March 3, 2013

Bear Essentials: Pudding
( + Licorice Pudding )

                          I know I've already angered, like, half of you.  And I'm okay with that.

                                            We can't all like black licorice.

                               No one's suggesting that you're required to like black licorice.  

                      They might be suggesting that you're irrationally making your world 
                    a more bleak and depressing place with your unfounded distaste    
                                      for one of nature's greatest inventions....

                                           But it's not like anyone's telling you what to do.

                                          That just leaves more pudding for the rest of us.

         I'm not going to lie - the idea of licorice pudding is one that takes a little getting used to.          Creamy + Licorice is not a typical pairing.  The first time I made this recipe, it was mostly out      
  of curiosity.

           And I still think that it's best served as a curiosity.  As much as I love licorice, I couldn't 
      eat an entire bowl of it in one sitting.  Where this pudding would shine is in tiny cups as part 
                 of a larger set of dessert offerings.  Shake things up.  Try something new.  

                       And I think that's the perfect note on which to end Pudding Week.

Licorice Pudding
from Gourmet

Good-Quality Black Licorice  [ very finely chopped, 3/4 cup - about 3.5 ounces ]
Salt  [ 1/4 teaspoon ]
Whole Milk  [ 4 1/2 cups ]
Sugar  [ 1/3 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons ]
Cornstarch  [ 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ]
Egg Yolks  [ 3 ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 1 1/2 tablespoons ]

1.   In a medium heavy pot, mix Licorice, Salt, 4 cups Milk, and 1/3 cup Sugar.
2.   Stirring often, heat over Medium-Low heat for 18-20 minutes.  If Licorice has not dissolved at this point,
      remove pot from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. 
3.  Strain any remaining bits of Licorice out of Milk Mixture by pouring it through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl.
4.   Return Milk Mixture to Medium heat and bring to a slow simmer.
5.   In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 1/2 cup Milk and Cornstarch.
6.   Whisk Cornstarch Mixture into simmering Milk Mixture.
7.   Simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened.  This will take about 2 minutes.
8.   In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons Sugar and Egg Yolks.
9.   In a slow stream, while whisking constantly,  mix about 1/2 cup hot Milk Mixture into Egg Yolk Mixture.
10.   In a slow stream, whisking constantly, mix Egg Yolk Mixture into remaining Milk Mixture in pot.
11.   Stirring constantly, cook Pudding over Medium heat until it reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit. 
12.   Pour Pudding through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
13.   Stir Butter into Pudding until fully melted and mixed.
14.   Cover surface of Pudding with plastic wrap to keep it from forming a skin.
15.   Chill in refrigerator until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours.

Serves 6-8

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