Germans love pudding. Chocolate pudding. Vanilla pudding. Butterscotch pudding. There are so many creamy confections that just scream for a spoon to come along and slide into the velvety texture. This is not the same. This is a lovely fresh take on a pudding. While it takes advantage of all the summer berry bounty, it can really be made at any time of the year. Thank you dear freezer. Instead of containing dairy, its base is berries. And a thickener like corn starch. Usually it would be made with red currants, raspberries, strawberries, cherries or a combination of the above. Rote Gruetze can basically be translated as ‘Red Porridge’.
I love currants. There’s something so delicate and tart about them- elegance with an edge! As kids, during berry season, we could be found sitting in the currant and gooseberry bushes, indulging to the point of tummy aches. I wasn’t too bright- I would also insist on sitting in the cherry tree plucking cherry after cherry until my mother would try to convince me to come down. “You will get a tummy ache.” I never believed her. The cherries were much more convincing. So I stayed, and dealt with the inevitable tummy ache.
There is something so refreshing, so yesteryear about berries, tart or sweet. A basket filled with freshly picked raspberries or strawberries, those delicate little currants with their lovely green tendrils, the dark staining blueberries, and then there are the gooseberries, the blackberries, the mulberries… Summer in a cardboard pint container.
So this pudding is truly a reflection of summer. It’s a combination of red currants and cherries. But if you only have access to to raspberries and strawberries or want to do a combination of all of the above, go for it! I like to serve it in dainty vintage dessert cups topped with whipped cream or creme anglaise. But it would also be lovely spooned over a pound cake or angel food cake. If you want to do this, then just chill the finished pudding in one larger bowl, covered with cling film pressed along the top of the pudding to avoid drying it out too much for later spooning.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, this works equally well with frozen berries as it does with fresh. Isn’t that great? So when the mood strikes you in like November or February, you can make this ruby red dessert. It can be festive, or it can be a cozy treat for a cool eve in front of the tv.
RED BERRY PUDDING, AKA ROTE GRUETZE
- 2 cups red currants , cleaned of leaves and stems
- 2 cups sweet cherries , pitted
- 1 cup sugar plus (depending on the ratio of berries and the sweetness you desire)
- 1/4 cup red wine (or rose)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped)
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp sugar
Set 1 cup of currants aside.
Place the remaining currants and cherries into a pot with the sugar, wine and salt.
Bring to a boil and cook for one minute, until berries are tender.
Remove from the heat and place in a blender. Blend until completely smooth. Pour through a strainer back into the pot, pushing the puree through the sieve to catch as much as possible,
Mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cold water until completely dissolved.
Place the pot back on medium high heat and cook for one minute. Add the cornstarch and whip for 5 minutes until it begins to thicken.
Remove from heat and add the reserved currants.
Let cool for 5 minutes. Then divide equally between 6 dessert cups.
Cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
FOR THE CREME ANGLAISE
Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl and set it near the stove.
Pour milk into a small heavy saucepan. Add the vanilla extract or the scraped seeds from the halved vanilla bean.
Whisk until well combined. Heat the milk over medium heat, stirring often, until steaming, but not bubbling.
Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl.
Gradually whisk half the hot milk into the eggs until combined. Slowly whisk the egg-milk mixture back into the remaining milk in the pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon in a figure-eight motion, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon, 4 to 6 minutes. The temperature should reach 160°F on an instant-read thermometer—watch carefully to prevent the custard from boiling. Working quickly, strain the custard through the waiting sieve into the bowl.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
You can use raspberries or strawberries in place of the cherries. Ideally you want to start with the currants. But if you only have access to the raspberries, strawberries and cherries, you can also do this. You may need to adjust the sugar amount then.
The creme anglaise can be covered and refrigerated for up to two days.
Whipped cream would also be lovely on top, if you don't want to take the extra time to make the creme anglaise. But make the creme anglaise, it's wonderful (I could, and did eat it by the spoonful when I worked at one restaurant!!)