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Last month I had the good fortune to be invited to a special grapefruit dinner at FINO sponsored by TexaSweet. Every course featured Rio Star grapefruit, with cocktails and wine to match. I think they were trying to get us drunk, because those were some strong beverages!
I wasn’t sure what to expect because I rarely cook with grapefruit, but every course was enjoyable. My favorite was the grapefruit-cured hamachi crudo, served with dill and a cucumber yogurt sauce. It’s definitely something I would order again in a heartbeat, especially as I never attempt raw fish at home. My other favorite was the lamb chop, served with carrot saffron puree and a mouthwatering piquillo pepper stuffed with merguez sausage. I hate to use a cliché, but flavor. explosion. Really.
The second dessert was a vanilla panna cotta with grapefruit gelee on top. Now, I’m not a fan of panna cotta to begin with, but I did think this was too thick, and all the vanilla caviar had sunk to the bottom for some reason. The gelee on top was good and I think they worked together, but it was just off.
I was intrigued by the combination and it got me wondering if I could create a pudding with grapefruit. Citrus is often hard to work with because it reacts with dairy in unwanted ways, like the first time your toddler ODs on yogurt. Just as I was thinking it was an experiment I didn’t want to undertake, I saw that Patti over at Worth the Whisk had posted a tangerine pudding, so I knew it could be done!
This might not be pudding in the traditional sense, because it doesn’t have milk in it. As such, it looks sort of like jello, being more wiggly-jiggly than creamy pudding. On the first taste I wasn’t sure about it, but I put it back in the fridge and the next day I thought it was better. The flavors seem to meld together more the longer it sits, although if you’re a big grapefruit fan I don’t know how you would get it to last longer!
The vanilla flavor is faint, so you might decide to add in a tiny bit of vanilla extract. I used vanilla bean and vanilla sugar. I think adding more vanilla sugar would also help, as well as cut down on the bitterness of the grapefruit. However, the bitterness is what makes grapefruit, so try it the first time without messing too much with nature.
Don’t worry if you can’t find custard powder (although it is getting easier and easier to find these days). Cornstarch works just as well, plus if you’re gluten-free it’s the better option, as I have no idea if custard powder is safe.
- 3 tablespoons vanilla sugar
- 2 cups grapefruit juice, preferably Rio Star or Ruby Red
- 3 tablespoons custard powder, may substitute cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 vanilla pod, scraped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- In a medium saucepan, bring juice, custard powder, salt, and vanilla pod to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue stirring and cook until it resembles hair conditioner in thickness, approximately 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and butter. Pour into individual cups, cover, and store in refrigerator until set.