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Growing up, the cereal shelf of our pantry was woefully bare. You had your choice of Shredded Wheat, Grape-Nuts, or Cheerios. It was a 10-year-old's nightmare.
Being innovative (and hungry) youths, we learned to doctor up the options. Shredded Wheat was delicious under a good inch of raw heavy cream. Dry Cheerios and a handful of chocolate chips was a not-half-bad approximation at trail mix. Best of all, we would add Grape-Nuts to the custard base of our homemade vanilla ice cream.
Years of this behavior left me with a deep, abiding love for Grape-Nuts. Their humble, suspiciously gravel-like appearance belies a fantastically nutty flavor that works wonderfully in desserts. Ask any New Englander, and they'll nod and say Grape-Nuts pudding.
This vintage recipe, a pudding cake-like sweet studded with cereal, was developed back in 1926. I It didn't appear on the back of the Grape-Nuts box until 1952, and sometime between then and now, it very sadly disappeared from the box.
The batter is laced with lemon zest and juice and lightened up with whipped egg whites. It makes a sweet, soft dessert that separates into three layers as it bakes: an airy, puffy soufflé on top, a cake-like layer in the middle, and a creamy custard on the bottom. Every mouthful is rich and eggy and bright with lemon. The cereal gives it a bit of texture and a sweet, malty flavor.
Consider it the perfect balance between the high sophistication of a soufflé and the nursery food-type comfort of pudding. (What's not to like?)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 2 eggs, separated
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup Grape-Nuts cereal
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
How have you turned cereal into dessert? (Any favorite Grape-Nuts recipes?) Share your ideas in the comments.