This is not a ploy to make you put on a few kilos when you’re caught indoors. It’s a gift to drive away the dreary gloom of the monsoons, however momentarily.
Delicate puddings, I have found, come together in a cinch on rainy days, when the prospect of takeout is often more tempting than cooking. There’s something so endearing about seeing a pudding tremble before your eyes. In that moment, a simple crème caramel seems to shadow every fancy pud you’ve laid eyes on (entremets included). It’s pure joy.
A blancmange is not very different from a panna cotta. If you overlook a few minor details, it could very well pass off as one. Having said that, a blancmange is definitely older than a panna cotta. There’s a recipe for it penned in cookbooks around the world, and it has gone by many names since the Middle Ages- mahallabiya in Arabic, biancomangiare in Italy and manjar blanco in Spain. You could say that it’s the world’s first truly international dessert. The ingredient list for blancmange has come a long way too- chicken has been replaced with gelatin or cornflour, while almond and rose water still remain in some versions. All other puddings- crème brûlée, flan, custard are just the many forms it has taken over the years, escaping extinction.
The blancmange I have made is an old-fashioned cornstarch and milk pudding with a strikingly modern spin. This is an English blancmange, as the French variation would use almond milk and gelatin, thus bringing it closer to a panna cotta. Instead of using plain milk, I’ve opted for Momofuku Milk Bar’s Cereal Milk for its delicious nutty notes. Toasting the cornflakes deepens their flavour, and soaking them in cold milk makes the milk starchy. Christina Tosi from Milk Bar insists you add a little more brown sugar if you want the milk to be sweeter.
Cereal Milk 2 cups
Water 3 tbsp
Corn Flour 3 1/2 tbsp
THE CEREAL MILK
Cornflakes 100g (I used plain Kelloggs Cornflakes)
Cold Milk 4 cups
Brown Sugar 3 tbsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Start with the cereal milk. Heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.
Spread the cornflakes out on a lined tray and lightly toast the cornflakes in the oven.
Get a large glass jug or pitcher out and add in the cornflakes. Pour over the cold milk and let it steep in the cornflakes for about twenty minutes at room temperature.
Using a fine sieve, drain the cornflakes out and let the milk pour into another bowl. Press down the cornflakes to drain the milk using the back of a spoon but don’t press too hard and try to force the cornflakes through the sieve. Whisk in the sugar and salt, and taste. It’s good if it’s a bit more sweet at this stage.
Add the cereal milk to a heavy bottomed pan. Mix the water and the cornflour together in a small bowl before adding it to the milk. Whisk it together to combine.
Bring this mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring all the while (about 6-7 minutes). Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and keep stirring with a spoon for a minute more being careful not to let the milk burn at the bottom. The mixture should thicken to a back-of-the-spoon coating consistency.
Pour this mixture into the ready moulds and smoothen the surface using the back of a spoon. This makes 4-5 blancmanges. Chill this in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours and unmould. Serve cold.