Golden raisins or dried cherries may be used instead of raisins. If available, you can use blackstrap molasses, a surprising source of iron, to add rich color and flavor. Coating both the dish and the plastic wrap with cooking spray helps you remove the pudding after it's cooked.
Cooking Light DECEMBER 2005
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly coat a 2 1/2-quart oven-safe bowl with cooking spray; line with plastic wrap. Lightly coat the surface of wrap with cooking spray. Set aside.
Spoon applesauce onto several layers of paper towels; spread to 1/2-inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand 5 minutes. Scrape into a small bowl using a rubber spatula.
Beat 3 tablespoons butter at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until fluffy. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture, 1 1/4 cups milk, and molasses to the butter, beating until blended. Stir in applesauce and raisins. Spoon mixture into prepared bowl; cover bowl with plastic wrap.
Place bowl in a deep roasting pan. Add hot water to pan until water is one-third way up the sides of bowl. Tightly cover bowl and pan with aluminum foil. Bake at 350° for 2 hours or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove bowl from roasting pan. Carefully invert bowl onto a serving plate; remove bowl. Remove and discard plastic wrap.
To prepare sauce, combine 3/4 cup sugar and next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until smooth. Cook, stirring frequently, 4 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in rind and vanilla. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.
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