I know it’s only started to cool down outside, but fall is undeniably coming. For some people, this is a huge relief. Others are kicking and screaming as they cook out one last time this holiday weekend and try to catch a few final rays at the beach. Though I’m not much of a cooker-outer or a beach girl, I do really love summer. I love that I can just throw a dress over my head, slip on some shoes and be out the door. I love that I don’t wake up shivering if the covers fall off me at night. I love SUMMER FRUIT.
I also, however, really adore a lot of things about fall. For instance, the fashion. As a short, relatively curvy lady, I do not care for drapey summer clothes that look frumpy on anyone who’s not a six foot tall beanpole. I also look horrendous in bright, fun summer colors. I can rock a fall outfit, though. Dark greens, purples, grays, fitted jackets and pencil skirts…I can do those.
Want to know what else I can do exceptionally well in the fall? EAT PUMPKIN. Preferably in baked goods with lots of spices and a dash of chocolate. Oh yes.
I have never participated in Paper Chef before, and hadn’t really heard of it before, but noticed that the always awesome Deeba of Passionate About Baking (and how!) was hosting it this month, and I was really digging her choice of ingredients: ricotta, ginger, dark chocolate, and fall. I originally thought about figs, since I’m trying my best to overdose on them this year (I found a vendor in Chinatown. $2 for one of those little green plastic baskets you usually see holding strawberries. No I won’t tell you where exactly but they are AWESOME) but I’m not quite ready yet to give any up to baking endeavors. I’m still regretting using some on my oatmeal this morning. *sigh*
…Aaaanyway, I wanted to do some kind of baked pudding to encapsulate the warm, comforting feeling of fall foods. So I Googled “ricotta pudding” and came up with…budino.
Further investigation revealed it to be Italian baked pudding, and one of the first results I came up with in my initial search was pumpkin-ricotta budino. Yessss. What goes better with ginger and dark chocolate than pumpkin? How about NOTHING.
The recipe I based this off of called for orange zest, but I didn’t have an orange and didn’t feel like buying one so I substituted a few drops of orange blossom water. I don’t think it made a difference; I can never taste that stuff anyway. If you want a little citrus zip feel free to add it back in. I also omitted the pecans and sprinkled cacao nibs on top before baking instead – that’s my “dark chocolate.” It doesn’t get any darker than that!
Spiced Pumpkin-Ricotta Budino with Cacao Nibs
- 4 eggs
- 8 oz. (1/2 lb.) canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling – the plain stuff is what you want here)
- 8 oz. (1/2 lb.) ricotta (sorry Deeba, I would’ve made my own if I’d had the time! I bow down to your cheesy mastery!)
- A few drops of orange blossom water (optional)
- 1 cup sugar (I used half dark brown, half regular granulated, because I would have used all light brown if I had it)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tsp ground ginger (less if you don’t like much ginger, but ginger was one of the key ingredients so I amped it up)
- Generous pinch cinnamon
- Slightly less generous pinch cloves
- Finely crushed cacao nibs, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a large or 4-6 small baking receptacles (I used small ramekins). Separate the eggs; set aside. Thoroughly blend the pumpkin and ricotta, then mix in the egg yolks and orange blossom water. Mix in the sugar and spices, making sure to completely crush any lumps of brown sugar, if using. In a separate bowl (use stand mixer or hand mixer), whip the egg whites to stiff but not dry peaks. Plop the whites into the pumpkin-ricotta mixture and fold gently but thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared baking receptacles, not quite filling them to the top, so they don’t spill over the edges. Sprinkle with cacao nibs. Bake 30-40 minutes for individual servings, up to an hour for one big budino. You can tell they’re done when you poke them in the middle and they’re firm to the touch. If removing from baking receptacle(s) before serving, let cool a couple minutes first. Serve warm, with cider, tea or coffee.
I actually quartered this recipe when I made it for myself. Z was here this weekend but I made this after he left, since I was already busy all weekend making ginger ice cream for a school event (more on that later). Plus I needed some yummy comfort food to combat the post-boyfriend lonelies. This plus some good, strong black tea definitely hit the spot for quite a while.