Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Little White Lab Rat Tries Again

Little White Lab Rat Tries Again

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 15, 2009

You might think that after my last experiment with a recipe found in an old church magazine – an unfortunate incident necessitating a moon-suited HazMat crew to dispose of leftovers – I would have learned my lesson. But indeed, I have not. The nightmares faded. I was tempted by an empty stomach and the siren call of the unknown, and yea, verily, I did fall.

The December 1966 issue of the Improvement Era era offers a collection of holiday recipes, and this one – Cranberry Pudding – caught my eye. I like fresh cranberries. I had a few packages in the freezer where I had stashed them after buying an abundance during the few holiday weeks when they are available in the grocery store.

If by “pudding” you can imagine only the milky Jell-o Instant variety, you owe it to your adult self to try a real pudding, a bread- or cake-like base drizzled artfully with a sweet sauce – something like the traditional boiled Christmas plum pudding, or my great-grandmother’s carrot pudding (made chiefly of grated potatoes and carrots; when steamed its vegetal origin vanishes into a lacy spun sugar) or my mother’s New Friends pudding (an easy treat that magically produces its own caramel sauce as it bakes).

Or this Cranberry Pudding.

Cranberry Pudding

1-1/2 tblsp. butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh cranberries, cleaned

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add the milk and dry ingredients; fold in the cranberries. Spoon into ten muffin cups and bake about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.


1/2 pound butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cream (I used the leftover evaporated milk)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together and cook in top of double boiler until slightly thickened. Serve piping hot.

This was easy and quick to put together. A great deal of its flavor comes from the butter, so you’ll want to use real butter in both pudding and sauce – no margarine (or — shudder — butter-flavored shortening)substitution. I did substitute the remainder of the can of evaporated milk for the cream in the sauce, with no loss of quality or flavor I think.

The amounts are so small that rather than lose all the butter and sugar to coat the electric beaters, I creamed those ingredients by mashing repeatedly with a fork.

The quantity of 10 puddings was a little odd. I think that if I were to use this recipe regularly, I would tinker a bit to increase the amount to a standard 12. If you make it as 10, remember to half-fill the empty cups with water so that there is no danger of warping your muffin pans.

The half pound of butter in the sauce may seem extravagant, but that’s the only excessive ingredient. The puddings themselves are not at all sweet – I tried one without sauce, and the tart berries combined with such a tiny amount of sugar (1/10 of 1/2 of a cup) made that a less than typically dessert-y experience: you won’t want to use these puddings as muffins. They need the richness of the sauce, which had a very nice flavor and creamy texture – what’s not to like in a combination of butter, sugar, and cream?

The individual pudding portions are quite small by today’s standards – quite normal by 1966 standards. That’s another point in its favor if you are debating the caloric content of that rich sauce.

Verdict: Fair. I might make this pudding again. But I vastly prefer my great-grandmother’s carrot pudding and my mother’s New Friends pudding – recipes available if anybody wants ’em.

[Now see here: If you tuned in hoping for a food review to trigger your latent bulemia, see Mormon Mommy Wars instead.]



  1. No latent bulemia here, but the New Friends pudding sounds interesting. I’d vote for a post on that if given the chance. It sounds like a chocolate pudding cake dish my mother made which creates its own sauce as well. And I love Caramel.

    [I never knew about half filling the empty muffin cups with water. Thanks]

    Have you ever run across a recipe for Opera Fudge in a church magazine? It was big in my mother’s large Mormon family as well as my brother-in-law’s. After reading this I was wondering if they have a common source.

    Comment by BruceCrow — January 15, 2009 @ 9:17 am

  2. Our family has a version of this recipe and we love it. It is a wintertime staple. We make it in a 9×13 baking dish, instead of the muffin tin, though.

