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Desserts of The British Empire

roxlet May 18, 2009 01:35 PM

We are giving a dinner party on Saturday night -- the foods of the British Empire. It's a way to cook lots of different things that are all thematically related. In this case we'll be visiting Britain, India and Hong Kong for a four course dinner. I am trying to come up with a suitable dessert. At first I thought that I would do summer pudding, but it's too early for currants and although I know I can make it with raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, I'd rather do a really authentic one. It's still not off the table, but I would like to come up with some other ideas. I want the dessert to be plated individually, so I don't want to do anything, like a pie or cake, that has to be cut up to be served. I thought about individual sticky toffee puddings, but that seems way to wintery for Memorial Day weekend. Help!

  1. DallasDude Jan 30, 2010 03:27 PM

    My little Brit friend insists that spotted dick does not contain suet. I randomly checked recipes and see that 9 out of the 10 I looked at did indeed contain this bit of nastiness. The 10th had butter. Is this standard now, as she insists? Or is suet a staple ingredient for a proper pudding.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DallasDude
      Harters Jan 31, 2010 02:54 AM

      Friend's wrong IMO. Spotted Dick is a suet pudding. The doyenne of British cookery is Delia Smith. If St Delia says it uses suet, then it uses suet (as does my late mother's 1951 baking book). http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/ty...

      I'm sure you can make a dessert with butter - but then it isn't Spotted Dick. Presumably vegetarians might want to use veggie suet, but that isnt going to be Spotted Dick either.

    2. r
      Roland Parker May 22, 2009 11:08 PM

      If you really want something evocative of the British Empire, it has to involve custard. Custard is probably the #1 British sweet culinary import to the colonies, most of which feature some tye of custardy dessert as part of their national cuisine these days.

      1. roxlet May 22, 2009 06:55 AM

        Well, last night I made a pain de mie, so I suppose that means that I am going with an untraditional summer pudding made principally with raspberries and blackberries. I was not able to find any currants -- either fresh or frozen-- so perhaps I will mix in some blueberries and make it a New World Summer Pudding. Thank you to everyone for all the brilliant suggestions, and I take great comfort in the fact that I can make a lot of these suggestions all summer as well as having a quick back up in the event that something tragic happens and my puddings fail to release properly.

        30 Replies
        1. re: roxlet
          MMRuth May 22, 2009 06:59 AM

          I'm impressed that you made pain de mie? Is it difficult? It's one of my favorite breads, and is harder and harder to find.

          1. re: MMRuth
            roxlet May 22, 2009 08:49 AM

            It wasn't difficult took two tries. I followed a King Arthur recipe from the web site, and the first time I made it, I followed the directions to remove the top to the pan after 25 minutes in the oven. Disaster. The top crust wasn't done enough and the whole thing collapsed. Moreover, there seemed to have been too much dough, and about 15 minutes in, it was squirting out the ends of the pan. It was like making spritz cookies with bread dough. At this point I tasted it and it also was very salty. So for the second time, I reduced the salt by half, I took out a good handful of the dough before I put it in the pan, and I put the bread in the oven as soon as I put the lid on. The KA recipe had you continuing to let the dough rise once the lid was on. So, no disasters and it looks pretty perfect. I may yet be crying once I cut into it! I've had this pan de mie pan for about 20 years, and this was only the third time I've used it. Now, I'm about to make a sponge for some naan to go with the lamb vindaloo portion of the dinner. I've never made that, and I only hope I can get the ancestral cast iron griddle hot enough to make a credible version. I am also making Stilton scones to go with the asparagus soup, and I'm completely vamping on that. Wish me luck -- or even better, do you know of a recipe???!!!

            1. re: roxlet
              MMRuth May 22, 2009 09:21 AM

              I've made naan four or five times now - no sponge, and you make them in the oven. Do you have Mangoes & Curry Leaves - I use the recipe there. I bake them on a pizza stone.

              Stilton scones sound wonderful - how do you plan to incorporate the cheese?

              1. re: MMRuth
                MMRuth May 22, 2009 09:36 AM

                PS - If you do want the recipe for the naan - I'll type it up for you. As you probably know, it needs to be baked quite soon before you serve it.

                1. re: MMRuth
                  roxlet May 22, 2009 10:19 AM

                  Thank you for the naan recipe! That seems considerably easier than making a sponge, although I could do that ahead. Two questions -- that looks like it is a huge amount of dough, and I'm wondering if you've ever halved it (all the dishes are more like a tasting menu, so I pictured little naans), and if doesn't specify the type of yeast so am I correct in assuming that instant yeast is OK? When we have these big dinners, my husband likes to play chef and stay in the kitchen with a helper and I get to play hostess (works for me), so I will have to school him in cooking the naan, which he will do just before serving. All the things I do, I do ahead, and I am still working out my little bites with drinks. I got some of that good puff pastry from TJs and I am thinking of making something with that.

