No discussion of Thanksgiving is complete without a nod to dessert. For me, the challenge is this: I have a family of pie-lovers, and I’m not one of them.
Luckily, we have a big extended-family meal with aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews and dogs (and let’s not talk about the fact that this is the first year when the next generation completely outnumbers the “grownups”, and the kids’ table was the hottest ticket in the house), and there is always pie.
None for me, thanks. I celebrate Thanksgiving dessert by making one of my favorite fall dishes: Indian Pudding. Indian Pudding is another classic New England dish, this one made with cornmeal and molasses cooked into a custard. The fall flavors of cinnamon and ginger bring it together in a not-too-sweet dessert perfect for us non-pie people. I like to add a little cinnamon whipped cream just before serving.
The history of Indian Pudding and the recipe I use come straight from Yankee Magazine. It’s almost, alllllmost as good as the Indian Pudding at the Blue Benn diner in Bennington, Vermont. But they’re not much for sharing their recipes. Until I can talk them out of it, it’s the Yankee version for me. And while cornmeal and molasses are available year-round, there’s something about the homely appearance, rustic texture, and warm spices of Indian Pudding that beg to be served at Thanksgiving. (Though I might, under duress, confess to making it in the spring every once in a while.)
Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar (more or less–I like it on the sweet side)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Whisk together until the cream thickens. I like it at the medium-peak stage for this, but like the sugar there’s not a right answer, only the one that you like best. Just be careful not to churn it into butter.
What I learned from this experience is that I’m a fan of the classic New England/Midwestern Thanksgiving fare. Which is pretty funny since my favorite foods are all firmly Tex-Mex and Southwestern. Tradition, it seems, counts for an awful lot this time of year.
Next week we’re back to our exploration of the 50 states, picking up where we left off: Massachusetts. My boys are looking forward to the clam chowder.