sweet polenta gratin with lemon cream
gratin di polenta dolce con crema
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour, 45 minutes
MAKES: 4 servings
Polenta for dessert? Absolutley. Cooked with cream, cinnamon, and vanilla, it becomes soothing like rice pudding. Layered with a pastry cream and Grand Marnier-soaked dried fruit, it makes a sweet finale that is both homey and sophisticated.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more for greasing pan
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
- 1/4 cup maraschino liqueur
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped prunes
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped dried apricots
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Fine sea salt
- 1 cup coarse polenta
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- Zest of 2 large lemons
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup walnut pieces
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped almonds
- Confectioners sugar
- SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: a (5- x 8½-inch) loaf pan, 4 (10-ounce) ramekins or baking dishes
Grease a 5- x 8½-inch loaf pan with butter.
In a small bowl combine Grand Marnier, maraschino liqueur, prunes and apricots.
In a large saucepan, bring water, cream, 3 tablespoons butter, cinnamon, vanilla and 1/8 teaspoon salt to a boil; remove and discard cinnamon. Slowly add polenta in a thin stream, whisking. Reduce heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until polenta is thickened and tender, 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove polenta from heat; stir in whole egg. Transfer polenta to prepared loaf pan and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Let polenta cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, heat oven to 400°.
In a medium saucepan combine milk and lemon zest. Bring just to a boil, then remove from heat. Through a fine-mesh sieve, strain milk into a bowl.
In a second large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and granulated sugar until pale. Add flour and pinch salt, then slowly whisk in milk.
Return mixture to saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until thick enough to coat back of a spoon, about 3 minutes.
Drain apricots and prunes; discard liquid. In a bowl, stir together fruit with walnuts, pine nuts and almonds.
Grease ramekins with butter. Divide half of the polenta between ramekins; top with half of the cream, then sprinkle with half of the fruit mixture. Repeat to form 2 layers. Dust tops with confectioners sugar. Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake until tops just begin to brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.
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