I’ve been cooking professionally for more than 13 years. I have a lot of desserts up my sleeve.
Some are very good,
others are very beautiful,
some are comforting,
and some…….SOME make you go .. hummmmmmmm.
You know what I mean.
Someone takes a bite of food and all you hear is …….
Hummmm…………, as their eyes drift closed and they lean back in their chair, unconsciously shifting in their seat, trying to make room in their belly for more.
In England they call dessert pudding. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cheesecake, a mousse or a pie……it’s a pudding. I don’t get it but I’ve become accustomed to my adopted culture (ironic considering I live in France).
So this is a recipe for Brandy pudding, although by American standards it’s not at all a pudding but a warm, delicious, sinful bowl full of comfort drizzled with cream. At a Boxing Day (the 26th of December) bash this year I made this dessert and mistakingly announced at the buffet that it was an “adult” dessert because of it’s booziness. Then I watched an 11-year-old boy come back not only for seconds but for thirds! My mistake. I guess everyone loves it.
But before I blissfully dive head-first into this recipe you should know…..
I try to run my kitchen and my family by the healthiest standards to which I find sustainable in our hectic lives. Minimally processed foods, low sugar, low dairy, low meat with an emphasis on vegetables and whole grains. BUT – I really do hate extremism (as I have mentioned before). Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed and I do sincerely believe that eating as clean and as healthy as we can will help us to enjoy life more fully and for longer than if we succumb to a modern diet of processed junk and convenience food. Having said that, there are some gorgeous home-made indulgences that we should all be allowed to enjoy every now and then.
So, before I go on about this GORGEOUS dessert my disclaimer is:
I believe that the “every now and then” time frame – or lack there of – has become the problem of modern times. I was recently chatting with a friend who is less health-conscious than I and when I began to discuss the health problems attributed to a high-sugar diet she rebutted that she, a Central American, and the generations ahead of her grew up on very sweet Caribbean cakes traditional to the area and that everyone in her family has lived long lives. I asked her who made the cakes and sweets they were so spoiled with and without a beat she said “grandmothers, mothers….. the women in the family.” BINGO.
Once upon a time we had sweets on special occasions or, at the very least, when mum or grandmum had time to make something delectable. Nowadays children have more sugar at breakfast (store-bought cereal) than their great-garndparents had with their “every now and then” home-made dessert. Then there are the processed breads and meats at lunch, the sticky sweet machine-made processed snacks and cakes and some variety of puffed, fried or preserved potato product that we have come to accept as normal. And that is only lunch. Snack time is yet to come.
BUT – if you feed your family REAL, healthy food year long why not spoil the children with some delicious home-made brownies on the weekend or yourself with some sinfully good brandy pudding at Christmas??? I don’t believe that refined sugar should have a place in your daily diet but I also don’t believe that I should have to serve my family a dessert made of dates, dried coconut and almond butter for Christmas. Everything in Moderation……
If we are good year round (or Monday-Friday) we deserve to be a bit naughty…..
And this is naughty……..
- 8 oz (225g) pitted dates
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ pint (236ml or 1 cup) boiling water
- 4 oz.(113g or 1 stick) butter, softened
- 8 oz (225g or 1 cup) soft light brown sugar
- 2 medium-large eggs
- 5 oz (142g or 1 cup) self-rising flour
- 4 oz (113g) chopped walnuts
- 4 oz (113g) maraschino cherries (preserved, sweetened baking cherries)
For the Soaking Sauce:
- 8 oz (225g or 1 cup) soft light brown sugar
- 4 oz (118 ml or ¼ cup) Brandy
- 4 oz (118 ml or ¼ cup) water
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- Place the dates in a medium sized bowl and sprinkle over the baking soda. Pour the boiling water over the top of the dates and soda and set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar in a stand alone mixer or using electric beaters. Whisk the 2 eggs up in a separate bowl and gradually add the eggs to the sugar mixture while whisking.
- Add the nuts, cherries and flour and mix to combine.
- Add the date and water mixture and mix to combine well.
- Grease a rectangular pyrex baking dish and pour the batter into the pan.
- Bake in the oven on the center rack 35-40 minutes (probably less if you have a convection oven) until the pudding has set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and set aside while you make the soaking liquid.
- In a small saucepan combine the sugar, brandy and water and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Immediately pour over the baked pudding while it is still warm and leave until it has cooled.
- Before serving reheat the pudding in the oven for about 15 minutes until it is warm through.
- At the table serve the pudding with a jug of heavy cream (double cream) to pour over the top of each warm serving.