Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Date Pudding - A Holiday Family Tradition

My husband, Mark, says that the first time he suggested making Date Pudding as a Thanksgiving dessert, I turned up my nose at the thought and proclaimed that I didn't like dates. But there was no way he'd celebrate the holiday without this beloved family dessert on the table, so we pulled out my mother-in-law's recipe and the food processor.

Mark's family started making this unusual pudding long before food processors became a staple in every food lover's kitchen, which meant crumbling the crackers, chopping the dates, and breaking up the nuts by hand. But the food processor creates a smooth batter within only a few minutes.

And the results? Fabulous. Date pudding has become one of my favorites and I even eat an occasional fresh date on its own, because of this recipe.

Light and airy when it first leaves the oven, date pudding has a natural tendency to fall - sometimes several inches in the center - within half an hour. So don't worry when you start to see the upper 'crust' begin to break; that means its been baked just right.

One other requirement when we eat date pudding? There must be a big dollop of lightly sweetened real whipped cream on top. It's all about tradition.

Date Pudding
Makes 6-8 servings

1 big cup seedless dates, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup pecan pieces (VOE - we use walnuts because we always have some on hand)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
8 heaping tablespoons saltine cracker crumbs, about 16 crackers
4 level teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan with butter. Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet and with plenty of 'head room' above the oven rack; the pudding may expand two or three times its original size while in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes and do not bake too hard. Cool slightly before serving. 

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