When it comes to desserts, it seems that right now everything else is playing second fiddle to gloriously old-fashioned puddings. The current popularity of these culinary legacies of sweetness may stem from their very simplicity and the homeliness of their basic ingredients. Puddings are predictable and so reassuring. Their basic ingredients are, in general, so commonplace that they offer familiar comfort without surprise: Tapioca puddings with their tiny globules of soft sweetness. Cool and creamy chocolate puddings. Bread puddings that use up leftover breads, yet are so flexible that they can be flavored with about any type of fruit or seasoning. Sweet and spicy rice puddings. The list seems endless. Puddings have that wonderful and rare trait of being welcomed by almost all diners, be they sophisticates or youngsters. With all the experimenting that goes on in the kitchen today, one might justifiably expect that even old-fashioned puddings have taken on new flavors. Some have. Others, how- ever, have simply returned to fashion because their basic goodness has been discovered by a different generation. Homey as they are, these desserts are as trendy--and delicious--as any. Recipes are on Page 19.
1876 RICE PUDDING
1 cup regular rice 3 cups milk 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon rose water or vanilla 1/2 cup chopped dates 4 eggs, beaten 1 teaspoon cinnamon Toasted almond slices Combine rice, milk and salt in saucepan. Bring to boil, cover and cook over very low heat until rice is tender and has absorbed most of the milk, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter, sugar, rose water and dates. Mix eggs in gradually so they don't curdle. Turn mixture into greased 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon and toasted almonds. Bake at 350 degrees 20 minutes. Serve warm or cold. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
2 eggs, separated 2 cups milk cup sugar 2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla Combine egg yolks with milk, cup sugar, tapioca and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and blend in vanilla. Set aside. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar and continue beating until sugar is completely incorporated. Fold tapioca mixture into egg whites gently but thoroughly. Spoon into serving dishes. Makes 6 servings.
SPICED PUMPKIN PUDDING
2 cups cooked or canned mashed pumpkin 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed 1/2 cup chopped pecans 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger teaspoon ground cloves 3 eggs, lightly beaten 1 cup whipping cream 3/4 cup milk Whipped cream or hard sauce Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Blend well. Add eggs, whipping cream and milk, mixing until smooth. Pour pumpkin mixture into greased 1 1/2-quart casserole and bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly. Serve with whipped cream or hard sauce. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
GRANDMOTHER'S CHOCOLATE PUDDING
2 cups half and half 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated 6 egg yolks, beaten 2 tablespoons rum 1/2 cup whipping cream Combine half and half and grated chocolate in top of double boiler. Place over simmering water and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until half and half is scalded. Do not boil. Drip hot mixture slowly into egg yolks, beating constantly. Stir in 1 tablespoon rum. Pour mixture into custard cups or dessert glasses and chill at least 5 hours or overnight.
At serving time, whip cream until thick. Gradually add remaining 1 tablespoon rum and continue beating until cream is stiff. Top each serving of pudding with a dollop of whipped cream. Makes 6 servings.
MOLASSES BREAD PUDDING
2 cups stale whole-wheat bread cubes 1/2 cup raisins 2 eggs 2 cups milk 1/8 teaspoon salt cup dark molasses 1 tablespoon butter 2 tablespoons sugar teaspoon cinnamon Combine bread cubes and raisins in 1 1/2-quart casserole. Beat together eggs, milk and salt. Blend in molasses. Pour egg mixture over bread. Dot with butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over top. Bake at 350 degrees 30 to 35 minutes until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Makes 6 servings.
CITRUS RICE PUDDING
3 oranges 1 cups miniature marshmallows 2 cups cold, cooked rice 1 cup chopped dates 1 cup whipping cream 1 tablespoon sugar Orange slices Peel and dice oranges, reserving juice. Combine oranges and juice with marshmallows and chill 2 hours. Stir in rice and dates. Whip cream until thick. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until cream is stiff. Fold into rice mixture. Spoon mixture into individual dessert bowls. Garnish with orange slices. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 8 servings.
FOOD STYLIST: MARLENE BROWN
PRODUCED BY ROBIN TUCKER