Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts with Maple Glaze

I go through stages in cooking and baking where I become obsessed with a particular thing. In 2017 and 2018, it was smoothie bowls. Last year and the beginning of this year, it was laminate, aka buttery French pastries.

Now, I’m heading into my baked doughnut stage, and I couldn’t be happier. It all started at the beginning of the pandemic when I was stuck inside for days on end, and I wanted a simple baking project that would deliver delicious results.

I also wanted something that wasn’t laden with fat and grease. I love a fried doughnut as much (or more) than the next person, but I don’t like making big batches of them at home. They really only taste good on day one, and I feel gross if I eat a bucket full of them by myself.

That’s not the case with baked doughnuts. They are fluffy and light, and they pack a lot of flavor without drowning in oil and grease. Yes; they have a different texture than standard doughnuts, but that’s not a bad thing. They’re like a lighter cake doughnut that you can eat three at a time.

Which brings me to these apple cider doughnuts with maple glaze. I went to an apple orchard last week with my boyfriend and picked up a big jug of local cider. The first thing on my list to make with it were doughnuts.

The batter incorporates a healthy pour of apple cider, fall spices, and buttermilk, which gives it a tangy flavor that balances the sweet and tart flavors.

The maple glaze on top though is what really steals the show. Make sure you use good maple syrup because that makes a big difference in flavor.

I sprinkled some nonpareils on top of each doughnut. If you go this route, make sure you put the sprinkles on as fast as you can after you apply the glaze. The glaze sets quickly and you want to make sure the sprinkles adhere to the doughnut before it does.

Here’s a song to get you started on your apple cider doughnut journey.

Baked Apple Cider Doughnut with Maple Glaze

Ingredients

for the doughnuts:
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup buttermilk

for the maple glaze:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
pinch of kosher salt

Directions

Grease two doughnut pans and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the softened butter until smooth, then beat in the apple cider and buttermilk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined (do not overmix). Spoon or pipe the batter into the prepared baking pans.

Bake the doughnuts for 8-10 minutes or until the tops spring back to the touch. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing them and placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the doughnuts are completely cool, making the glaze. Melt the butter and maple syrup together in a small saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the confectioners’ sugar and salt. Dip the top of a doughnut in the glaze, place on a wire rack, and put sprinkles on top. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts. Enjoy!

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Cherry Coconut Granola with Cacao Nibs

On Labor Day I thought about making pancakes or French toast for breakfast, and then I decided to make granola instead. Pancakes and French toast are all about immediate gratification, which I’m a big fan of, but homemade granola is the gift that keeps on giving.

I usually cave and buy granola pre-made, but there’s something special about making it at home. You get to play around with flavor and texture combos, and you also get to control the amount of sugar that goes into it. Some granola is way too sweet, so I like having the option of adding just the right amount of sweetener.

You can play around with the dried fruit and nuts that you include in my recipe, but I think a good standard granola recipe always includes three basics: nuts, dried fruit, and of course, oats. You can leave out the coconut if you’re not a fan, but I like how it pairs with the cherries and cacao nibs in this recipe.

I don’t always like eating yogurt every morning for breakfast, but since I’ve made this granola, I’ve had yogurt bowls for three days straight. The granola lasts for a month in an airtight container, so I see many more yogurt bowls in my future.

If you want to see me making the granola step by step, visit my Instagram page.

Here’s a song to get you started on your homemade granola journey.

Cherry Coconut Granola with Cacao Nibs

Ingredients

260 g rolled oats
225 g combined coconut flakes, chia seeds and sliced almonds
115 g apple juice
115 g maple syrup
55 g melted coconut oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp flaky sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
170 g dried cherries
cacao nibs to taste

Directions

First, combine the rolled oats with the mixed coconut flakes, chia seeds, and sliced almonds in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the apple juice, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, sea salt, and cinnamon until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients on the dry and toss with a spatula to combine. Spread onto a prepared baking sheet so it’s in one even layer.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the granola for about 45-50 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes, until it’s evenly browned. Remove it from the oven, let it cool completely on the baking sheet, then toss in the dried cherries and cacao nibs. Store in an airtight container for a month. Enjoy!

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Caramel Apple Galette

When I went to the farmers’ market a couple weekends ago, I couldn’t believe it because I saw the apple stand for the first time. Usually that means it’s fall, and two weeks ago, it felt like anything but fall in St. Louis. It was still upward of 90 degrees F and so humid that my hair puffed up every time I walked outside.

