Early colonists brought with them to America a fondness for British "hasty pudding," a dish made by boiling wheat flour in water or milk until it thickened into porridge. Since wheat flour was scarce in the New World, settlers adapted by using native cornmeal, dubbed "Indian flour," and flavoring the resulting mush to be either sweet (with maple syrup or molasses) or savory (with drippings or salted meat). In time, Indian pudding evolved into a dish that was resoundingly sweet, with lots of molasses and additional ingredients such as butter, cinnamon, ginger, eggs, and sometimes even raisins or nuts. Recipes for Indian pudding began appearing in cookery books in the late 1700s.
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for baking dish
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 300° and grease a 11/2-quart baking dish.
Bring milk to a simmer in a double boiler over high heat. Slowly add the cornmeal, whisking to combine. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 15 minutes.
Slowly add molasses, then remove from heat. Add maple syrup and the rest of the ingredients and stir until smooth.
Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish, and bake until the pudding is set and the top is browned, about 2 hours. Serve hot or cold, topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
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