“Dinna fash yourself, Sassenach,” he said, more gently. “I didna mean it that way. Here, Mrs. Bug’s brought ye something tasty, I expect.” He lifted the lid off a small covered dish, frowned at the substance in it, then stuck a cautious finger in and licked it.
“Maple pudding,” he announced, looking happy.
“Oh?” I had no appetite at all yet, but maple pudding sounded at least innocuous, and I made no objection as he scooped up a spoonful, guiding it toward my mouth with the concentration of a man flying an airliner.
“I can feed myself, you kn—” He slipped the spoon between my lips , and I resignedly sucked the pudding off it. Amazing revelations of creamy sweetness immediately exploded in my mouth, and I closed my eyes in minor ecstasy, recalling.
“Oh, God,” I said. “I’d forgotten what good food tastes like.”
“I knew ye hadn’t been eating,” he said with satisfaction. “Here, have more.”
I insisted upon taking the spoon myself, and managed half the dish; Jamie ate the other half, at my urging.
Diana Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Chapter 64, I am the Resurrection, Part 2)
At first glance, this passage doesn’t seem romantic enough for a Valentine’s post, but it’s from one of my most beloved chapters in the entire Outlander series. Diana touches on so many different types of love: romantic love, familial love, love for children of the heart.
If Ian had been around, I’m sure love for pets, and all creatures, would have also made the list.
And besides, nothing says love like ending a meal with one dish and two spoons…except maybe sharing the spoon too.
Cornstarch is not truly authentic here, as it was used primarily as a laundry starch until the mid 19th Century. Mrs. Bug would have most likely used flour, but I chose cornstarch for a couple of reasons:
- Pudding made with flour has a different texture and a duller appearance compared to that made with cornstarch. I’ve made a lot of pudding in my time, and I prefer the batches made with cornstarch.
- The food world is in the middle of a gluten-free craze just now, and I get requests for GF recipes everyday. I am pleased to post this recipe that everyone can enjoy without having to make any alterations.
If you prefer to avoid cornstarch, or would just like to try the recipe the way Mrs. Bug would have made it, check the notes below the recipe for substitutions.
What is authentic is the amount of cholesterol in this recipe. Mrs. Bug would have used eggs, butter and cream liberally in all of her cooking, and I followed her lead here.
However, as the French know, (which is why most of them stay so fit despite their gastronomic indulgences), a little goes a long way. You really don’t need more than a 1/2 cup serving of this creamy treat to feel satisfied, and leftovers keep well in the fridge for a few days.
As for the plastic wrap on top of hot pudding, I don’t use this technique often, but I always use it to prevent a skim forming on my puddings and custards. Most chefs do. If you have concerns about the chemicals in the plastic leaching into the hot food, you can use wax paper, but be warned – it’s a lot messier.
Or, you can learn to love the skim – a lot of people do – and let the pudding cool without covering it. The skim acts as a great barrier for a topping of whipped cream.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
: Creamy, rich and sweet. The perfect dessert for sharing.
Serves 6 to 8 – about 4 cups
2 cups whole milk
1 cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup cornstarch
2 egg yolks
½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
whipped cream, for garnish
Gently heat the milk and maple syrup over medium-low until simmering. DO NOT BOIL.
Whisk together the cornstarch and egg yolks until smooth and lump free. Slowly whisk in the cream and salt.
Remove about a cup of the heated milk mixture and pour it into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Pour this tempered egg mixture into the pot and increase the heat to medium. Bring it to a boil, whisking regularly. Boil for 2 minutes, still whisking, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove it from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla until completely incorporated and smooth.
To prevent a skin from forming, pour the pudding into a bowl, then lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface. Refrigerate until cool, then spoon into dishes and top with whipped cream when ready to serve.
Alternatively, to keep the skim, spoon the pudding directly into serving dishes and chill, unwrapped, in the refrigerator. Top with whipped cream when ready to serve; the skin forms a helpful barrier between the pudding and the cream.
Store leftovers in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days.
Ith do leòr! (Eat Plenty)
- Cornstarch is known as cornflour in the UK and most Commonwealth countries (not Canada), and is often called maizena (brand name) across much of Europe – it is NOT cornmeal.
- No cornstarch? Substitute the same amount of tapioca starch or arrowroot. You can also use the same amount of all-purpose (regular) flour — if you choose this option, boil the pudding for 4 minutes to cook off the taste of the flour, ensuring to whisk continuously, and into the corners of the pot, to prevent scorching.
- Store the 2 egg whites in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to a month. Use them to bulk out some Buttered Eggs, or to make Cafe Latte Meringues.
- Tempering the eggs raises their temperature gently and ensures you don’t end up with scrambled eggs in your pudding.
- I garnished our puddings with some of the Smoky Whisky Sugar leftover from Christmas. Chocolate curls, red M&Ms or cinnamon hearts would also dress up your pudding quite nicely.
- For a wee nip in your pudding, stir in 1 tablespoon whisky with the butter and vanilla.