Maple-Anise Fregola Pudding with Golden Raisins and Hazelnuts

November 25, 2011 § 6 Comments

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Edit 12/6: The poll is now up, so vote for this recipe or any of the other awesome looking recipes at MarxFoods!

I mentioned in my panzanella that I made some farroto with saffron from Marx Foods, implying that I would be involved with their Fregola Sarda Recipe Challenge. Now I am here to write about what I did with the other ingredients I was sent for that challenge. I needed to develop a recipe using Fregola Sarda – small couscous-like toasted pasta from Italy – which also utilized one of three additional ingredients: saffron (used it in the farotto!), vanilla beans (I will be buying a few more along with some booze to make my own vanilla extract!) and whole star anise (bingo!) AND the recipe had to be a dessert. I love to bake and I love to eat desserty things, but my baking knowledge isn’t at the recipe development level unless I am afforded multiple trials so I decided to use a non-baking technique which would allow for flexibility during execution so that I could use my instincts. My thoughts went to tapioca pudding or rice pudding. I decided to make the pudding “risotto-style” by sauteing the fregola sarda in butter, stirring continuously and adding milk slowly as the pot dries out. I didn’t know exactly how much milk I would need, but I had 4 cups at the ready.

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I used the star anise by steeping it in the milk and then discarding it. The flavor comes through very clearly, but the milk calms it down. It retains that recognizable licorice flavor, but is softened in a very appealing way. I sweetened the fregola with maple syrup because I love the combination of maple and anise. Finally, plumped up golden raisins dot the pudding; this ingredient is optional but wonderful if you’re a raisin fan (currants might be even nicer). Chopped hazelnuts finish the dish and add crunch to the creamy and aromatic fregola pudding.

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1 year ago, today: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Maple-Anise Fregola Pudding with Golden Raisins and Hazelnuts:
I used exactly 4 cups of milk in this preparation, but I recommend have 4 1/2 cups available to allow for the possibility of a slower cooking variety of fregola sarda, as in risotto made with arborio rice. You may even need only 3 1/2 cups of the milk, particularly if you leave the raisins out. Just start tasting after you have add 3 cups to gauge how much you will need, and continue tasting until the fregola is slightly tender and spongy.


– 4 1/2 cups whole milk (lower fat works but whole fat works best)
– 3 whole star anise
– 2 tbsp butter
– 1 cup fregola sarda
– 1/3 cup golden raisins (optional, or try another small or chopped dried fruit)
– 1/3 cup maple syrup
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp nutmeg
– 1 cup hazelnuts

Place milk in a small saucepan with star anise, scald and lower to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove star anise and turn down to the lowest heat possible. Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pot and saute fregola to coat completely in fat. Add a half cup of milk to the fregola at a time, stirring constantly and adding more milk when the fregola is almost dry. Add raisins when about half of the milk has been added. Continue cooking until the fregola is tender (start tasting after 3 cups of milk have been added). Add maple syrup, salt and nutmeg with the last half cup of milk and remove from heat. Toast hazelnuts in a dry skillet until fragrant, moving constantly. Remove immediately and chop roughly. Serve fregola with hazelnuts to top.

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