ice-cream machine. Blend the cold custard one more time, then freeze it in the machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until you can spoon up a mound with edges that do not instantly begin to melt. Store in a sealed container in the freezer for up to 1 week.
— From “A la Mode: 120 Recipes in 60 Pairings: Pies, Tarts, Cakes, Crisps, and More Topped with Ice Cream, Gelato, Frozen Custard, and More” by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough (St. Martin’s Griffin, $24.99)