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A Presidential Preference?

An oft-repeated story is that chilled pawpaws were George Washington’s favorite dessert. There’s no historical documentation for that. Still, it’s hard to imagine Washington would not have enjoyed this recipe from Alan Bergo, a professional chef based in St. Paul, Minnesota, and an authority on cooking wild plants and mushrooms. See more of his work at foragerchef.com

To Make a Pawpaw Puree

Remove the flesh from your pawpaw, discard the seeds and puree in a food processor. Be careful to work quickly pureeing your pawpaw flesh, since it will oxidize if left alone for too long.

To Make Pudding

Makes 3 cups of pudding, enough to serve four people:

  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup pureed pawpaw fruit
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, plus more to garnish
  • Fresh mint leaves to garnish (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Tiny pinch kosher salt, about 1/8 teaspoon
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a mixing bowl set over a wet towel to steady it, beat the egg, egg yolk and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gently sift the flour in the bowl, then fold in gently.
  2. Put the milk in a nonreactive saucepan. Turn the heat on the pan, setting it at low-medium.
  3. When the milk is hot but not boiling, turn the heat down to low. Gradually whisk the egg and flour mixture into the milk. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly and minding to sides of the pan to ensure that the mixture doesn’t stick or burn on the bottom of the pan. In a perfect world, the bottom of the pan should be perfectly clean when you are done making the pudding, with no stuck-on particles. When the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes, turn off the heat and continue to whisk for a minute or two to prevent clumping. Stir in the lemon juice, butter, pawpaw puree and tiny pinch of kosher salt.
  4. Pour the pudding through a strainer into a container like a metal salad bowl or plastic storage container, working in small batches if necessary. Place plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding to prevent it from forming a skin. Cool the pudding immediately in the refrigerator, then reserve until needed. The pudding will keep for at least a week.
  5. To serve, whip the cream and tablespoon of powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Spoon the pudding into four 1-cup ramekins, leaving ½ inch of headspace on top for the whip cream. Cover the pudding with the whipped cream and smooth the top with a pastry spatula. Sift on some powdered sugar, garnish each with a mint leaf if using, and serve.