                  In terms of the Stilton scones, I have a recipe for cheese scones and I was planing on riffing on that. According to this recipe, the cheese is added after the butter is worked in and then the whole thing is combined with milk. I found this recipe after a trip to Scotland where we ate at a wonderful restaurant in Edinburgh called Martin's. They had delicious cheese scones which, in typical thrifty Scots fashion, they made with the left-over ends of cheese from their cheese board. I think I made them once (not with Stilton, though) for a Christmas dinner, and I remember them being quite delicious. I think that I will make them later today just to be on the safe side!

                  1. re: roxlet
                    MMRuth May 22, 2009 10:23 AM

                    I have both halved and quartered that recipe successfully. And yes, instant yeast. Sounds like you have things well planned out, so to speak.

                    I think your plan for the scones sounds good, including the making them today bit. I've only ever made scones w/ currants.

                    1. re: roxlet
                      MMRuth May 22, 2009 10:31 AM

                      Oh - and, do you have a peel? I've found that a well floured peel is the best way to get the naans into the oven.

                      1. re: MMRuth
                        roxlet May 22, 2009 11:22 AM

                        Weirdly, no, I don't have a peel, even though it was on my Xmas list a couple of years ago. I probably have just about everything else! I usually use a cookie sheet. Have you ever tried cooking them on a hot griddle?

                        1. re: roxlet
                          MMRuth May 22, 2009 11:43 AM

                          I've not tried a griddle. Another trick that has helped me in terms of the peel is to use pieces of parchment paper - that might be particularly useful w/ mini naan.

                          1. re: MMRuth
                            roxlet May 22, 2009 12:25 PM

                            I would think that for naan you'd want to get the oven cranked up pretty high -- maybe as high as it would go as for pizza. I think I'll try to finish the dough early in the day tomorrow and try a dry run with both methods. Thanks for all your help!

                          2. re: roxlet
                            Harters May 22, 2009 02:37 PM

                            What's a "peel", please?

                            I assume we Brits must call it something else, but it's just too common a word to get any sense from Google.

                            1. re: Harters
                              MMRuth May 22, 2009 02:52 PM

                              It's a tool that one uses to put bread/pizza into the oven:


                              1. re: MMRuth
                                Harters May 22, 2009 03:51 PM

                                Thanks. Actually I don't think I've seen that on sale here - looks like a home version of what you see pizza chefs using. I could certainly do with something like it - you should see me trying to get hot pizza out of the oven.

                                1. re: Harters
                                  MMRuth May 22, 2009 05:06 PM

                                  They are v. useful.

                                  1. re: Harters
                                    roxlet May 22, 2009 07:08 PM

                                    I would be very surprised if you weren't able to get a peel in Britain. Perhaps not in outlying areas, but certainly in London at a restaurant supply store and perhaps even by mail order! Professional ones are not so different except that the handle is usually longer and that could modified particularly if it is a metal peel with a wooden handle.

                                    1. re: roxlet
                                      Harters May 23, 2009 03:09 AM

                                      Yes. It's terrible living in the outlying areas. We are SO envious of the folk who live in London - with their mains water, electricity and so on.

                                      1. re: Harters
                                        roxlet May 23, 2009 04:59 AM

                                        Yes, I feel that way everytime I'm visiting friends in Chichester.

                                        1. re: roxlet
                                          Harters May 23, 2009 06:21 AM

                                          Nice city, Chichester. If ever I was forced to live in the south, I'd live in Sussex.

                                          Thanks for the mail order tip. Obviously not too common an item in the UK and there's nothing in the Lakeland catalogue. Howver, I've found a UK supplier who has one. I'd probably have to saw a bit off the handle - or keep mucking about with my large fish slice and a pair of tongues.

                                          1. re: Harters
                                            MMRuth May 23, 2009 11:22 AM

                                            I'm impressed that you have a pair of tongues. Or is that a British spelling? Have you tried putting the dough on parchment paper, and then sliding it in off the back of a cookie sheet? I do use my large fish spatula for removing bread/naan.

                                            1. re: MMRuth
                                              LulusMom May 23, 2009 03:16 PM

                                              almost spit my wine at the computer. Thanks for the laugh.

                                              1. re: MMRuth
                                                Harters May 23, 2009 03:49 PM

                                                Sometimes, the brain doesnt always connect to the fingers. And then when I proofread, it gives up completely. And even when I read your post, I couldnt see anything wrong till I googled to see what you must call them. Then I thought DOH! YOU IDIOT, JOHN.

                                                I got into a lotta trouble on a different board by another accidental mistyping of a four letter word I was using to describe a fellow member.

                                  2. re: Harters
                                    roxlet May 26, 2009 01:39 PM

                                    In case you see this Harters, I went to this web site that MMRuth mentioned in another post and saw a peel:


                                2. re: MMRuth
                                  roxlet May 24, 2009 04:40 AM

                                  I wound up cooking the naan on a very hot cast iron griddle, and they came out fantastically well. It was a little too warm to get the oven cranked up high enough, and I was thinking about how to replicate slapping the dough on the side of a tandor to cook. I did not oil the naan at all -- I just stretched the dough as thinly as I could and then slapped it down on the griddle. They cooked in no time, and then I flipped them onto the other side to finish. I think that a cast iron skillet would work just as well. I did them serially just before the guests arrived and then my DH heated them briefly before serving.

