Upside-Down Caramel-Cranberry-Pecan Noodle Kugel

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Yield: about

    12

    Servings

Appears in

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.

Ingredients

For the Topping

  • 10 tablespoons ( sticks)unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing the pan
  • cups cranberries, washed, picked over, and patted dry
  • 1 cup lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1⅓ cups packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

For the Kugel

  • Salt
  • 12 ounces wide, flat egg noodles (not the twisted spiral kind, which won’t absorb as much of the liquids and flavoring)
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (if very dry, plump them in very hot tap water for 20 minutes and drain before using)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into bits
  • 1 cup small-curd creamed cottage cheese (see Cook’s Note)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup or granulated sugar

Method

Make the topping: generously butter the bottom and sides of a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish and scatter the cranberries and pecans evenly on the bottom.

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 5 quarts of cold water and teaspoons salt to a rapid boil in a large pot. Add the noodles and cook until just tender. Drain the noodles and return them to the pot. Stir the butter in until melted and let cool.

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.

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