Now it’s cooled off a bit, and it’s easier to believe that fall is coming. Even though it seemed way too early to do this, I used the first of the season’s apple crop to make a caramel apple galette.

I like making galettes because they’re sort of a blank canvas for anything you want to put on top. They’re an especially good vehicle for fruit, which pairs well with buttery, flaky pastry and sugar.

The star of this galette, though, is the homemade caramel sauce. Believe it or not, I had never made caramel before making this galette. I thought it would be difficult, but it’s actually pretty easy as long as you pay attention every step of the way. Making caramel is all about watching for different smells, colors, and textures. You start with sugar and water, add cream and butter incrementally, and then toss in some vanilla and salt at the last minute, once the sauce is thick and brown.

I had extra sauce after drizzling some on top of the tarts, so I put it in a glass jar in the fridge. You can warm it up if you want to use it again, because it will harden in colder temperatures.

One more note: Any apple works well in this recipe, but I think tart apples work especially well. It balances the sweetness and gives it a kick.

Here’s a song to get you started on your caramel apple galette journey.

Caramel Apple Galette

Ingredients

for the caramel sauce:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
pinch of salt

for the galette dough:
1 cup AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
7 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup ice water

for the galette:
1 1/2 Tbsp AP flour
2 Tbsp sugar
3-4 tart apples, sliced thin
1/4 cup caramel sauce

Directions

First, make the galette dough. Pulse together the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until small pieces form. Transfer the mixture to a wide bowl and work the dough with your fingers until it starts coming together. Sprinkle the ice water over the dough and continue tossing until the dough comes together completely. Form into a ball, tightly wrap in plastic wrap, flatten it slightly into a disk, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Next, make the caramel sauce. Mix together the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is boiling. Make sure your cream is measured out and your butter is cut up.

Raise the heat to high and cook the mixture without stirring for about eight minutes, swirling it every so often until the mixture starts to color. Lower the heat a little and let the mixture take on a deep brown color.

Turn off the heat and pour in the cream. It will be a little chaotic in the pan so protect your hand with an oven mitt. Once the mixture settles, whisk in the butter until smooth. Add the vanilla seeds and salt. Cool the caramel completely before serving and storing.

Finally, assemble your tart. Take the galette dough out of the fridge and allow it to come to more of a room temperature. Roll it out into a 12-inch circle. Put the dough on a prepared baking sheet and refrigerate it while you cut the apples. Leave a border and sprinkle the dough with flour and half the sugar. Layer your apple slices on top and then sprinkle on the rest of the sugar. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Fold the edges of the galette over the fruit, then refrigerate the entire tart until it’s firm.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Take your prepared tart out of the fridge and brush the edges with cold water and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Allow the galette to cool slightly before serving. Ice cream or whipped cream is delicious on top. Enjoy!

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Oeufs en cocotte

Oeufs en cocotte, or eggs in a cocoon, is a quintessential French dish that sounds really intimidating to make, but it’s actually not.

For this version, I made a shallot and leek base, sautéd some spinach to put on top, and then cracked an egg over each ramekin and topped that with some heavy cream. Yes; it’s a lot going on in one little ramekin. But it all comes together quickly and pretty seamlessly, making it the perfect thing to serve for brunch or even a quick weeknight dinner.

The other thing about this dish that might intimidate some people is the water bath. Not many American recipes call for baking things in the oven with a layer of hot water around them, so it sounds scary and wrong. But the reality is, it’s easy and it creates an egg dish with a velvety texture. I like to pre-load my ramekins into a large baking dish, heat up some water in an electric kettle, then carefully pour it in, making sure not to get any in the ramekins themselves. Too much water in the eggs/cream equals a soppy mess.

The other piece of advice I’d give you about this recipe is, commit to the crack. It’s scary to crack individual eggs into ramekins. I’m not sure why, but it is. I guess the margin for error is higher, but the good news is, you probably won’t screw up badly enough to ruin it. You crack the egg in first before you pour cream on top, so if you have an egg crack issue, you can just scoop it out and try again with another egg. However, a little confidence goes a long way. Trust me.

Here’s a song to get you started on your oeufs en cocotte journey.

Oeufs en cocotte

Ingredients

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 small leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 large shallot, diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
5 oz baby spinach
1/2 tsp ground cumin
sea salt and pepper
3 oz smoked salmon, minced
4 large eggs (or 8 if you use bigger ramekins)
6 Tbsp heavy cream
ground nutmeg

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or grease four 8-oz ramekins or eight 4-oz ramekins, and set them aside.

