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Lifestyle

April 18, 2014

A light and airy dessert from America's past

Snow pudding is a great old American recipe that dates back to pioneer days, back when resourceful home cooks hankering for a treat had to rely on whatever they had — things such as gelatin, lemons, sugar and eggs.

In fact, the very first edition of Fanny Farmer’s “Boston Cooking School Cookbook” back in 1896 featured a recipe for snow pudding. My paternal grandmother, Ruth, a graduate of the Boston Cooking School, used to make it for me all the time when I was a kid. As my preference then was for full-fat, more-is-better desserts, I shouldn’t have cared as much as I did for light and airy snow pudding. But there was something magical about it. It sort of evaporated in the mouth, like cotton candy or even, uh, like snow.

A lifetime later, I still remember snow pudding with great affection. So why not dust it off and bring it back for spring, topped with one of the new season’s first fruits — strawberries?

What makes snow pudding so foamy and light is all the air that gets beaten into it. If you own a stand mixer — which I think of as the workhorse of mixers — you’ll find that making this pudding is pretty simple. You also can do it with a hand mixer, though it’ll take a lot longer.

This being strawberry season, you should be able to find some beauties at your local store, berries that are bright red from top to bottom with a strong strawberry aroma. Here, I’ve sliced the strawberries, tossed them with a bit of sugar and spiked them with a shot of orange liqueur. Sugar has the same effect on fruit as salt does on vegetables; it pulls out the natural juices. In this case, the sliced strawberries end up steeping in a pool of their own sauce. Strawberries and strawberry sauce, a natural and luxurious twofer.

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