carrageen moss pudding

Inspired by my Outstanding In the Field dinner at Ballymaloe Cookery School last fall, when I returned to Ireland this September, and the clouds rolled in one rainy afternoon, I decided to try making carrageen moss pudding. Carrageen moss has been used for centuries as a natural gelatine. I found it at a health store in Carandonagh, and for 2 EU, figured it was worth giving the pudding a try. When I enjoyed it at Ballymaloe, it was a snow-white, soft and slightly creamy pudding, sort of like a blanc mange, served with fresh berries. I was fortunate to sit with members of the Allen family during dinner, and Darina Allen’s granddaughter couldn’t get enough of the pudding.

My first attempt was a disaster. There is no nice way to describe the earthy, hay-like flavour or the off-white speckled colour from the moss. It was inedible. But that did not stop me from trying again, and attempt number two was far more successful. A different balance of moss to milk helped quite a bit. As did the sticky toffee pudding sauce that I served the pudding with.  So here I share with you the recipe that I adapted from Clodagh McKenna’s Irish Farmers’ Market Cookbook.

MAKES 6 SMALL POTS (125ml / 4.5oz each)

8g (1/4oz) carrageen moss…don’t overdo it or the pudding will be too gelatinous and thick
700ml (1/14 pint) milk…I used 4% milk and would suggest you use a fuller fat milk, not skim or 1%
4 tbsp granulated white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
dash of maple syrup (optional)
2 eggs, separated

Soak the carrageen moss in lukewarm (tepid) water for 15 minutes. While moss is soaking, fill medium heavy-bottomed pot with milk, 1 tbsp sugar, vanilla and maple syrup. Drain moss and place into saucepan with the milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Watch that you do not scald the milk. I have a tendency to do this and it makes cleaning the pot a real pain, not to mention gives a ‘cooked’ flavour to the milk. Strain the milk through a mesh sieve into a clean bowl, pushing the natural gelatine released from the moss through the sieve.

Separate the eggs and put the egg yolks into a bowl. Whisk in the remaining 3 tbsp of sugar. Whisk in the strained milk.

Whisk the egg whites until the form stiff peaks. Fold gently into the milk mixture. Clodagh McKenna recommends a figure eight movement to get rid of any blobs of egg white.

Fill your pots with the mixture and chill in the fridge for about an hour, or until set. Serve with fresh fruit like summer berries, fruit compote, or a sticky toffee sauce (really, there is so little that is not improved with the addition of sticky toffee sauce).