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and shallot and cook on low heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the wine and cook the mixture into the liquid is absorbed. Set the pan aside.

In another pan, melt another tablespoon of butter over medium heat and add the spinach and cumin. Season with some healthy pinches of salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spinach has wilted. Let the mixture cool and then squeeze the extra liquid out with your fingers. I like to wrap mine in a clean kitchen towel, wind it up, and squeeze. Finely chop the spinach mixture and set it aside.

Add some leek mixture to each ramekin, followed by some spinach, and then break one egg inside each one. Pour the cream around the egg yolk, trying hard not to cover to yolk. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Transfer the ramekins to a baking dish and pour hot water in so it comes halfway up the side of each ramekin. Try not to get any water in each ramekin. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the egg white is set and the yolk is runny. Serve with bread. Enjoy!

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Iced Lavender Latte

Lavender lattes are one of my favorite things. I’m not sure when I had one for the first time, but ever since then, I’ve craved them.

There are a bunch of places in St. Louis that make a delicious lavender latte, and I usually patronize them when a craving hits. But now COVID-19 is a concern, so even though I know cafés and coffee shops are taking precautions, I find myself making my favorite drinks at home.

That’s where this iced lavender latte comes in. I was thinking yesterday about going to get one today from a local coffee shop, but then I thought, why not try to make one myself? I have a bunch of fresh lavender in my herb garden I’ve barely touched all summer, plus some dried culinary lavender from when I made sourdough lavender apricot bread.

What’s the difference between culinary lavender and garden lavender? you may ask. Culinary lavender is dried and it’s made for baking/cooking. It has lavender flavor but it’s not as potent as fresh lavender, which packs a powerful punch.

This lavender latte recipe includes culinary and fresh lavender so you can get the most flavor possible without completely decimating your lavender garden. If you want to play around with proportions, or you don’t have any lavender in your backyard, you could add a teaspoon or two more of culinary lavender, and I’m sure it would taste just as good.

This is one of my favorite drinks I’ve made all summer, right after peach sharbat (more on that later). The lavender syrup is subtly sweet and fragrant, and it adds just the right amount of flavor to an otherwise dull latte.

Here’s a song to get you started on your iced lavender latte journey.

Iced Lavender Latte

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp culinary lavender
2 lavender sprigs, plus another for topping
1 vanilla bean, split in half
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
milk of your choice
1-2 shots espresso

Directions

First, make the lavender syrup. Combine the sugar, water, culinary lavender, two lavender sprigs, vanilla bean, and vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and then let the mixture cook for a minute. Remove the pan from heat and set aside until cool.

Once the mixture has cooled, strain it into a container. You can use a little to make your latte and save the rest in the fridge for later. Fill a cup with ice and pour in some milk and a couple tablespoons of lavender syrup (or less, if you don’t like your latte as sweet). Mix, then add the espresso and mix again. Enjoy!

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My Very First Cheese Soufflé

I made my first cheese soufflé a couple weeks ago. I guess I feel the same way about it that people do about their firstborns.

Except that unlike most people with firstborns, I forgot to tell you about it for two weeks. It’s okay, though- it doesn’t reflect how good it was or how much I think you should make it.

A cheese soufflé is a great project for people who are interested in French cuisine, or just people who are interested in doing fun things with eggs. If you get a kick out of making meringues or whipped egg whites, you’ll probably enjoy making this soufflé. It’s a little bit of a nail biter, but if you take deep breaths and persevere, you’ll be rewarded with a light and fluffy, yet rich and reassuring, dish that makes you question why you never made soufflé before.

A key to making good cheese soufflé is timing. I used this recipe, and you’ll notice that in Step 3, it tells you to beat the egg yolks immediately into the béchamel sauce. This is really important because you’re essentially tempering the eggs in the sauce, and you don’t want to be left with a scrambled, curdled mess. The recipe says to do it one egg yolk at a time, but I had all mine cracked into a bowl, so I just poured them in slowly and it worked well.

Also, you don’t want to overbeat your egg whites. You want the peaks to be stiff so they create a light, fluffy soufflé, but you don’t want to beat them until they’re too firm. Then your soufflé will be grainy.

