Saturday, May 21, 2011
Pistachio Pudding with Chocolate Cookies
Neither pistachios nor pudding get the respect they truly deserve. To whit: order a pistachio-flavored dessert, and you will invariably be served something that's almond-flavored. But colored green, see, so it's pistachio (to give props, this realization was attributed to the amazing pastry chef Shuna Lydon). And pudding -- according to a friend, in Turkey you can find entire restaurants devoted to pudding. Just pudding. It boggles the mind. Stateside, unless you count its fancy euro-sounding cousins of mousse and pot-de-creme, pudding isn't likely to make it onto the dessert menu at all. Most of the time, it's served in individually-sealed plastic snack cups, or plopped out of industrial-sized tubs onto cafeteria trays. This is all a shame, because both pistachios and pudding have a lot to offer by the way of dessert. Especially when they are combined together.
This sweet combination has all I look for in a final course. The pudding is rich, deep and smooth, with a true pistachio flavor (I was worried that the cinnamon would overpower, but it just serves to deepen the pistachio's aromatic notes). It is a bit thick from the ground nuts, so the sweet blob of whipped cream provides a welcome lightness. And then the cookies lend a delicious snap and bittersweet edge (I reduced the sugar a bit, upon advice from Smitten Kitchen), as well as their basic chocolatey goodness (which we all kinda want from a dessert anyways). It's a pudding fancypants enough to serve at your next dinner party. It's a pudding that might just redeem pudding (and pistachios) forever.
Pistachio Pudding with Chocolate cookies
pudding adapted, somewhat heavily, from Cookshop, as told to the Amateur Gourmet, cookies adapted from Retro Desserts, as flagged and adapted by Smitten Kitchen
yields ~6 portions puddings, and ~2-3 dozen cookies
For the Cookies:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup dutched cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper, or grease them well and hope for the best.
Place the flour, cocoa powder, soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor or mixer. Pulse or mix a few times to combine the dry ingredients. Add the butter and egg, and pulse or mix a few times until it just comes together.
Scoop tablespoons of the mixed dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving some space between cookies (these will spread). Flatten slightly, wetting your hand if needed to keep the dough from sticking. Bake for ~9 minutes, until just set. Let them cool on the sheet for a minute or two to set, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
For the Pudding:
4 cups cream, divided
2 cups milk
2 cups toasted pistachios
2 sticks cinnamon
1 cup sugar, plus more for the whipped cream
3 Tbsp cornstarch
vanilla to taste
Place 3 1/4 cups of the cream (set aside the remainder in the refrigerator), the milk, pistachios and cinnamon in saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and allow to steep for 1/2 an hour. Get some cups ready for the finished pudding.
When the cream/pistachio mixture has steeped, blend it fully, and then strain it back into the saucepan (I had to sort of persuade it through the strainer with a spatula, clearing out the nutty detritus a couple of times during the process, but results may vary depending upon your blender and strainer). Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a bowl, and then add enough of the strained cream mixture to create a smooth paste. Whisk in the remainder, then pour it back into the pot. Heat over a medium flame, whisking, until it comes to a boil. Lower the heat until it just maintains a simmer, and simmer, whisking constantly, for 3 minutes. Pour into cups in your desired amounts, and chill.
Before serving, whip the remaining cream into soft peaks, and add sugar and vanilla to taste. Top the pudding with whipped cream, and serve with a chocolate cookie (or three).