from ExtraVeganZa by Laura Matthias

4 medium pears, ripe
1 1/2 c vanilla soy milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c maple syrup
2 1/2 tbsp whole or sifted spelt flour (I used all-purpose; she says any other flour works well)
2 tsp arrowroot powder
1/8 tsp cardamom, ground

Peel, core, and slice the pears into thin, bite-size pieces. Place them in a medium saucepan and saute on medium heat, stirring the pears so that they do not stick to the pan. Be sure to use ripe pears, as they will help provide enough juice to keep the pears from sticking. Add the ground cardamom and continue to stir.

In a separate bowl, place the remaining ingredients and whisk them together thoroughly. Pour this mixture into the saucepan with the pears and whisk together. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue whisking for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour the mixture evenly into 4 small dessert serving bowls. Chill the pudding for a couple of hours until set. Serves 4.

For Christmas morning, we were invited to my husband’s family’s farm for a potluck. They had decided on a theme of Turkish Breakfast- did you know that Saint Nicolas was from Turkey? It was really nice having a theme when trying to pick out food to share. It ended up being a really great brunch: the hostess and her daughter made bagels (the highlight for me- they were SO GOOD and chewy!). My mother-in-law made some delish potatoes fried in olive oil, and my sister-in-law made lentil soup, which was so good it made me mourn the fact that lentils and I don’t get along. There were some egg dishes as well, though I didn’t pay much attention to those… and we had this pudding after we cleared the dishes from the main course. There were also cookies served along with it, but they weren’t vegan.
I chose this pudding because of the cardamom. And because I love pears. Who doesn’t? Cardamom is a key flavor in the Turkish food and drink. The simple ingredient list, as well as the potential for transportation, were what sold me on this recipe (I made two double batches, and just chilled them right in the pots I cooked them in that we transported in the cooler). Aside from peeling and cutting the pears, this pudding was really easy to make; just a bit time consuming (we had 16 pears to prepare! Thank goodness Mike was a willing helper with that. Plus he got me a sweet new knife for Christmas, so that made it go faster too. xo!). Once those pears were in the pot, things went pretty quickly, and it began to look like pudding within a few moments of adding the whisked ingredients into the soft cooking pears. We ended up having a LOT of leftovers, so when a little vegan-pizza-and-cocktail party descended upon our house the night after Christmas, I was prepared with plenty of dessert for all.
The flavor of it is pretty intense with the vanilla, but I’m not sure it was the best vanilla flavor. I might try plain soy milk next time, and use some vanilla bean scrapings for a more genuine flavor. The texture of the pudding is really good. Which is weird to say about pudding- but it’s not uniform! There’s the pudding, and then there are the pear chunks. I think adding some granola in there would be over the top yummy for brekkie. Oh, and baby loved it. It was just the fuel she needed for her first horse ride!

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