My childhood favourites for dessert lovers
SWEET TREATS A great steamed pudding should be fluffy and light, says Angela Hartnett, who this week shares her tips for top-notch trifle and perfect profiteroles, too
Idon’t have the sweetest tooth, but I love old-fashioned desserts like Eve’s pudding or Queen of Puddings. My mum is a great pudding maker: I grew up with her home-made apple pie and mince pies made with shortcrust pastry, not sweet pastry. And my grandmother used to serve zabaglione, which is a classic Italian dessert of eggs, sugar and a dash of alcohol whipped together.
A great steamed pudding served with warm custard is evocative of cosying up in the colder months. I’ve shared a recipe for my favourite, made with golden syrup and black treacle, overleaf. People always think of puddings as stodgy, but for me, they should be light and fluffy. Steam your treacle pudding in a steamer if you’ve got one, with the steamer pan on top of the water. And if you haven’t got a steamer, use ramekins. Make sure there’s constant steam, as you don’t want it to dry out.
You can’t just make a pudding sweet and rich and hope for the best. One of my constant refrains when I do a dessert tasting with my staff is: less sugar, less sugar. In certain desserts you need the sugar for balance and as a setting agent, but not in the same way as gelatin or agar. You can always take a little bit away: when following recipes, I tend to cut it down by 10 to 20 grams, just in case.
The poached pear and ricotta recipe here was passed on to me by Luke Holder (the chef at Hartnett Holder & Co at Lime Wood in the New Forest). It’s simple, but delicious, with a slight savouriness and acidity from the cheese. It can be adapted with seasonal fruits, and sprinkled with almonds or nuts. A classic Italian alternative is to poach the pears in red wine and serve with gorgonzola.
Profiteroles are another childhood favourite, and the trick is to make sure they’re not too soggy. You don’t want them crispy (it’s not toast) and there should be a slight softness, but you need some texture, especially if you’re pairing them with hot chocolate sauce and ice cream. If you can get hold of it, Pump Street Chocolate in Orford, Suffolk, make a brilliant Jamaican chocolate with honeyed rum. They source their cocoa beans ethically and, as well as chocolate bars, they do phenomenal cooking chocolate.
I grew up with homemade apple pie and zabaglione, a classic Italian dessert