Creamy desserts are a perfect foil to showcase millet—they provide enough cover to hide the small grain from plain view yet plenty of appeal to highlight its delicate, toothsome texture. This nimble lemon-infused dessert, similar to rice pudding, is a case in point. Aromatic white wine syrup caramelizes the grapes and ties the ingredients together, showing off this comforting ancient grain.
- 1 cup water
- 1⁄2 cup millet
- 2⁄3 cup whole or low-fat milk
- 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 3⁄4 cup dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio, or apple juice
- 1⁄4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 2 cups halved seedless grapes, preferably red or purple (about 10 ounces), plus about 1⁄4 cup (2 ounces) for garnish
- 3 whole cloves or a pinch of ground cloves
- 1 (4 by 1⁄2-inch) strip lemon zest, white pith removed
- 1 1⁄2 cups whole milk Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons limoncello or apple juice, or more as needed
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus a little more for garnish
- To prepare the millet, add the water and the millet to a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, 18 to 20 minutes. Stir in the milk, vanilla, and salt. Return to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and allow to cool for about 25 minutes.
- While the millet is cooling, make the pudding. Add the wine, honey, sugar, grapes, cloves, and the zest strip to a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium- high heat, stirring gently a few times for the sugars to dissolve, then cook at a lively simmer for about 2 minutes to just soften the grapes.
- Gently tip the grapes into a sieve, placed over a medium bowl to retain the liquid. Return the liquid, including the cloves and the zest, to the pot and bring to a boil. Cook at a vigorous simmer, adjusting the heat as needed, until the syrup starts to caramelize and turns a deep amber color, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes.
- To finish the pudding, be sure that both the millet and the syrup are not more than slightly warm to the touch. Remove the zest strip and the cloves from the syrup (you will have about 1⁄2 cup); set aside 2 tablespoons of the syrup for garnish. Add the remaining syrup, the yogurt, limoncello, and grated zest to a medium bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Fluff the millet with a fork and stir it into the yogurt mixture. Gently stir in the grapes as well. Divide the dessert between six bowls and chill, covered with plastic wrap, for 2 hours to allow the flavors to mingle.
- When ready to serve, garnish each bowl with a few grape halves. Spoon a bit of the reserved syrup on top (stir in a teaspoon of boiling water to loosen it if needed) and garnish with a bit of lemon zest.
Image courtesy of Erin Kunkel.