Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Junket, the Mystery Dessert

So, ask me.  
What is it?

A dessert.
 Well, the box says rennet custard.  So like a pudding?
Kinda sorta.  But not thick and gooey like pudding.   And not especially rich.   More like sweet milk jello.

How is it that nobody around here has ever heard of Junket?  Zero of my friends were ever served Junket as a kid.   Apparently Junket is pretty much unknown here in the U.S. (although it seems to have been readily available), but much more common in Europe. I'm assuming my Kiwi mother had Junket made for her by her British mom.  And she made it for me.
I can remember making Junket for  some of my room-mates in college and they loved it.  Then I made it for my guys.
And I hadn't thought of it in ages, but the other day I started thinking about the cold sweet milkiness of it and just  had to have some.
Junket is made with Rennet,  an enzyme.  It comes from cows.  That's all you need to know about that.  It is used to make a variety of desserts and cheeses.  Rennet begins the  digestion of food. When it is added to milk that's just a little warmer than human body temperature (like a cow's body temperature) it causes  the milk to ... not curdle, because it's not sour.....not thicken, but to turn into a kind of loose, jello-ey,  er...well, ... not pudding.  And not rubbery.
Is that not clear now?
Junket is sweet just the way the milk in the bottom of the cereal bowl is when you eat sugared cereal, which, believe it or not, is now being served in a very hot NYC restaurant.  Cereal Milk, they call it.  And they sell that!
I  estimate the calories in 1/2 cup serving of Junket to be around 100, which I consider to be a bargain  for this much sweet delight.

This is what you will need.
2 cups of Whole Milk.
1 junket tablet (pulverize with two spoons)
mixed with 3 T. sugar
Vanilla (oops, not pictured)
Nutmeg  (Freshly, finely grated is best)

Here are the steps. The actual composition should take 5 minutes, max.
1. Pour 2 C. milk and some vanilla (1tsp.) in a saucepan.
2. Put 3T sugar combined with one crushed Junket tablet aside. 
3. Heat the milk, stirring constantly, until it registers barely warm with your clean handy-dandy finger-thermometer.  Think about it;  110°F, the recommended temp, is just 11 degrees over body temp. And remember: if it gets too hot it won't set.
4. Add the sugar and Junket and stir thoroughly, until the sugar is dissolved.

5. Pour the milk mixture into individual ramekins or whatever you want to serve it in.
6. Grate fresh nutmeg on the top. Done.
7. Walk away for 15 minutes.  Rennet needs some time to do it's magic.
8. When you come back it should be set.  Jiggle it a little to see, and what you should see is slight movement,  but definitely not liquid.    If it's still liquid, your milk was too hot. Try again.
9. When you're sure it's set, put it in the fridge until it's good and cold.
10.  Get ready for questions, unless you're going to eat it all by yourself.

Junket tablets (the kind I used here) were in all the grocery stores back even 20 years ago, and some still carry it, you just have to search.  It is usually on the top shelf of the Jello/Pudding/Tapioca section.
Please let me know if you've ever done anything different (recipe wise) with these tablets.  I'd love to hear about it.


Unknown said...

love junket my grandmother always made it for us as children saw a box in the store yesterday bought it and there were no directions thanks for yours it is setting right now

Anonymous said...

I grew up on Junket too! Love the vanilla kind.. tried to make it the other night, must have been too hot cause it didn't set. Thanks for clearer directions, going to have to try again.

Jan said...

Good luck! Thanks for commenting.