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Couscous Pudding with Plumped Brandied Prunes

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Serves six.

Quicker than rice pudding (you can have this on the table in 15 minutes flat) and just as comforting, this recipe, excerpted from the cookbook Dessert Express, can be varied to suit your menu.

  • 1 cup prunes (about 12)
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces, finely chopped
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 1/8 tsp. table salt
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the prunes, brandy, 1 Tbs. of the sugar, and the walnuts in a small microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Let stand on the counter to steep, covered, for 15 minutes.

Combine 1-1/2 cups of the half-and-half, the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and the salt in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous and cover. Take the pan off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Bring the remaining 1-1/2 cups half-and-half to a boil in a small saucepan. Whisk about 1/2 cup of the half and half into the egg yolks, 1 Tbs. at a time. Slowly whisk the remaining half-and-half into the egg yolks. Whisk the hot egg yolk mixture into the couscous. Turn the heat to medium high and cook, stirring constantly, until the pudding just starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.

Spoon the hot couscous pudding into bowls, top with the prunes, and serve.

This recipe appears in Dessert Express by Lauren Chattman: 100 great desserts you can make in 30 minutes or less.
Variations

For a more North African flavor, substitute dried apricots and pistachios for the prunes and walnuts. Or for a nod to classic American home cooking, substitute dried cranberries and pecans.

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