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I've got a pathetic confession to make. I've never tried kugel, the classic Jewish noodle and custard pudding. I have no excuse either, especially given my pastry background. Even when I lived on the south shore of Long Island, where delis abound that sell big square hunks of it, I never opted to give it a go. For some reason I couldn't get over the sweet + pasta flavor profile, though I've certainly eaten plenty of sweet rice desserts. In my defense though, it was mostly the raisins that put me off (I'm averse to raisins in most desserts, especially custards), and most of the kugels I've encountered have had them.
So here I am, at the age that I'm at, never having tucked into a kugel. So I baked one. I can't say that it was the wisest way to try it for the first time. How do I know what it's supposed to taste like? What about the texture? Undaunted, I plowed in with a base recipe that I'd put together from a few online offerings. With ingredients like sour cream, cottage cheese, and cream cheese, this dessert seemed way more indulgent than I ever imagined. How could I not love it? For mine, I skipped the cream cheese but tossed in a generous amount of melted white chocolate—an unusual but mild enough ingredient that would add yet another layer of richness to the flavors. And because white chocolate is so buttery, I left out any additional butter.
Pre-boiling the egg noodles keeps them nice and soft, and baking the pudding on an upper rack nicely browns the top. Don't over-bake the pudding or the eggs will curdle, as mine almost did (the edges definitely did). I'm assuming that you want the pudding just set, sliceable, but still creamy. The flavor and texture was like a warm white chocolate cheesecake, slightly tangy from the sour cream and sweet and buttery from the white chocolate. It's even better served cold the next day. I could kick myself that I waited so long to try it, and when I'm in NY again I know right were I'm headed—to savor the real thing and see how mine stacked up.
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About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore working on her new baking cookbook, and as a recipe developer for HungryGoWhere Singapore. Check out her blog: shophousecook.com . Follow Yvonne on Twitter.
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