Desserts are anytime, the most wanted course in a meal especially for parties. According to Indian traditions, breakfast and lunch is always served along with desserts. In some parts desserts are served first when starting a meal. Considering this fact, it wont be a wonder, when taking the festivals and special occasions, where multitudes of desserts are served.
What exactly is a pudding or are puddings? Since we Indians were ruled by British, we still follow terms, usgaes, language, food and dressing which are in many ways similar to the British pattern. Puddings are one amonst them. In America or rest of the world, its often called desserts. I have categorized this into something soft, creamy, luscious sweet based dishes which are cooked,steamed, baked or uncooked and forms a set base. But there are also savory puddings like the steamed or baked ones like steak & kidney, black or white pudding, phease etc. So when you take this into consideration, it which is something like a set base with toppings or fillings as I mentioned.
Pudding is a name of a dessert or any dessert course. When going back to pudding history you find some interesting facts. There should be a mother or an ancestor for this category. Dumpling is said to have been the mother of the origin of puddings. Though I’m not sure about this version, it is said that dumplings got larger and larger which later turned into puddings. I’m not convinced by this at all.
Many historical books, plays and stories have mentioned about pudding which dates back to 200 years. Thomas Dalton, Shakeshpere have all mentioned about black pudding, haggis pudding and pudding in a pot in their stories and books. Sausages and intestines were used in the early puddings. These were stuffed with nuts, berries and raisns along with cereals. From there it might have evolved as in any other field and modern day savory and sweet puddings were born.
Every festival is celebrated with desserts, sweets and puddings. Easter and Xmas are the times when a whole range of desserts and puddings cooked in different ways with and without fillings are made, served and gifted. So this Easter I chose to do this pineapple pudding which is so popular amongst my family and friends that I thought sharing with followers and subscribers.
Pineapple is generously used in this pudding along with its essence. This is a completely vegetarian dish which can be used by one and all. China grass is the binding factor for this dish. China grass is availble in different qualities which is also known as agar-agar. By the way agar agar is a red marine algae is also a sea weed which contains soluble fiber. It also means jelly in many Asian languages. This weed is not soluble in cold liquids but forms a liquid on heating. This when cooled down will form jello like masses which exactly is the reason why it is used in culinary arena. This is also widely used in pharmaceutical area too.
Popularly known as vegetarian gelatin, this is used as thickener in many foods. It is used in pie fillings, meringues, puddings, ice creams, donut glaze, sauces, noodles, cured meat, cheeses and canned food to name a few. I usually soak it in water normal water for couple of hours and later cook in the same water to melt it completely. I started doing this when couple of times I faced problems when boiling it. Sometimes, some quality grass are so hard it is obstinate not to melt and my desserts turned out a flop. After that I never take the risk of melting it directly in water.
Right amount of China grass will give you the right texture for pudding. If in excess, the pudding will become hard in nature and less in amount it’ll become watery. So the right proportion of China grass is very important for this pudding. This is applicable for all the dishes where agar agar is used. This is the main point to be noted when making this dessert. Milk, evaporated milk and condensed milk will give that rich creamy taste to this dessert. Evaporated milk can be replaced with condensed milk fully thus avoiding the sugar part.
Good quality pineapple will give you a flavorsome pudding. Chopping into pretty little cubes avoiding the middle hard part and the cones. Cinnamon and cloves will add on to the flavor giving a punch to this pudding. Cashew nuts will give that crunch cutting across the sugar very well. Cherries and dates are what I use normally for layering, but you can go with your preference, though this is complimented well with each other. Pineapple should be cooked well and tender. It should be moist and at the same time golden in color without retaining any syrup.
Caramelization is what takes this pudding to another level. Color, taste and palate will be transported to a bliss. It also helps in binding the nuts and fruits as a layer. A drop of color and some pineapple essence completely make over this dish to a rich creamy pineapply pudding !!!!
Cook everything together after cutting the pineapple to small cubes taking away the cones and Centre part. It should be well done and golden in color. Discard the spices before layering.
Caramelize the sugar until liquidy, golden brown in color. Reduce the flame and add the hot water. Keep stirring until it becomes smooth caramelized liquid. Boil down to one string spreadable consistency. Strain and keep ready.
Chop everything into fine cubes. Layer the bottom of a pudding dish with caramel first. Then add half the nuts, cherries and dates. Refrigerate till set. Now layer the pineapple generously and put back to fridge.
Soak the agar agar in water and boil and melt into fine liquid alternatively when you boil milk.
Boil the milk along with sugar and evaporated milk. Stir often. When boiling point add the condensed milk. Boil down for 5 minutes. Reduce the flame and through a sieve add the China grass. Keep stirring while adding. Allow this to boil. As soon as it is boiled, switch off the flame. Allow the temperature to come down considerably. Add the essence and color, combine. Let it cool down a bit more.
Strain and layer on top of the chilled and set fruits and nuts. Put back to fridge and let it set until crystal clear and shiny. Now later the remaining half of nuts and fruits. Heat the remaining custard if it’s set and pour as the final layer on top. Chill till well set. Serve with shipped cream.