Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pudding It All Together

I mentioned yesterday that if this turned out good, I would post the recipe today.  You never know until you test since the reduced fat/no fat dairy products COULD affect the texture of the finished dish.  Plus, I'm always looking for ways to get the refined sugar out of desserts.  Since I don't advocate the use of artificial sweeteners (even though we all manage to get a hit of sucralose or aspartame from SOMEWHERE), playing with fruit purees or stevia based sweeteners may affect the quality of the finished product too.  I generally have good luck but every now and then even the best cooks drop a culinary bomb! 

I've been lucky lately with the stevia blends.  I haven't tried baking with them yet so I don't know how well they'll do.  However, for puddings or fruit sauces or things of that nature that you can sweeten AFTER removing from the heat...they are working out great.  Once I've gotten over my kickboxing induced impairment and I can actually STAND without supporting myself on the counter, I plan to get in there and bake up something with some Truvia in it and see what happens.  I'm feeling rather scone-ish at the moment.  Oh rahhhther scone-ish...with a spot of jam and a steaming cup' o good Earl Grey!  It must wait until I can get off this blasted heating pad though.

In the meantime, these puddings I've been whipping up are quick and easy.  Their low calorie, fat and sugar counts make them even more appealing.  Plus, I am enourmously proud of the fact that they are NOT all junked up with sucralose and aspartame.  Oh, I don't know...I suppose if you don't mind a little chlorine with your sugar (sucralose) or some formaldahyde or ethinol (breakdown by-products of aspartame) in your chocolate pudding then knock yourself out (literally).  I digress.....

Back to the pudding....or as I said in the title....Pudding it all together.  I am discovering that using such greatly reduced butterfat products can prove challenging to texture and mouthfeel more than taste.  Sometimes you have to take a different approach in technique.  The classic Italian version of sweet polenta pudding has sweetened mascarpone either dolloped on top or lightly swirled through the warm pudding.  Well sure...with the cream and whole milk thats already in the body, the mascarpone is rather like "icing on the cake".  Its a stand alone ingredient.  With the lightened version, I found that actually melting the low fat whipped cream cheese into the hot polenta gave it the creaminess that it lacked from just being cooked in skim milk.  The drizzle of honey in the classic is yummy but superfilous.  The pudding is sweet enough without it.  Yes, you could a spoonful of all-fruit natural jam swirled through your pudding instead of my lighter strawberry coulis but again, we are back to calories and sugar that you really don't need to make this dessert work.  I actually preferred the simple strained strawberrie sauce.  The fresh, ever so slightly tart tang of the berries was a perfect foil for the thick, creamy polenta.  I've gone and made myself hungry now!  In any event...try it and see for yourself. 

Creamy Vanilla Polenta Pudding with Fresh Strawberry Coulis

2 cups organic fat free milk
pinch kosher salt
4 teaspoons Florida organic sugar
1 vanilla bean split and scraped
1/2 cup (dry) non-gmo fine grain polenta
3 packets stevia blend sweetener (I use Truvia)
4 tablespoons low fat whipped cream cheese ( I use weight watcher's brand)
2 cups fresh hulled strawberries
1-2 additonal packets of stevia sweetener

In a 1 1/2 quart saucepan combine the fat free milk, kosher salt, sugar and vanilla bean.  When mixture begins to boil; gradually stir in polenta.  Cook 3-4 minutes; stirring constantly until polenta is thickened.

Remove from heat and discard vanilla pod.  Stir in 3 packets of Truvia and the low fat cream cheese.   Mix well; until cheese is melted.  You may add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for extra vanilla flavor if desired.

Divide among 6 dessert dishes or ramekins and set aside while you prepare strawberry topping.

Place strawberries in blender or food processor and process until smooth.  You may need to add a few drops of water to help blend.  Strain out seeds and sweeten with 1-2 addtional packets of stevial sweetener. 
Swirl strawberry coulis into the warm polenta puddings.

Makes 6 servings
Each serving:  105 calories, 18g carbs, .5g fat, 1g fiber, 3g protein, 75mg sodium

*These puddings are so low calorie/fat that you can afford a nice dollop of low fat or fat free Greek style vanilla yogurt on top!  Don't forget to add the extra calories though.

(c) copyright Jill Anderson
The Homegrown Gourmet


  1. Pay not attention to the idiot who can't spell in this article! I am definately off my game with these meds!!

  2. I use SweetLeaf brand of stevia!


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Fort Myers, Florida, United States