    Comment by Martin Willey — January 15, 2009 @ 9:32 am

  3. It seems the Friend is guilty of recycling old recipes, although the quantity of butter has been cut down.

    Comment by Justin — January 15, 2009 @ 9:49 am

  4. Methinks someone is guilty of something more than recycling, Justin. The name attached to the recipe in the Era (I should have mentioned it in the OP) is Dorothy P. Holt. I don’t think cutting down on the butter and putting the batter into a square pan is quite enough to qualify as original enough for someone else to put their name on it, is it? Or maybe all puddings are so much alike, with just a tweak of the ingredients here and there, that nobody should really be claiming credit.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 15, 2009 @ 10:17 am

  5. Here you go, Bruce:


    1 cup sifted flour
    1-1/2 tsps. baking powder
    1/4 tsp. salt
    2/3 cup sugar
    1 cup raisins
    1/2 cup milk
    fruit or nuts (optional)
    1 cup brown sugar
    2 tblsp. butter
    2 cups water

    Mix together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, raisins, and milk, plus any fruits or nuts, in pan it is to be baked in. In saucepan, stir brown sugar into water; add butter; heat over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour over batter in baking dish. Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

    Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    (Just about any fruit — canned, fresh, or frozen — works well; I like peaches or rhubarb or pineapple. Chopped pecans or walnuts, or slivered or sliced almonds, work well. You can bake it in a casserole or mixing bowl as well as in a cake pan. And the quantity of fruit and nuts is my mother’s most exasperating cooking term: “Some.”)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 15, 2009 @ 10:35 am

  6. Ardis, you’ve given me courage to [gulp] try another pudding. My past experiences tasting this stuff have not been pleasant.

    Quick question: Can we leave out the raisins and still experience true pudding joy? Or are raisins sort of required to make it a true pudding?

    Comment by Hunter — January 15, 2009 @ 11:16 am

  7. Ardis, I must say that this pudding looks more than slightly better than the MMW fare.

    Comment by Ray — January 15, 2009 @ 11:30 am

  8. Raisins are essential only to plum pudding, Hunter. Or to people with adult tastes. {g} You may experience an adequate form of puddinghood without the raisins, but you’ll definitely need to put in some other kind of fruit and/or nuts. I wouldn’t make it with just the cake batter and sauce.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 15, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

  9. And Bruce, I’ll keep an eye out for opera fudge in a church magazine, but with the 669,000 hits I get by googling, I suspect it could have entered Mormon culture at some point from just about any national magazine or cookbook.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 15, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

  10. If you make it as 10, remember to half-fill the empty cups with water so that there is no danger of warping your muffin pans.

    Thanks for the tip! I’ve never heard about that being a danger, but it makes sense.

    Comment by sister blah 2 — January 15, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

  11. If you don’t like raisins, you might want to try dried currants instead.

    I discovered them recently and found that they’re milder and smaller and easier to eat but give a similar result in a recipe. I’ve started using them in homemade granola too. Mmm. They’re usually in the grocery store by the raisins.

    Comment by Researcher — January 15, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

  12. It (pan-warping because of empty cups) *used* to be a danger; I wondered if, with pans being made of new materials, it was just something I still did only because my mother and grandmother did it. But googling “muffin pan” and “empty cups” shows dozens of recently published reputable cookbooks (Good Housekeeping) and utensil dealers (Wal*Mart) recommending the same thing so I guess it’s still a valid concern.

    They also say not to grease the empty cups because the oil will just burn. (I use a spray-on oil even with my non-stick pans, but try not to get oil on parts of the pans not covered by batter.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 15, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

  13. Thanks for the dried-currant idea (instead of raisins). I’m thinking we’re going to “try a pudding” this weekend – and I’m not sure that’s enough time for me to develop adult taste for raisins. [wink]

    Comment by Hunter — January 15, 2009 @ 2:56 pm

  14. My fave puddings are bread pudding and a hot fudge pudding cake – one of those that magically makes its own sauce.


    Yeah for you for trying new recipes, Ardis.

    And I still fill empty muffin cups with water. So it must be true. hehe

    Comment by m&m — January 16, 2009 @ 12:55 am

  15. Thanks Ardis. I’ll give it a try. We sometimes substitute dried cranberries for the raisins, though it doesn’t look like that would work well for this recipe.

    Comment by BruceCrow — January 16, 2009 @ 7:37 am

  16. Well, I learned something this morning. While looking at the box of “currants,” I learned that they are actually Zante currants, or in other words, a particular variety of mini raisins. (!) They’re still very good and avoid some of the issues that people have with raisins.

    Comment by Researcher — January 16, 2009 @ 7:49 am

  17. Zante, eh? I had a very successful, very unusual experience researching a friend’s Greek ancestry once upon a time. The family came from the island often called Zante (the Italian name given by its one-time Italian occupiers), although the Greeks themselves call it Zakinthos.

    I hereby declare these currants the official mini-raisins of Keepapitchinin.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 16, 2009 @ 7:56 am

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