I was mindlessly flipping through Deborah Madison’s book Local Flavors (She also wrote the gigantic Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, a great reference book for vegetarians and omnivores alike) at work yesterday morning when this recipe – a subtly sweet and ultra-simple baked pudding – caught my eye. It was the simple pureness of the dish that made me want to make it – a few ingredients beaten together with a wooden spoon. Without all the sweet bells and whistles, this is all about the ingredients – so make sure you start with the best.
If cupcakes are your idea of perfect dessert, I can guarantee this little pudding is not for you. But if you’re more a cheese course type, this would be a perfect concession to something just barely sweet. Think goat cheese with a drizzle of honey. Think farmhouse French. Think understated.
Part cheese cake, part pot de crème, this ricotta pudding is something all its own. I served it alongside a pluot jam, which worked well, especially with the slightly floral aroma brought by the apricot half of that fruit equation, so apricots themselves would surely do well here, but I think really any fresh berries or stone fruits would work.
I’m already dreaming up a savory incarnation of this pudding – skip out on the sugar and maybe eat it with roasted tomatoes or come fall, some sort of saucy-slow-braised meat. Makes 6 puddings and a generous pint of jam – enough for leftovers for morning toast.
For the Jam
1 lb pluots
¼ cup sugar
Halve the pluots and discard their pits and stems. Place the halves in a medium sauce pan along with the sugar and cook covered over medium-low heat until the fruit falls apart. Remove from the heat and cool.
For the Pudding
Unsalted butter for the ramekins
1 lb whole milk ricotta
1 c crème fraiche or whole milk sour cream
1 egg yolk
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Freshly grated nutmeg for topping
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter 6 ½ cup ramekins and set aside. Combine the ricotta, crème fraiche, eggs, yolk, sugar, and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and mix well. Divide the mixture between the ramekins (1/2 cup in each) and then place the ramekins in a shallow baking dish. Fill the baking dish with water, so that it comes half way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake 40-50 minutes until the puddings are set. Cool and serve slightly warm or at room temperature topped with a generous spoonful of the jam.