Thanks to the Portuguese
Brought to India, and Goa specifically, serradura or sawdust pudding was introduced by the Portuguese, who made this simple dessert popular wherever they landed. Serradura is the word for sawdust in Portuguese; thus, this dessert is often called sawdust pudding. Made with three essential ingredients, and four if you want to add vanilla, this easy, make-ahead dessert is perfect for those with a sweet tooth. The three elements are plain, not too sweet cookies or biscuits (depending on where you are from), sweetened condensed milk, and cream.
At my local Indian grocery, I found the Britannia brand Marie biscuits made in India. More familiar to the Portuguese is the Cuétara Bolacha Maria biscuits. There are many brands of this cookie, alternatively called Marie or Maria, and they available in some 40 countries around the world. Any tea or digestive biscuit that isn’t too sweet and rich will work. I haven’t tried it, but I am pretty sure graham crackers or vanilla wafers would be yummy too.
Besides its simplicity, sawdust pudding is a no-bake, no-cook recipe that is the perfect ending to a summer meal when you don’t want to heat the kitchen. Layer it in little jars or small glasses, or even wine glasses would be pretty. Two tips: make sure the cookie crumb layer isn’t thicker than 1/4 of an inch, or your dessert will be dry. And it is a rich dessert so, if using individual jars or glasses, make sure they aren’t too big. You can also make a bigger dessert. This recipe serves four, so you could use a serving dish that holds 4 cups.
Allow for chilling time
Control the sweetness of this dessert by the amount of sweetened condensed milk you use. I prefer my puddings to be not too sweet, so I add just a 1/4 of a cup. If you want a sweeter version, add up to 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk. Use a piping bag or a plastic bag with one corner cut off to help layer the cream. And while assembling the pudding shoot for 5 to 7 layers beginning and ending with the cream layer. Refrigerate for 4 hours up to two days. Remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.
This dessert has been a fair game for all sorts of customization. Especially popular flavorings are green tea, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, and Oreos. Nuts are often added to the cookie base, cashews being the most frequent favorite. Happily, this is another one of those recipes that call for your creativity, or not, depending on your mood. Serradura is much more than the sum of its few parts, rich and creamy, with a cake layer from the softened biscuits. I hope you will give it a go!
P.S. If you like cream make-ahead desserts, try my chai pudding.
See the Notes below before you cook.
Easy Serradura (Sawdust Pudding)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk ~ Add more if you want a sweeter dessert
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 16 Marie biscuits ~ See notes below for substitutes
- ground cinnamon ~ For sprinkling over the top
- sliced almonds ~ Toasted
- coconut ~ Toasted
- passion fruit pulp
- 1/2 cup jam ~ Layered over the pudding
- chocolate shavings
- crushed cookies
- sliced strawberries
- Gather your ingredients.
- In a food processor, grind the cookies into fine crumbs.
- Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the cream to medium-stiff peaks. Add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Whip together for 2 to 3 minutes.
- You can spoon the whipped cream into your serving glasses or jar. Or use an icing bag or ziplock bag to pipe the cream in layers.
- Beginning and ending with a cream layer, create 7 layers, alternating whipped cream and the biscuit crumbs.
- Garnish as you wish and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours up to 2 days.
- Any tea or digestive biscuit that isn’t too sweet and rich will work.
- If you need a gluten-free dessert, use gluten-free biscuits or cookies.
- Instead of using all biscuit crumbs, you can replace 4 of the biscuits with 1/2 cup toasted cashews. Add to the biscuits when processing to crumbs.