Brioche Bread & Butter Pudding with Chocolate

It was my brother in law’s birthday a couple of months ago. Unfortunately for him, the day of his birth, September 11 is now far better known for other reasons, in fact he was 21 the day the planes struck the world trade centre so his special day became a bit of an irrelevance.

However, this year I cooked dinner for him and finished off the meal with a twist on traditional bread and butter pudding. I like how in this recipe there is a great partnership between the buttery brioches, creamy custard, bitter chocolate, sweet prunes and lifted by a far more adult slug of ameretto.

Apologies to my gluten, wheat and dairy intolerant followers (and daughter!) in advance for this recipe…

Serves: 8-10 portions (this is very rich, so small is better!)

Ingredients

1 good brioche loaf sliced or 4-6 small brioches sliced
1/2 a vanilla pod or best vanilla essence
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
350 ml of half fat milk
300 ml of single cream
120g of soft brown sugar
150g of best dark chocolate – 70% cocoa solids or better
Around 10 prunes
A good handful of pecans
A shot of ameretto liqueur
Sufficient butter to butter brioche slices
Sugar to sprinkle on top of pudding.

method

1. Put eggs in a bowl and mix with electric blender until slightly foamy and paler in co our.
2. Melt 100g of your chocolate in microwave with a tablespoonful or two of the milk. Do 15 second bursts and keep checking until just melted and combined with the milk.
3. Pour a little of chocolate in with eggs and combine with mixer. Then gradually add the rest whilst mixing constantly.
4. Put milk, cream, a few pecans crushed and the vanilla pod (or essence) in a large pan and bring really slowly to a simmer. Again, keep a good eye on it, as it starts to boil remove from the heat and let it cool somewhat.
5 Strain milk into egg/choc mixture and combine again with blender – if the milk is too hot and you don’t mix rapidly, then you will have a disaster!
6. Add your slug of ameretto. This is now your chocolate custard to use in pudding.
7. Chop remainder of chocolate, prunes and pecans into small chunks.
8. Butter brioche slices and place in a good size (20-25cm square?) baking dish. Between each layer of brioche, sprinkle in bits of the chocolate/prune/pecan mixture.
9. Once brioche is used or dish is full, pour in chocolate custard over the whole thing making sure the top layer of bread is well moistened with the custard mixture.
10. Sprinkle with sugar and leave for 30 mins or so (longer is fine) before baking.
11. Bake at 160c (fan oven) for 20-30 mins. The baking dish should be placed in a deep baking tray with some water in it to creat a Bain Marie whilst cooking.
12. Serve with some extra thick single cream.

Sticky Toffee Pudding With Brandy Caramel Sauce

The weather in Hampshire has taken a sudden cooler turn this week. My wife tells me one cannot pretend it is shorts weather here any longer and I must wear longer attire. It will reduce the puzzled looks from other shoppers on the plus side.

Anyway, as the shorter days and longer nights descend on the northern half of the world, seasonal fresh soft fruit for dessert begin to disappear from our menu.

Fear not, one of the absolute delights is the ability to justify the treat of an old fashioned English Pudding.

I have eaten this many times, but always thought it would be complicated and time consuming to reproduce an inferior imitation of what is served in restaurants – surely you need some specialized equipment or ingredient to make something so good. All you need is around an hour, a cold evening and a few hungry friends..

Serves 4

Ingredients

150g dates
200ml of Earl grey tea (English breakfast is ok too)
60g butter
90g caster sugar
2 small eggs
120g self raising flour (or 1 extra large)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp good vanilla essence
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp of horlicks or malted milk drink powder (don’t worry too much if you don’t have it)

Brandy caramel sauce

120g white sugar
40ml water
200ml double cream
40ml of brandy (or whiskey)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 165c
2. Soak dates in hot tea for at least 30 mins, overnight is fine.
3. Chop soaked dates finely
4. Oil a loaf tin well (it is called sticky for a reason…
5. Cream butter and sugar together until pale in colour. Add egg little by little, beating well between each addition to avoid curdling.
6. Fold in all remaining ingredients (not the sauce ones!) until just combined.
7. Place in loaf tin and bake for 40 mins or until inserted knife comes out clean.
8. Now for the sauce, put sugar and water in small pan and heat on a high heat.
9. Do not walk away from the pan and do not stir. Just watch it bubble until it begins to turn from golden to light brown. Remember do not stir AT ALL!
10. Once it goes from golden to light brown you have a window of around 10 seconds otherwise it will burn and you need to start again.
11. Take off heat and immediately add cream – it will froth right up and look really angry. be careful as it is hotter than hell! Once it begins to calm down you may stir this quite hard, but carefully.
12. The sauce is great at that point, try it if you like (carefully) as it is sensational.  The sauce is great just served with vanilla or chocolate ice cream.
13. Add brandy to sauce and stir well.
14. Pour a third sauce over pudding in loaf tin. Cut pudding into thick slices served with rest of sauce and a swirl of cold cream.
15. Undo your belt a little and enjoy the happy pudding induced bliss like state.