Not a raisin in sight
DESSERTS:If you would like to offer an alternative to the traditional Christmas pudding, make a crowd-pleasing sticky toffee pudding, or an elegant Charlotte Russe, writes EUNICE POWER
STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING
Luscious date pudding soaked in a puddle of warm toffee sauce.
200g dried dates, stones removed
A large mug of tea
1 tsp bread soda
175g self-raising flour
A good pinch of mixed spice
75g of walnuts, roughly chopped
2 large eggs
85g soft butter
140g Demerara sugar
2 tbsp treacle
175g Muscovado sugar
A pinch of cinnamon
1 tbsp treacle
Preheat an oven to 170 degrees/gas 7. Butter a 20cm (8in) round tin and dust lightly with flour.
Simmer the dates with bread soda and tea until they become soft and mushy – about 15-20 minutes.
Using a food mixer or electric hand mixer, mix the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the eggs and treacle. Turn the mixer down low and add the flour and mixed spice, then add the walnuts and dates and stir in the milk.
Once the mixture is combined, pour into the prepared tin. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes; the cake is cooked when a skewer inserted in it comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before turning out.
While the cake is cooking, make the sauce. Melt the butter with the cinnamon in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the sugar and treacle and the cream. Bring to the boil and simmer, stirring constantly for two or three minutes until the sauce is caramel in colour.
This can be made a day or two in advance, and it freezes beautifully. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
CHARLOTTE RUSSE WITH ROAST PLUMS AND PEARS
I was inspired to make this retro pudding having been reminded of it while watching Downton Abbey on TV. It is a little like a deconstructed trifle.
My son loves it so much he encourages me to “practice” making it every few weeks.
half tsp cinnamon
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 dessertspoon of freshly grated ginger
3 leaves of gelatine
2 eggs separated
1 pack boudoir biscuits (sponge fingers)
Roast plums and pears
1 fat vanilla pod, split
4 conference pears, peeled, quartered and cored
8 red plums, halved and stoned
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp apple juice
You will need a 7.5-inch Charlotte Russe mould or a deep seven or eight inch cake tin or bowl. I bought mine from Amazon.
First soak the gelatine in some warm water. Combine the milk, sugar, spices and fresh ginger in a saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then simmer for a minute or two. Strain through a sieve. Rinse the saucepan and return the liquid to the saucepan.
Add the two egg yolks and cook over a gentle heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it begins to thicken and coat the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat.
Strain the gelatine and add to the custard – stirring until the gelatine has dissolved. Transfer the custard to a large bowl and allow to cool.
Whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks and fold into the cooled custard. Whisk the egg whites to form soft peaks and fold into the custard.
Lightly grease the Russe mould and line with cling film, greasing the tin to allow the cling film to get a better grip. Then line the sides of the tin with the boudoir biscuits.
Pour the custard into the middle and allow to set for four to six hours.
Preheat an oven to 220 degrees/gas 7. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod. Place the pears and plums in a roasting tin. Mix the fruit with the sugar and apple juice. Roast for 15-20 minutes.
To serve, unmould the Charlotte Russe on to a serving plate and arrange the pears and plums around the base and on top.