I wanted a pudding. I wanted something sharp rather than sweet – but then other people become involved and they want sweet over sharp, and so it goes on. There is a balance to be struck and it’s with a lovely tarte au citron. My local farmers shop has some wonderfully large, ripe and juicy lemons that were crying out for use and so they came to the rescue. Here it is, a tart for the close of summer; one to use before the darker night and heavier puddings of autumn arrive.
So it’s a cake, soaked in whole milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk – topped with cream. Really? This sweet, moist wonderfulness of a creation can only make you feel that God exists and bakes. I first tried this in the US, but it has a long story in its history (more about that below), a bit convoluted and not entirely clear. What is undoubtedly true, once you have made this your friends will always, but always want more.
So here is the thing; you are making dinner for Eurovision fanatics and for each course there must be some link with the competition, but what? Well, this year it was held in Sweden so what better than a dessert of Swedish Apple Cake. This really does give American Apple Pie a run for its money, and while I am sure there are as many versions of this in Sweden as there are kitchens, this is the one I love and it is tried and tested.
Served warm or at room temperature with a light drizzle of cream or custard, and it can be made in advance and brought out when needed. You can save the left overs for teatime the next day, if it lasts that long – a pudding that goes on giving. Serves 6-8.
We had nine people joining us for Sunday lunch, so three courses is always a challenge. The best way to avoid a kitchen train wreck is to make the pudding far enough in advance that you only need take it from the fridge or freezer. Admittedly this particular recipe does take a bit of work, but it is worth it. A peanut butter parfait that melts in the mouth and is one pudding that gets people asking for seconds. Creamy-rich, but light in texture, you could add some biscuits for a hard edge to the softness. Now for a couple of tips: it can be made two weeks ahead, and if you don’t want to make your own cherry compote buy some in a liqueur, strain and use those. Lovely.
Despite what people say, this is not the downfall of Masterchef contestants. The problem there is that they don’t know their oven, the way its temperature fluctuates; and so they can’t judge whether the fondant, the dark chocolate centre, is oozing as it should. So the secret to these, know your oven, try them out before you use them for the important guests. I have given the general temperature, but in my oven they are in for 9 to 11 minutes. This really is a great desert, everyone loves them. The added beauty about these is that they can be made in advance, put in the fridge with just an extra minute or two cooking time if you are baking them cold and straight from the fridge. Add a spoon of vanilla ice cream and chocolate delight awaits.
Admittedly, we are having this with our Christmas lunch because I am not a fan of Christmas Pudding, and because I think that something light and alternative is called for. Of course you can have this at any time, but the good thing about it is that it can be made well in advance – and in this recipe it needs to sit in the fridge for twenty-four hours so I tend to make it when making the aromatic spiced ham. The warm, rich figs with the caramel flavours of the Marsala compliment the fig and silky mascapone cream. I love it.
This is a really easy bread and butter pudding recipe. There is no long drawn out custard making, the mixed eggs and milk are simply poured over the bread, allowed to soak and then baked. It really is that simple. For this one I have buttered the bread with marmalade, but you don’t have to you can leave it plain and avoid the marmalade altogether, or you can simply substitute with chocolate and use a sweet brioche. This is a treat on one of those cold but bright autumn days, which is when we had it recently. Some whipped double cream on top adds to the luxury.
Let’s talk cheesecake. Or to put it another way: let’s just start an argument. Firstly, people argue from where it originates, and then you get into the argument of toppings (cream, raspberries, blueberries, plain with cream on the side) the list is endless. But that is the beauty, the sheer versitility of this wonderful desert. Dense in the winter, creamier in the summer, the choice is yours. It is an all year round food. How good is that?
Trust me, I’m not searching the world for recipes that are a heart attack on a plate, but sometimes things are just too good not to try. Brownies (more about their history below) are one of those wonderful food creations that can be eaten at almost anytime. Great for tea-time, on picnics and even as a dessert after good meal (just add a spoon of ice cream). This one has extra chocolate chunks running through it – I used mostly dark chocolate but the choice is yours. I have a recipe for a brownie cake, squidgy on top with wonderful chocolate goo on the base. When I’ve tried it I will share it. Well, maybe.
I love blueberries, especially in muffins. Maybe I just love muffins more, I don’t know. Anyway, the combination of the cake-like texture and sweet pop of blueberries is irresistible. Better than that, they only take twenty-five minutes or so from batter to breadbasket. One final word of warning, they are not shop made, they do not look shop made, and most important of all they don’t taste shop made. Continue reading →