Got Milk?

The first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week, an event designed, as the name implies, to promote breastfeeding on a global scale. As you may have noticed from my previous posts, breastfeeding is a big part of my life right now, even though I have to come at it a little sideways. Nolan has had latching issues from Day One, so I’ve been exclusively pumping for him since Day Two. It is a huge time investment—I just did some quick math, and estimate that I’ve spent at least 360 hours attached to that pump since Nolan’s birth 19 weeks ago (that is a conservative estimate, based on 8 20-minute sessions per day… it sometimes takes 30 minutes per session, and I pumped 9-10 times per day the first month or two, while establishing my supply). With all that effort, I produce just barely enough for Nolan on a daily basis, with perhaps a few ounces to store in the freezer against future need. But it is such a worthwhile investment, and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have both the supply and the time to pump for my son.

Nolan, 1 week old

I realize that breastfeeding may not be an option for every family, but it is so incredibly beneficial for both mother and baby that it is certainly worth attempting, even for a short period of time. I am bound and determined to at least reach 6 months, and a year or more if possible.

In case you were wondering what set off this little discourse on my foodblog, you can thank Linda at Make Life Sweeter! for hosting an event called Got Milk? in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, for which this post is my entry. Anyway, off the soap box and on with the food.

I had some praline paste leftover from the filbert gateau even after whipping up a batch of praline ricotta pancakes. It didn’t amount to much, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out, so I used it to flavor some vanilla pudding instead. I adapted a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, using 1% milk rather than whole milk. It worked out alright, but I imagine the texture would be a bit creamer and less gloppy with a higher fat content. I’m not convinced that her method of using the food processor to make the pudding was worth the extra dishes, however; the stove-top tempering method has always worked just fine for me.

Praline Pudding

2 1/4 C 1% or whole milk
6 T sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
2 T butter, room temperature
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 C praline paste/powder

Bring 2 cups of milk and 3 T sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, blend remaining 3 T sugar and egg yolks for 1 minute. Add remaining 1/4 cup milk and pulse just to mix. Then add cornstarch and salt and pulse a few more times.

With the machine still running, very slowly add hot milk mixture. Process for a few seconds more, then pour everything back into the saucepan. Whisk without stopping over medium heat until the pudding thickens and some bubbles pop on the surface. Do not let it boil completely, so if it hasn’t thickened yet, turn down the heat. Scrape the pudding back into the machine (avoiding any scorched spots) and pulse a few more times. Add butter, vanilla, and 3 T praline paste, and pulse until evenly blended.

Pour the pudding evenly into 6 4-oz ramekins or cups. Press a piece of plastic wrap over each surface. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve with a sprinkle of praline powder or some caramelized nuts.

Source: Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan (p. 384).

Praline Paste

1 C (4 ½ oz.) hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 C sugar

Line a jelly roll pan with a silpat, or lightly buttered parchment.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. Remember – this is an extremely hot mixture. Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several more minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Source: Great Cakes by Carol Walter

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