Dishes up some su­per sweet mem­o­ries

Clas­sic pud­dings come with a big help­ing of nos­tal­gia – all the more rea­son, writes Matt Pre­ston, to up­date them for a com­fort­ing win­ter of con­tent.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS - Matt Pre­ston:

THERE’S some­thing about win­ter that brings out the nos­tal­gia in me. Partly, it’s those rose-toned child­hood mem­o­ries of bowls of sweet steamy good­ness. Rice pud­dings splotched with rasp­berry jam like the vic­tim of a mafia drive-by, golden syrup dumplings steaming and dan­ger­ously hot, and all man­ner of crum­bles, the sur­prise un­der the but­tery crust de­pen­dent on what was in the fruit bowl or the gar­den that morn­ing. With a crum­ble came cus­tard, ice-cream or cream – or on a good day in that time of plenty and naïveté all three.

At school, trays were filled with sticky date pud­dings wal­low­ing in caramel sauce, or with self-sauci­ness, whether it be choco­late, lemon or lime.

So while win­ter for me is a time of wist­ful­ness for those times past, we can de­rive cheer from those lessons in com­fort by turn­ing them into some­thing new for now.

RICE PUD­DING

Give clas­sic rice pud­ding an In­dian spin in the man­ner of kheer and add roasted cashews and tea-plumped sul­tanas, or saf­fron and pis­ta­chios, or rose­wa­ter, straw­berry jam and rose petals.

SELF-SAUCING PUD­DING 3.1

Make choco­late self-saucing pud­ding all the more fudgy by press­ing pieces of Toblerone or Snick­ers into the sponge for the last 20 min­utes of cook­ing. Or freshen it up Belle Hélène-style with a layer of well-drained tinned or poached pears on the base of the bak­ing dish.

SELF-SAUCING PUD­DING 3.2

I’ve talked be­fore about adding salt flakes to your favourite self-saucing choco­late pud­ding, but how about step­ping it by dump­ing the choco­late for a salty caramel self-saucing pud­ding? Beat an egg into 125ml of milk, 100g of browned but­ter and 60ml of warmed golden syrup.Add 60g brown sugar, 190g flour and a pinch of salt and mix to form a bat­ter. Pour the bat­ter into a heav­ily but­tered bak­ing dish, sprin­kle it with 100g of brown sugar and 1 tbsp of corn­flour, care­fully pour 375ml of boil­ing wa­ter over the top and bake it at 180°C for 40 min­utes or un­til golden and set on the top but still a lit­tle sloshy un­der­neath. Sprin­kle it with salt flakes and serve it with ice-cream.

CHOCO­LATE FOR WIN­TER

I don’t want to sound like a wanker (“What, again?” you cho­rus), but there’s some­thing wel­com­ing about dark choco­late in win­ter. I’d even go so far as to ar­gue it’s a win­ter choco­late – it goes with open fires and red wine af­ter all. What­ever, now is the per­fect time to fill a tart shell with a choco­late cus­tard and top it with slices of pear poached in mus­cat and vanilla for a show-stop­ping baked tart. Even bet­ter if you make your own pas­try case with hazel­nut meal, co­coa, but­ter and egg.

NIGELLA IT

Stick­ing with the dark-choco­late vibe, can I point you in the di­rec­tion of the recipe that in­spired me to join this fine mag­a­zine 15 years ago? It was Nigella’s choco­late pots, which have all the joy of a sum­mer’s choco­late mousse but are in fact gen­tly baked. Visit de­li­cious.com.au for choco­late pot recipes spiked with ev­ery­thing from brandy to Bai­leys or, in Matt Wilkinson’s Pope Joan recipe, a nip of vodka. (Sadly, the restau­rant has closed its doors to make way for an apart­ment block be­cause what Mel­bourne needs is more apart­ment mono­liths.)

WINTERFY IT

Switch the sea­son on pavlova by load­ing the whipped yo­ghurt and cream with or­ange seg­ments (pat­ted dry), shards of pis­ta­chio brit­tle (or shaved bought pis­ta­chio nougat) and fin­ish it with a driz­zle of melted dark choco­late. Pome­gran­ate gems would also be a nice touch. Or add co­coa, or­ange zest, ground car­damom or or­ange-blos­som wa­ter to the meringue. Or make like Jamie and turn yo’ tri­fle or cheese­cake into a win­ter ver­sion with choco­late mousse, marsh­mal­lows, brown­ies and peanut caramel, or with rum and prunes.

MI­CROWAVE IT

The mug cake was the re­birth of the mi­crowave pud­ding, the best of which is the 80-sec­ond pas­sion­fruit num­ber taught to me by Ice­bergs chef Monty Kolu­drovic in a rare mo­ment of low-brow weak­ness. Th­ese pud­dings do best as solo serves – you’ll find the recipe on de­li­cious.com.au – but I’m close to per­fect­ing a fam­ily-sized mi­crowaved mar­malade pud­ding for my next book that only takes min­utes and has all the joy of the steamed va­ri­ety. This – my com­fort dessert of the mo­ment – will be my legacy.

LEAVE IT ALONE

The won­der of bread and but­ter pud­ding is how stiff slices of stale bread turn into some­thing so spec­tac­u­larly deca­dent and satiny.And all with no more than bak­ing the but­tered bread with eggs, cream and sugar. I’ve tried spread­ing the bread and but­ter with jam, load­ing the pud­ding with choco­late chips or berries, and spik­ing the cus­tard with ev­ery­thing from booze to lemon zest and cin­na­mon. Yet noth­ing beats the orig­i­nal with no more than a swag of sul­tanas.

For Matt’s 80-sec­ond sponge and myr­iad more clas­sic pud­dings head to de­li­cious.com.au.

Matt’s 80-sec­ond sponge cake. See the recipe on de­li­cious.com.au.

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