Monday, November 25, 2013

Review: Pudding Cookbook for Upcoming Fun Food Holiday

National Parfait Day is today, November 25th so as a Special Sacramental Feature here is a cookbook review, of Clio Goodman's Puddin': Luscious and Unforgettable Puddings, Parfaits, Puddings Cakes, Pies, and Pops... what a long name!  But does it deliver easy to use recipes?  Yes and no so let me explain why I loved and hated this cookbook at the same time.

This book is divided into six chapters listed below:

Chapter 1: The Classics featuring 10 recipes.

Chapter 2: New Favorites with 14 recipes.

Chapter 3: Toppings subdivided into three categories of cookies and cake toppings; sauces, compotes, and toppings; candies and crunchies with a grand total of 22 recipes

Chapter 4: Pudding Parfaits with 12 specific recipes or ideas really for how to layer them.

Chapter 5: Pudding Cakes and Pies includes only eight recipes.

Chapter 6: Pudding Pops also has just eight recipes that are more how to add to the pudding to turn them into frozen treats.

The book includes many photos but the review copy I was sent was only in grayscale so I cannot say how well the photos compare to those in other cookbooks I've been sent to review.  Click on the link below to go see some photos from the book and order it if you think this sounds like a book you want to give a try.

I made three recipes, my standard testing approach for cookbooks as you know, Sisters and Brothers -- Chocolate Pudding (p.3), Peanut Butter Pudding (p. 25), and Whipped Cream (p. 70).  With these I constructed a parfait using the basic layering techniques in chapter four but not the specifics.

The directions were clear enough that I could follow though you must read the "Pudding 101" to know exactly what some of the terms used mean.   Of course ideally we always read this introductory and advice sections of cookbooks but in this book it will help you and it will be necessary if you have not made a homemade pudding or custard or related dish before.  While the directions were clear the amount of effort required was seriously underplayed in the text. Making the peanut butter pudding took over 20 minutes of cooking time plus the buying of ingredients, prep time, cooling, and dishing out the pudding.  The chocolate pudding took almost 30 minutes of cooking time and it took almost twice as long to cool once refrigerated.

In all making the parfaits took a good six hours of time or my entire afternoon though this was broken into three periods of about 20-30 minutes of intense activity.  This was not a quick dessert though making just a pudding would be the equivalent of making a cake and frosting it.  As I was making them I felt frustrated and worried that things weren't working out.  The chocolate pudding was much looser and less thick than the peanut butter one but they both tasted great.  For the first time in all of the cookbooks I've used and reviewed the whipped cream instructions were complete in terms of how fast to whip and how long it should take; this was the best whipped cream I ever made.

I used leftover Agostoni Organic Couvetures in the two darker varieties we looked at last year and it melted, blended, and lasted very well in the chocolate pudding.  I just used general store brand cocoa powder as well so I didn't take a photo for you all.  The benefit to using this beyond the taste we discussed when we reviewed the Couveture was the fact that it comes in discs that each weight .05 ounces so you can easily get the amount you need for these recipes if you use a kitchen scale.

The result was 20 parfaits I put together in simple 9oz plastic cups with some chocolate sprinkles on top of the whipped cream.  Note: the parfait recipes in the book routinely say they make 10 servings and all of them use 2-3 different pudding recipes so I cut back on the amount of each each cup I made.  I had six testers try it with me and I took the leftovers to a birthday party as part of my gift to the birthday boy (who was one of the testers and liked them a lot).  Pudding will only last a few days so you do need to have your eaters ready and willing to chow down or have an event to take these two. When creating the parfait basically add the total servings for each part of the construction and you'll have a general idea of how many parfait servings you will get.

Ultimately it was rewarding to make something that people liked to eat (though was very rich) but nutritional these are not every day or even every week treats unless you don't care about calories primarily made of fat.  I used a sugar substitute simply because I couldn't buy sugar in a small enough quantity to not have it left over after this testing -- the product I use works exactly as sugar so it did not affect the texture at all only the over all calorie and sugar totals of the treats.  This gave me a lot of respect for anyone who makes homemade pudding but to be honest I'll probably stick to the box instant version unless I can find a way to make these lower fat and calories.  The book claims I can do this but doesn't specify how to go about this and I'm sure changing from whole milk and heavy cream to lower fat or fat free dairy products will require changes in time or temperature for cooking and cooling.

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