Friday, December 16, 2011
Caramel Pudding (Karamellpudding) and a Norwegian Christmas
Six years ago, we hosted a terrific exchange student for a year from Norway named Maren. She was a senior in high school at the time and now she’s halfway through law school in Bergen, Norway (I’m a proud mama!).
As December rolled in, we shared Hanukkah with her, and she shared her Norwegian Christmas traditions with us. Our boys had never had a Christmas tree before, so it was their chance to go out with Maren and pick out a tree from a Christmas tree farm that sets up near our house. We walked through the rows of trees, enjoying the scent and beauty of the evergreens and searching for just the right tree -- we chose a Norway Spruce of course, and had fun decorating it with Norwegian flags and lights. It was truly a beautiful tree.
Maren also told us about all the festive dishes she enjoyed at this time of year, such as risgrot (rice porridge), seven kinds of cookies, lefse with brown cheese and butter, lynogtordenkake (a layered yellow cake with meringue and cream) and other tortes and puddings. I was in heaven hearing about all these wonderful treats. It was clear ... we had to have a party!
Maren’s mother, Yngvil, sent family recipes and Maren and I began shopping and baking. In the days leading up to Christmas, Maren’s family also mailed little Advent gifts for Maren, Sam and Isaac to open.
On the evening of the party, seventy friends crowded into our little house. I should probably mention 90% of our guests were Jewish! Well, Maren led the way and I must say it was a Fantastic Party! The table overflowed with cookies, tortes, cakes, cheeses, breads, herring salads and a gingerbread house. Children licked candy canes, we all kissed under mistletoe and the air was filled with talking, laughing, good cheer and shouts of “L’chaim” and “Gledelig Jul” (OK, only Maren was saying “Gledelig Jul”).
My favorite dessert from the evening was karamellpudding, or caramel pudding. Custard is a weakness of mine that I happily embrace! Maren’s family serves this dessert on Christmas evening and it is delightful. It’s a flan-like pudding with a smooth, silky texture and lightly sweet flavor. It needs to be prepared the day before to have time to chill overnight. Serve it with whipped cream and some fresh berries.
Eating a spoonful of this festive dessert just now I let out a deep sigh. It brings back such warm memories of the famous Jewish Norwegian Christmas party and the year our family shared with Maren. Lots to savor!
We are heading out for Australia now to learn about how they celebrate Christmas. Wishing all of you a Happy Hanukkah, a Gledelig Jul and very Merry Christmas, mates!
Caramel Pudding (Karamellpudding)
From Maren’s mom, Yngvil
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Pour 1/2 cup sugar into a loaf pan and place it over low to medium heat until it melts and turns light golden brown. Watch it closely so it doesn’t burn. When melted, tip the pan to swirl it around and cover the bottom. Wear oven mitts and be very careful. Set the pan aside. The sugar will harden and possibly crack.
In a medium sauce pan, stir together the milk and 1 tablespoon sugar. Heat it over medium high heat to just a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Whisk the eggs and vanilla together. When the milk mixture has cooled, whisk the eggs and vanilla in. Pour it into the loaf pan and set the pan in a larger roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the loaf tin. Bake for about 2 1/2 hours, until the pudding is set.
Remove the pan from the water bath and let cool. Cover and chill overnight. When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge carefully to loosen the pudding. You can set the bottom of the pan in some warm water if needed to loosen the bottom. Place a serving platter (one with a lip or that is wide enough for the sugary syrup that will come out) over the loaf pan and flip to unmold it. Serve with whipped cream.