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 like 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.
Of course, if you don’t want the extra sugar and alcohol, you can leave them out. The strawberries pair up beautifully with the pudding all by themselves. So does any summer fruit: raspberries, blueberries, nectarines, plums and peaches, or a mix of all of them. For that matter, snow pudding happens to be delicious even when there’s snow on the ground. You just swap in winter fruit – orange or grapefruit sections, for example – in place of the strawberries.
Snow Pudding with Spiked Strawberries
Start to finish: 4 1/2 hours (30 minutes active)
1 envelope (1/4-ounce) unflavored gelatin
2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
In a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup of water and let it stand for 5 minutes. Add 2/3 cup of the sugar, a pinch of salt and 1 cup water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar and gelatin have dissolved, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the lemon zest and juice, then set the saucepan into a bowl of ice and water to chill, stirring often, until the mixture is cold to the touch and has thickened to the consistency of raw egg whites, about 45 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until they just hold soft peaks, then transfer them to a bowl and set aside. Transfer the cooled gelatin mixture to the stand mixer bowl that the egg whites were in and beat until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the beaten egg whites to the gelatin mixture, then beat on high speed until the mixture is tripled in volume and thick enough to form a ribbon that takes 2 seconds to dissolve when the beater is lifted, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to 8 decorative glass serving bowls or large wine goblets, cover and chill until set, about 3 hours.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl toss the strawberries with the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar, the orange zest and the orange liqueur. Chill.
To serve, top each portion of the snow pudding with a big spoonful of strawberries.
Nutrition information per serving: 70 calories; 0 calories from fat (0 percent of total calories); 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 16 g sugar; 2 g protein; 55 mg sodium.
Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She currently stars in public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” and has written three cookbooks, including “Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”