Finally, it’s important to turn down the temperature of the oven right after you put the soufflé in. Whatever you do, *do not* open the oven to check on your soufflé while it’s baking. It could cause the whole thing to deflate or topple, which pretty much defeats the purpose.

So anyway, those are my tips as a novice soufflé maker. Now that I’ve made one and it turned out so well, I have my eye on my next soufflé. I’m thinking about doing a chocolate version for dessert soon.

Here’s a song to get you started on your soufflé journey.

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Wheat Berry Corn and Zucchini Salad

This wheat berry, corn, and zucchini salad was born, like so many great things, of necessity.

I was thinking about making a “zoodles” salad out of spiralized zucchini, corn, cheese, and cilantro. Then I got out my spiralizer attachment, which I haven’t used in five plus years, and started spiralizing zucchini. Everything went well until I tried to use the giant zucchini I got in my weekly farmers’ market box by cutting it in half. The attachment basically dug a hole in the zucchini, a feat I didn’t even know was possible.

I persisted because I’m the type of person who doesn’t go down without a fight. I was left with mutilated zucchini, plus a handful of zoodles. Then and there I decided that the zoodles trend is over and the next time I’ll use the spiralizer attachment, it will be to peel an apple (since apparently that’s a possibility).

I also decided to chop up the mangled zucchini, sauté it, and throw it into a wheat berry salad with cooked corn kernels, cilantro, queso fresco, olive oil, lots of lime juice, salt, and pepper. I added some red pepper flakes for spice.

I’m not sure if the salad tasted good because I was so proud of myself for rebuilding dinner after I almost destroyed it, or if it was because it was actually good, but either way, I’d highly recommend it. It’s a great way to use up leftover produce. You could also add some chopped tomato and it would taste delicious.

You could also sub in quinoa or another grain if you’re not a fan of wheat berries. If you’ve never tried wheat berries, I’d recommend them. They’re a little like farro except smaller, and they have a nice chewy consistency that pairs well with crisp vegetables.

Here’s a song to get you started on your wheat berry, corn, and zucchini salad journey.

Wheat Berry, Corn, and Zucchini Salad

Ingredients

1 cup dry wheat berries
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 corn cob, sheathed and kernels removed
a handful of cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
queso fresco for topping
the juice of one lime
a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Cook your wheat berries according to package directions. While the wheat berries are cooking, make your corn and zucchini sauté. Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add the chopped zucchini and corn kernels. Cook, stirring every so often, until the zucchini and corn is golden brown.

Remove the pan from heat and toss the wheat berries and zucchini and corn with cilantro, lime juice, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and queso fresco. Toss together and top with more queso and cilantro as desired. Enjoy!

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Zucchini Tart with Basil Ricotta Filling

Tarts with puff pastry are one of my favorite things to make. They look super impressive and are deceptively easy.

I guess you could make your own puff pastry from scratch, but unless I’m making croissants or pain au chocolat, I always buy this frozen variety from Dufour. It tastes like homemade, it looks beautiful, and it bakes up well in the oven. It’s the perfect vehicle for whatever you want to put on top.

For this tart, I shaved some zucchini really thin using a mandoline peeler and put them on top of a basil ricotta filling. Slicing zucchini super thin is key because thick zucchini will make the crust too watery.

You can also eliminate some water from the zucchini ahead of time by tossing the slices in salt, letting them sit for a while, and then gently wringing out the liquid with a paper towel. Yes, it’s an additional step, but trust me, it’s worth it. The zucchini will hold its texture and not be so soggy after you bake it.

I really like the zucchini/basil/ricotta combo in this tart, but you could get creative with fillings. A pesto spread or even crème fraîche would taste good with some vegetables on top.

Tarts like this always go really fast in my house. My boyfriend and I ate almost all of it in one sitting, and then I had a slice the next day for lunch. I always wish I had more after I finish it.

Here’s a song to get you started on your zucchini tart journey. It’s a throwback that resurfaced earlier this afternoon as I was procrastinating work and browsing music.

Zucchini Tart with Basil Ricotta Filling

Ingredients

1 medium zucchini, sliced thin with a mandoline peeler
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup full-fat ricotta cheese
1 handful basil leaves
2 tsp lemon juice
1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 Tbsp water

Directions

Place the zucchini in a colander and toss with 2 tsp of salt. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour. This gives the zucchini time to shed excess water. When it’s done, gently wring it out piece by piece using paper towels and pat dry. Set aside for later.

