Individual Fig or Apricot Steamed Puddings
This pudding may be made with figs for a dark, rich, traditional pudding, or with dried apricots for a lighter, slightly tarter version. Whole or halved dried apricots may be used. You'll need eight small pudding molds. Steam for 2 hours to produce moister puddings, 2 hours 20 minutes for denser puddings.
- 1 1/2 stemmed dried pounds (about 84) Black Mission figs, to make about 4 cups or 2 pounds dried, or whole or halved apricots to make about 4 cups
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons, melted, for buttering molds
- 2 cups packed dark-brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup apricot jam
- Brandy Sauce
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 2 cups figs (or apricots), 1 cup water, and the brandy; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 5 minutes, just until figs are plumped (there should still be 1 cup liquid in the pan). Transfer the mixture, with all the liquid, to a food processor, and process until pureed. Set aside.
Place remaining figs in a small bowl. Cover with boiling water, and let soak until fruit is plump, about 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly, and set aside.
Using a pastry brush, butter eight 2- or 3-cup pudding molds and their lids (or use eight circles of parchment paper cut several inches larger than mold for lids). Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until softened and well combined, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating until each is incorporated. Add vanilla and reserved fig purée, and beat until combined, about 1 minute.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom. Set the mixer on low speed, and gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with milk, to the fig mixture, in two additions each. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Place jam in a small saucepan, and heat, stirring, over medium heat just until warm. Spoon about 1 tablespoon warm jam into bottom of each pudding mold. Cut the reserved figs in half lengthwise, and arrange 8 to 10 halves cut sides up, on the bottoms of each of the molds, overlapping slightly. (Dried apricots do not need to be cut. Arrange 8 to 10 as above in the bottom of each mold.) Pour 1 cup batter into each mold. Tap molds sharply on counter several times to distribute batter evenly and to eliminate air bubbles. Cover each mold with its lids or parchment paper secured with a rubber band. (If using parchment, place a layer of aluminum foil on top of the paper to prevent water from coming in contact with the puddings.) Puddings may be made up to this point and refrigerated for 1 day. (If refrigerated, leave puddings at room temperature for 1 hour before steaming).
To steam the puddings, place a 10-inch round rack in the bottom of an 8- to 10-quart stockpot; place three or four molds (depending on the size of the molds, either three or four will fit at one time) on the rack. Remaining puddings may sit at room temperature or be refrigerated for about 45 minutes while others are steaming. (Do not refrigerate puddings the entire steaming time, or they will be too cold to cook properly.) Pour enough boiling water into the pot to reach halfway up the sides of molds. Cover, and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low, and gently steam puddings until a toothpick inserted in the middles comes out clean, 2 hours to 2 hours 20 minutes. Transfer molds to a cooling rack; when cool enough to handle, remove lids. Let sit, uncovered, for about 5 minutes for puddings; turn out onto serving plates. Serve warm with chilled brandy sauce.
To rewarm fig or apricot puddings: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer puddings from refrigerator to a rimmed baking sheet. Keep puddings in molds with their lids. Place in oven. Heat for 40 minutes or until a metal skewer inserted into pudding comes out very hot to the touch. Using a pot holder or kitchen towel, carefully unmold puddings onto serving plates. Serve warm with brandy sauce.