I don’t like complicated desserts. Those that do require a bit more fuss must still retain their innocence– which is why many of my favorites are as likely to show up on the breakfast table as at teatime or dinner’s end.
I’m particularly fond of noodle pudding, or kugel, whose lush, melting texture is forgiving enough even for the most pastry-shy and invites lots of homey experimentation. I always prepare it in large quantities because leftovers make such wonderful brunches and snacks.
This kugel, blanketed with warm, gooey caramel zapped with tart cranberries, is lovely on a crisp, autumn Shabbat afternoon– or morning.
Make the topping: generously butter the bottom and sides of a 13 by
In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Pour this caramel evenly over the cranberries and pecans in the pan.
For the kugel, bring
Mix the dried cranberries into the noodles (I like to use my fingers to toss them together, breaking up any clumps of dried fruit).
In a very large bowl, beat the cream cheese on low speed until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in each of the following, one by one, until well blended: the cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup or sugar, and a generous pinch of salt. Add the noodles and toss until thoroughly combined. Spoon the cheese-noodle mixture evenly over the prepared cranberry-pecan topping in the pan. Smooth the top, then cover the pan with foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or, preferably, overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bring the kugel to room temperature. The baking pan will be quite full, so set it on a cookie sheet lined with foil, in case the bubbling caramel causes spillover. Uncover the pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until the top is golden-brown and feels firm, a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, and the sides of the kugel pull away from the pan slightly.
Let the kugel cool on a rack until set. The kugel is best warm (reheat if necessary) but also tasty at room temperature. Don’t serve it refrigerator-cold.
To serve, run a thin-bladed knife around the edges to loosen the kugel, then place a large platter or cutting board over the baking pan. Holding the platter and baking pan together tightly with both hands, invert the baking pan over the platter. Remove the baking pan and replace any fruit or nuts remaining in the pan on top of the kugel. Or cut and serve the kugel directly from the pan, inverting the spatula as you place the kugel on individual dessert plates.
© 2008 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.