Pulse the olive oil, ricotta cheese, basil leaves, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in a food processor until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Unfold the puff pastry onto the sheet, being careful not to rip it. With a sharp knife, carefully score the pastry 1/4 inch from the edges, making sure not to cut all the way through the dough. Spread your ricotta mixture evenly over the pastry, not going past the border you made with you knife. Arrange the zucchini evenly over the top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg yolk. Bake the tart for 20-25 min, or until the crust is puffed and golden brown. Cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!

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Watermelon, Cucumber, and Mint Salad

This is the most refreshing summer salad. I will not take any other nominations.

The inspiration for this salad came to me partly due to the abundance of fresh mint in my garden, and partly because it’s so hot in St. Louis. July is known for being hot and humid here, and yesterday was no exception. I went on a walk in the morning and I came back dripping. I didn’t want anything heavy for lunch, so I decided to make this watermelon, cucumber, and mint salad.

As with all things salad, it helps to use the freshest ingredients possible. For this salad, I used some local cucumber from the farmers’ market, mint from my backyard, fresh watermelon, and some really good cheese.

I also sprinkled on some sumac, which I think gives the whole thing a kick. In case you’re not familiar with sumac, it’s a reddish-colored spice used often in Middle Eastern cooking. A friend gave me a bunch of spices as a gift a couple years ago and I’m still using the sumac. It’s great to sprinkle on salads or yogurt dishes.

I think mint really makes this salad, so don’t be tempted to sub it with basil or another herb. However, you could get creative with the fruit you use. I bet cantaloupe would also work well, or even tomatoes.

Here’s a song to get you started on your watermelon salad journey. Have I mentioned how much I like the new Ellie Goulding album?

Watermelon, Cucumber, and Mint Salad

Ingredients

half of one small watermelon, cut up into cubes
half of one medium-sized cucumber, sliced and halved
1/2 cup of fresh mint
drizzle of avocado oil
sprinkle of sumac
sprinkle of flaky sea salt
crumbled ricotta salata for serving

Directions

Combine all the ingredients through the mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with avocado oil and sprinkle with sumac and flaky sea salt. Finish with crumbled ricotta salata. Enjoy right away.

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Sweet Corn Vanilla Pudding with Blackberries

Believe it or not, this is the one of the first times I’ve ever made pudding not from a box. Shocking, I know.

I think it’s because in the grand scheme of desserts, pudding kind of falls by the wayside for me. It’s great when I eat it, but I don’t crave it the way I do chocolate chip cookies or ice cream.

However, the best thing about pudding is that it’s a vehicle for pretty much any flavor. It’s an especially good way to show off summer produce, which I did in this sweet corn vanilla pudding.

We’ve all had, or at least heard of, corn pudding, but usually that’s a side dish at Thanksgiving. This pudding is the sweet variety. It has a good helping of vanilla bean paste, which pairs well with the savory and sweet flavors in the corn, and it has lots of cream and sugar.

There are also small flecks of corn kernels in the pudding. If you’re not a fan of this texture, I would recommend straining the pudding before you put it in the fridge to set. Personally I didn’t mind a few small pieces here and there, but you might want a smoother texture.

I topped the pudding with stewed blackberries but any summer fruit would work well here. I bet blueberries or strawberries would also be super delicious.

Whatever fruit you use, make sure that it’s top quality and nice and juicy. The dish is simple but it gets a boost from fresh, seasonal ingredients. Trust me; you can taste a difference.

Here’s a song to get you started on your sweet corn vanilla pudding journey. It comes recommend from my friend Julicia, whom I trust for most things music.

Sweet Corn Vanilla Pudding with Blackberries

Ingredients

for the pudding:
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 cups fresh, uncooked yellow corn kernels
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup honey
pinch of kosher salt

for the blackberries:
1 cups fresh blackberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions

Combine the cornstarch with 1 Tbsp water in a small bowl and set aside. Combine the corn, cream, honey, salt, and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for a minute. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool to a warm room temperature.

Once the mixture has cooled, transfer it to a blender and puree until the corn is smooth. If you want an even smoother texture with no corn kernels, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Divide the mixture between six pudding cups, cover them with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least six hours or overnight.

Make the blackberry topping well ahead of serving so it has time to cool. Add the blackberries and sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook them, stirring with a heatproof silicone spatula, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the saucepan from heat and cool the mixture to room temperature. Put the cooked berries in tupperware and store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Serve the pudding by placing some of the blackberry mixture on top. Enjoy!

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