By this time of the year, I need something sunny-looking on my table because there’s no escaping the snow and day after day of below-freezing temperatures. Enter apricot pudding, a recipe I adapted from The New Thought in Cooking by Sara Treat, a booklet published by American Maize-Products Co. There is no publication date, but the company likely printed it in the 1930s to entice consumers to buy its corn oil, syrup, corn starch, and other corn-based products. The company even sponsored radio programs with Don Amaizo, a character it created who was really violinist Max Dolin, the first music director at the NBC Pacific Coast Network in San Francisco.
I adapted this recipe from the book’s spiced prune pudding, which looked easy to make, but didn’t give me the color I wanted. I pulled dried apricots from my pantry and went from there. The result needed a bit of pureeing to eliminate the chunks. To make it healthier, I omitted the whipped cream garnish and used blueberries instead for a smooth, bright dairy and gluten free antidote to winter.
Spiced Apricot Pudding (1930s)
1/2 pound dried apricots, cut into about 1/4 inch pieces
3 cups cold water
1 stick cinnamon
1 cup sugar [or less, to taste – I used about 3/4 cup]
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Whipped cream, for garnish [optional]
- Place the apricots in a pot and soak in cold water for 1/2 to 1 hour.
- Add the cinnamon stick and simmer until soft, about 20 minutes.
- Pour off the cooking liquid and add boiling water to make a total of 3 cups. Add the liquid back to the pot with the apricots along with the sugar and salt. Simmer five minutes.
- In a separate bowl, mix the corn starch with enough cold water to make a smooth paste and slowly stir into the apricot mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
- Simmer 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice.
- Let cool slightly, then puree to eliminate large chunks of fruit. Pour into a mold or individual serving glasses. Chill thoroughly.
- Serve with whipped cream.