Today’s dessert recipe comes with a little story. It’s a story of how I lost to a flavor pop quiz. I take pride (slightly) in my sense of taste especially when it comes to spices. And more so, if it something that isn’t the norm. Like papaya to tenderize meat. Or a teeny cube of jaggery in Sambhar. It has been carefully honed over the years and it often surprises people when I confirm whether certain ingredients have been added to a recipe. And then a little while ago, I got it wrong. Horribly. Horribly because my guess was no where close to the answer. In fact, it was something I had never tasted before!
If you haven’t read about my stay in Sir Bani Yas yet, you wouldn’t know when I first tasted Malva Pudding. We had just finished dinner (I tried venison! (and loved it)) at Savannah Grill & Lounge and I’m not one to skip dessert. No matter how full my tummy is. It was dark and breezy and I wrapped my Pashmina around me a little tighter while I walked over to the dessert table. Now when I think about what else was on that table, I really can’t remember. I guess there were the usual petit fours and berry tartlets? What I do remember is that there were no name cards on the dessert table. So when I say sauntered around the table, the pudding made me stop. Dark, sticky and unassuming. And it looked like not too many diners had served themselves from it. I cut a little bite for myself and walked back to the table.
I took a spoon, mindlessly, while chatting to my husband and son. And I put my spoon back down. The flavor that settled stirred euphoria and quite possibly, I might have looked like I was hyper ventilating. This dessert was my Ratatouille moment. Where have I tasted this before? Why does it taste like coconut milk? Or is it molten jaggery? Or is it jaggery left to caramelize in coconut milk? Wow, is that butter? No, that’s probably the jaggery. It was probably a minute and I was left grappling for answers. You might think I am exaggerating but I was at a loss for words.
I spotted one of the chefs circling amongst the tables talking to his guests. I tried to get his attention gesticulating in a manner you would probably use to flag down a taxi. Obviously, my husband has learnt by now that when I’ve reached this level of intrigue, I am pretty much oblivious to my surroundings. I watched his part alarm/part amused (part embarrassed maybe) expression while the chef walked up to our table. He didn’t quite have an amused expression when I bombarded him with questions. “That is jaggery I’m tasting right? Mawa Pudding? Oh, Malva. Oh, and it is South African. And there’s no jaggery? What, no coconut milk?” I distinctly remember the heaviness with which my disappointment of an incorrect answer settled. I am unreasonably competitive and a terrible loser. But I had lost to a flavor that was new to me.
It was Apricot Jam.
It's interesting how I haven't noticed it in the Jam aisle before. And I spend quite some thinking what to pick when I've run out of spare jars in my pantry. It's always Bonne Maman Four Fruits Preserve, if you were wondering. Forget considering Apricot Jam, I haven't even noticed it when I thought I was scouring through what was on offer. Mind you, the quantity of Jam used in the recipe is easy to miss. Luckily, they have the single serving sized jars which are apt for this recipe. A good thing too because should it have been the regular sized bottle. I’d probably just keep baking Malva Pudding till it runs empty. Not a good plan for your hips given the sauce it requires.
Equal parts cream and butter in addition to almost equal parts of sugar and boiling water. And Vanilla. All of this is combined together, kept warm and poured all over the pudding as soon as it comes out of the oven. Take my word on this. Use your best Vanilla for the sauce. You know, the whole beans you have stashed away, waiting for the right recipe to come along. Or the essence which bear the coveted bean flecks. Or the Nielsen Massey that made its way back in your suitcase from the UK holiday. You see what I’m getting at right? Scrape those pods, scoop or pour your precious Vanilla sources into this sauce. It makes a world of a difference and it elevates the decadence of the pudding.
If you read through the ingredients of the pudding sponge, there’s nothing out of the ordinary. Except for those few teaspoons of Apricot Jam. It has very little butter and is light to touch. The richness lies entirely in the Vanilla sauce. Since the sauce needs to be poured directly over the pudding when it is taken out, bake your pudding in an oven proof ceramic dish that doubles up as serve ware. Do take a look after the 20 minute mark because it does have a tendency to brown quite a bit. And mind you, once the pudding soaks in the sauce, it does get a bit sticky so you might not end up with clean slices while serving.
And that’s the story of how I first ate Malva Pudding. The last time I made this was when we had family over for tea. They stayed on for a while longer and we decided to start a BBQ that evening. No guesses what dessert was. If I did have time, I might have warmed it up a little bit. Nevertheless, we all tucked in to the pudding and, on request, just left enough for my guests to take back with them. It’s just the dessert to bake on a cool day before the Dubai winter plays truant. It pairs well with ice cream or if you’re feeling more indulgent than usual, with warm custard.
I like mine alongside a cup of tea.
Gossip optional ;)
Recipe from "A Table at the Cape" by Helmine Myburgh
- Butter - 1½ Tablespoons
- Caster Sugar - 1 cup
- Eggs - 2 Large
- Apricot Jam - 2½ teaspoons
- Baking Soda - 1 teaspoon
- Milk - ½ cup
- Vinegar - 1 teaspoon
- Cake flour - 1 cup, sifted
- Pinch of salt
- Heavy cream - 1 cup
- Sugar - ¾ cup
- Butter - 1 cup
- Boiling water - ½ cup
- Vanilla essence - 1 teaspoon OR 1 scraped Vanilla Pod
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Grease a medium sized ceramic ovenproof dish.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and caster sugar till light and creamy.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.
- Add the apricot jam and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, add the salt to the sifted flour.
- In a third bowl, stir the baking soda into the milk.
- Add the vinegar to the milk.
- Alternate between adding the milk/baking soda/vinegar mixture and the sifted flour/salt mixture into the creamed butter and sugar, mixing just enough till everything is incorporated.
- Pour the batter into a thoroughly greased baking dish and bake for 45 mins or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- The pudding gets dark on top very easily, so keep an eye on it while baking and cover it with foil for the last 20 mins if necessary.
- When the pudding is almost done baking, mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan on the stovetop.
- Bring to a boil, remove from the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm. Be careful of the sauce boiling over unto the stove.
- When the pudding is done, remove from the oven and pour the sauce all over it.
- Leave to stand for 15-30 mins before serving.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream, custard, whipped cream or by itself.
Have a good food day.