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Off the Shelf: Milk Puddings with Rosewater Syrup

Here's the first recipe from Off the Shelf that I haven't been terribly thrilled with. There nothing wrong with this simple dessert of milk, gelatin, vanilla, and syrup. It's just a little bland, and almost seems like nursery food.

If you like panna cotta, you may want to give this pudding recipe a try. The texture isn't quite as silky-soft as panna cotta, but the flavor is very similar. I used whole milk, and the texture of the puddings was slightly rubbery. For a lusher dessert, try half-and-half. Don't use milk with a fat content lower than 2%, as the puddings will be too lean.

The rosewater syrup isn't necessary, but it does add a nice extra flavor to the dessert. Rose flower water can be found in well-stocked grocery stores and health food stores. It has a strong floral aroma, but the flavor isn't overpowering. It's a common ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Indian desserts.

Prep Time: 5 minutes, plus chilling time
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

1 1/2 Tbsp plain gelatin
3 Tbsp water
3 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/3 cup superfine sugar

3/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp rose flower water

Place the gelatin and 3 Tbsp water in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Add the milk, superfine sugar, and vanilla bean and heat for 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and pour the mixture into six 1/2-cup capacity ramekins or molds. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight.

To make the syrup: Place the 3/4 cup water and the 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add the rose flower water and let cool.

To serve, unmold the puddings onto plates and spoon some of the syrup over the top.

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