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Proof in the puds

AS we get closer to Christmas, it is time to bring out the puddings. And by puddings I don't mean black or white pudding, I mean the dessert kind.

Here are three of my favourite recipes that I like to make around this time of year. The lemon puddings are very light and airy, so are excellent after a heavy meal.

Sticky date pudding with vanilla caramel sauce

Serves 6


115g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing tin

125g self-raising flour, plus extra for tin

10 dates, pitted

250g dark brown sugar

1 egg

2 pinches of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional: Serve with ice-cream


Preheat oven to 350°F/165°C. Butter and flour an 8-inch by 2-inch round cake tin.

Simmer dates in water for about 5 minutes to soften. Set aside. Remove from water and roughly chop.

Beat half the butter and 50g of the brown sugar together in a mixer until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

Beat in egg until well combined. Gradually add the flour and a pinch of salt until almost mixed.

Add in dates and mix until well combined.

Pour batter into pan and bake until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. This should take about 25-30 minutes.

In another saucepan, melt the rest of the butter over a moderate heat and stir in the rest of the sugar, 70ml water, a pinch of salt and vanilla extract.

>Bring to the boil slowly until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce has reduced by half. This will take about 6-8 minutes.

Remove pudding from pan, cut and serve on a plate with sauce and ice-cream.

Milk chocolate pudding

Serves 6


3 tbsp sugar

2 1/2 tbsp cornflour

3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

300ml milk

120ml double cream

150g good quality milk chocolate

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Optional: Serve with whipped cream


Mix together sugar, cornflour, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan.

Gradually whisk in milk and cream.

Bring to the boil over a medium heat, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes. The mixture should be thick.

Remove from heat, whisk in chocolate and vanilla until you have reached a smooth consistency.

Transfer to separate bowls and chill the puddings. I like to serve mine in jam jars for an old-fashioned look.

Top with cream and chocolate shavings.

Lemon puddings

Serves 4


55g unsalted butter, softened

115g granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 lemon, zested and juiced

3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

60ml milk


Preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest together on a medium speed until fluffy.

Beat in the lemon juice and the egg yolks until the batter is light and thick (about a minute and a half).

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, then the milk.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with an electric hand mixer until soft peaks form.

Place four 6oz ramekins in a baking pan. Fill the pan with hot water until it reaches half way up the sides of the pan.

Divide the batter between the ramekins. Place the baking pan in the oven.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, just until the puddings are puffing up and beginning to crack on top.

Carefully move the puddings to a wire rack to cool.

Place in the fridge for curd to set.

Serve with whipped cream or crème fraîche.