This new-age take on an old-world dessert is completely my fault. I made it up, tested it to the nth degree and stand behind its unashamed sweet and savory idiosyncrasies. It is constructed like a traditional sticky toffee steamed pudding, with salty olives and candied clementine taking the candied dates' role, honey and rosemary stepping in for the toffee sauce, and silken chestnut flour playing the supporting starchy role typically taken by a wheat flour-based pudding mixture. The totality is earthy and cosmopolitan. It is a riff on a sweet and savory cornmeal pudding I developed for Cooking Slow.
Change 1: Cornmeal, which gave the original a rustic grainy consistency, has been switched to chestnut flour, yielding a silken texture and a subtle earthy aroma.
Change 2: The original recipe called for candied orange peel, simmered in water to soften it. I replaced this step with a slow-cooked clementine compote, thus skipping a cooking step and giving you a leftover cache of luscious clementine goo for spreading on your morning toasted muffin. If you don't want to make the compote, I advise you to reconsider, or you can substitute any good quality orange marmalade.
Change 3: Steamed puddings are traditionally made from three component parts: a fruit mixture, a sauce and a pudding mixture. The Cooking Slow recipe employs the old-world baking technique of adding baking soda to the fruit mixture to neutralize its acid so that it does not disturb the acid-base balance that is aerating the pudding. Because baking soda is alkaline, it affects the red pigment in the kalamata olives, casting it toward green. To mitigate the color change, I moved the baking soda from the fruit component to the dry ingredients in the pudding mixture, so that it would be diluted before it came in contact with the kalamata olives.
For the rosemary caramel:
For the pudding:
1) To make the caramel, simmer the cream, sugar, honey, rosemary, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until thick enough to coat a spoon, stirring constantly, about 8 minutes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2) Coat a 1 1/2 qt/1.4 l soufflé dish or pudding mold with the 1 tbsp butter. Pour two-thirds of the sauce into the prepared mold and put in the freezer, until the sauce is solid, about 15 minutes.
3) To assemble the pudding, mix the chestnut flour, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside. Mix the chopped olives, clementine compote, hot water, and liqueur in a medium bowl; set aside.
4) Beat the softened butter and sugar with an electric mixer, or by hand with a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl, until creamy. Beat in the eggs until well combined. Mix the dry ingredients into the creamed butter and egg mixture in two additions alternating with the olive-clementine mixture in a single addition.
5) Spoon the pudding on top of the frozen sauce. Cover the top of the mold with heavy-duty aluminum foil and secure to the bowl with some string or a rubber band. Crimp the overhang of foil so that it does no hang more than 1/2 inch/13 cm below the string.
6) Put the covered mold in a large saucepan or soup pot large enough to hold it without the mold touching the sides of the pot, and pour boiling water around the mold until the water comes about half way up the side of the mold and does not touch the foil. Cover the pot and steam the pudding over low heat for 3 hours adding more water if the level should drop by more than half. When done the top of the pudding will be dry and the center will feel barely soft.
7) While the pudding is steaming heat the reserved caraemel sauce in a skillet over medium heat until it is boiling vigorously and turns to a golden caramel color, stirring often, about 8 minutes; set aside.
8) Remove the pudding mold from the water and cool for 5 minutes. Take off the foil. Run a knife around the edge of the pudding and invert on to a plate. Scrape any sauce clinging to the mold over the top of the pudding. Serve in wedges drizzled with some of the remaining sauce. If the sauce has gotten too thick, thin with a little warm milk.
Chilling Time: 45 minutes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: about 3 hours
Store: for up to 2 days, covered in the refrigerator. Can be rewarmed briefly in a microwave.
In a Slow Cooker: Prepare the pudding as described through step 5. Put the covered pudding mold in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add boiling water to the cooker halfway up the side of the mold. Cover the crock and cook on high for 3 hours. Finish and serve as described in steps 7 and 8.
Raghavan Iyer is a bestselling cookbook author, culinary educator, spokesperson and consultant who specializes in Indian cuisine. In this installment of The Key 3, he shares the techniques behind three of his classic recipes: Smoky Yellow Split Peas, Sweet-scented Pilaf and Indian Slaw.