It’s National Dessert Day (yes, that’s a thing) so let our writers recommend the best thing to put in your mouth to celebrate.
I don’t know who it was who first introduced me to banoffee pie but I hope it was my husband because, by rights, I should marry them. Always been a big banana fan: it’s my milkshake flavour of choice; I learned how to make cakes so I didn’t have to bin the dead ones; no pick ‘n’ mix is complete without foam ones.
So, when someone adds biscuits, toffee, cream and me, don’t expect conversation or to even see my pupils, as they will have rolled into the back of my head like some sort of banoffee orgasm. A banorgasm.
On holiday in Brighton one time, we visited the place it was invented. You know, like people go to museums and that. It was a restaurant called The Hungry Monk in Jevington which is sadly now closed (it was invented in 1972, there’s even a blue plaque). And it was one of the nicest things I’ve ever had in my mouth.
The neurotransmitter dopamine is associated with reward (among other things) and rats who are able to self-administer dopamine to their nucleus accumbens when they press a lever, essentially never ever stop pressing that lever.
I was recently at a buffet where there was a big bowl of Eton mess for pudding and after everyone had had a portion we could help ourselves to ‘seconds’. To extend my metaphor to creaking point, I was the rat: the nucleus accumbens was my stomach and the dopamine was Eton mess.
I found myself self-administering Eton mess until there wasn’t any left, and I got on a train and fell asleep. It’s just meringue, whipped cream and squished fruit, and it looks like a mess. Perfect, but I’d advise you not to self-administer.
Yoghurt. For pudding? Sorry, but yoghurt is the nicotine patch or even the placebo of the pudding world. It shouldn’t be allowed. If you’re going to have pudding, have Pudding with a capital P.
My vote goes to cranachan, an almost literally unbelievable dessert. If I use the words ‘traditional Scottish’ you’ll have more of an idea of what to expect. It puts Eton mess into its light, namby pamby, fluffy public-school place. Here are the basic ingredients. Read ‘em and weep.
• Double cream – you bring me a healthy alternative, I bring you THE NOISE.
• Oats – barely even a foodstuff, more a substance with which a mythical creature might stuff its dead offspring.
• Raspberries – the bitterest, most hardcore of all fruit.
• Honey – nature’s sweetest, thickest weapon.
• Whisky. You heard, whisky.
That’s it. Cranachan. The sexy thug of the pudding world. I rest my case.
If asked, I say my favourite pudding is Malvern pudding and then wait for the inevitable “What is that?” I wondered if it was another one of those weird family things, like saying “six and two threes” instead of “six of one and half a dozen of the other”, or calling a powdery apple or tomato “beethy”. My family clearly looks for economy of speech. So I did some searching on the internet. Beethy isn’t a word, though it should be, but Malvern pudding definitely exists.
When we were small, my mum deemed the foods she didn’t like “unhealthy”. So, no ice-cream (until she discovered the classy Viennetta, which no 1980s dinner party was complete without), no Tizer, no sugary cereal. The foods she did like were “healthy” – so lots of lemonade, liquorice sticks and Malvern pudding.
It may be that the reason I love it quite so much is that it reminds me of home, and of family dinners. Or is it that it’s just so tasty? What’s not to love? Stewed apple and lemon zest, covered with egg custard, flavoured with cinnamon and demerara sugar, then grilled for a caramelised topping. It’s comfort food at its finest.
It’s a Georgian dessert that not many people know about – apparently UKTV Food listed it as one of the 10 “most threatened puddings”. Who would threaten this pudding? The quivering of its custardy top would stop even the most dastardly villain in their tracks.
This is the closest recipe I can find to my mum’s. Try it; I simply can’t imagine how you could be disappointed.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
I don’t like pudding much. There. I knew you’d be shocked. A big fat lass who doesn’t like pudding is a conundrum. It’s easily explained once you realise I’d rather have an extra helping of potatoes – and often do – instead of pudding.
But I’m prepared to make an exception for sticky toffee pudding. It’s the grown-up, post-modern version of steamed ginger sponge – only without the ginger – and I believe it’s baked instead of steamed. To be honest, I don’t know how it’s made and I don’t really want to, because if I could make it at home I might never eat anything else and that could end badly.
It’s impossible to describe sticky toffee pudding without sounding like Gregg Wallace romping through a list of delicious adjectives: a deep, rich, dark, lush sponge enveloped in a warm salty-sweet sticky sauce. All that’s left is to choose between custard, cream or ice cream – purists say custard, I prefer cream – and to let out a Wallace-esque ‘whoooar’ of delight.
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