Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Polenta
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Credit: Gabriel Cruz, Executive Chef, Buffalo State Dining at Buffalo State, The State University of New York; Buffalo, New York
The National Culinary Review, May 2015
5¼ cups water, divided
1 cup pumpkin puree
4 cups brown sugar, divided
1 T. cinnamon
1 t. salt
1 T. vanilla
1 T. pumpkin flavor
2 cups cornmeal
8 oz. cream cheese + 16 oz. cream cheese, soft
¼ cup maple syrup
2¼ cups heavy cream, divided
4 T. butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts
1) Bring 5 cups water to a boil. Add pumpkin puree, 2 cups brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, vanilla and pumpkin flavor. Stir until all ingredients incorporated; fold in cornmeal. Remove from heat; stir until mixture is thick (oatmeal consistency). Fold in 8 oz. cream cheese. Spread mixture ½ inch thick on half sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Place in cooler.
2) Put 16 oz. soft cream cheese in mixer; mix on medium speed until creamy. Add maple syrup until combined. In separate bowl, whisk 2 cups heavy cream until thick. Fold cream cheese into whipped cream until smooth. Place in cooler.
3) Heat butter and remaining 2 cups brown sugar on medium heat. Stir with wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in remaining ¼ cup heavy cream until combined, whisking until mixture becomes thick.
4) Heat sugar and remaining ¼ cup water in deep 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with fork until melted and pale golden. Cook caramel without stirring, gently swirling pan, until golden. Stir in walnuts; pour onto baking sheet, tilting sheet to spread as thin as possible. Cool brittle completely at room temperature.
5) Cut polenta into 2-inch squares or circles; pan-fry on medium heat. Do not flip; crisp one side only. Put back in cooler.
6) To serve, place polenta square on plate. Top with cream cheese filling and crushed walnut brittle; repeat. Top with caramel and walnut brittle.
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