                                  1. re: roxlet
                                    MMRuth May 24, 2009 05:47 AM

                                    That's good to know - I will try the cast iron skillet - I know what you mean about the oven.

                                    I hope you had a wonderful dinner.

                                    1. re: MMRuth
                                      roxlet May 24, 2009 06:18 AM

                                      It was fabulous. The first course was asparagus soup with the stilton scones. Second was fish and chips with mushy peas, third was Raffles salad with mango, hearts of palm & radishes with a lime/sesame/olive oil/peanut dressing, fourth was vindaloo with basmati rice, naan, raita, and potatoes with cauliflower, then a frozen gin and tonic palate cleanser, then Hong Kong duck two ways, braised dark meat and seared breast meat, followed by the summer puddings. I have to say that they were really delicious and looked beautiful. I lined custard cups with plastic wrap which was an annoying but essential step since they released beautifully. It was a great evening and my DH was a pro in the kitchen. BTW, the title of the dinner was "Rule, Britannia," and I made drinks menus with that on the cover and a lot of the guests ordered the Pimms Cup to start.

                                      1. re: roxlet
                                        MMRuth May 24, 2009 06:20 AM

                                        That does sound wonderful - and like an incredible amount of work.

                                        1. re: MMRuth
                                          roxlet May 24, 2009 10:06 AM

                                          Well, I'm extremely lucky that my husband is a great cook and very much into this sort of thing. It was a lot of work, but since much of it could be (and was) done ahead.

                            2. re: MMRuth
                              MMRuth May 22, 2009 09:41 AM

                              Actually - I this has all the info you need for the naan ....


                              1. re: MMRuth
                                roxlet May 23, 2009 01:28 PM

                                The Stilton scones have just come out of the oven and they are brilliant! Here is a link to the recipe I used, and as you see, you can use any type of cheese you like.


                          3. re: roxlet
                            Stuffed Monkey May 23, 2009 04:17 AM

                            Perhaps you can find Ribena or Blackcurrant juice and use some of that.

                          4. b
                            bite bite May 20, 2009 10:23 PM

                            Then there's always Bird's Eye Custard and sliced bananas...

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: bite bite
                              roxlet May 21, 2009 05:02 AM


                              1. re: bite bite
                                berbadeerface May 21, 2009 06:52 AM

                                Or warm semolina with a dollop of jam in the middle...

                                1. re: berbadeerface
                                  Athena May 21, 2009 02:28 PM

                                  From my experience, even the most formal British dinners, pudding included, give more than a nod to nursery food (and I have no problem with that ;))

                              2. h
                                Harters May 20, 2009 02:55 PM

                                If the OP is wanting to go down the route of one of our heavy steamed puddings, then Sussex Pond is about the best for this time of year (although it is, IMO, still far too heavy for late spring).

                                Some other perhaps more suitable and classic ideas (recipes should be easily found online):

                                Burnt Cream ( which we claim to be ours as mcuh as the French might claim it to be creme brulee)

                                Syllabub (although I'd still prefer the posset)

                                Bakewell Pudding (after a town in Derbyshire)

                                Manchester Pudding (the city is my regional centre)

                                Queen of Puddings

                                or for real class and such an easy-peasy English classic, how about a jelly made from a goodish red wine. Wine, sugar, gelatine - all there is to it. Let it set in wine glasses for serving.


                                14 Replies
                                1. re: Harters
                                  Caitlin McGrath May 20, 2009 03:15 PM

                                  Agree that wine jelly is sophisticated (because of the flavor) and easy. Beautiful, too, topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

                                  I also think a trifle would do nicely, as these can be either homey or sophisticated, depending on what you include and how prettily you layer. They're also great for using what's seasonal and are meant to be made in advance.

                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                    Harters May 20, 2009 03:25 PM

                                    I love trifle but in this household it is entirely a dish for the Christmas festives. It's the only dessert to which Mrs H and I attach any sense of tradition. Mrs H makes it exactly as my mother showed her (right down to using tinned peaches in the bottom layer and the "hundreds & thousands" sprinked on top!)

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                      MMRuth May 21, 2009 04:34 AM

                                      Nigella has a recipe for a Chardonnay jelly with raspberries - I had trouble getting it to set, but it was beautiful.

                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                        greedygirl May 21, 2009 05:46 AM

                                        I've made quite a few jellies in my time. Nigella's Prosecco jelly is good, and I've also made Kir Royal jellies. Light and refreshing yet sophisticated - and can be prepeared in advance.

                                        I'd go for pavlova though. Love pavlova.

                                        1. re: MMRuth
                                          Harters May 21, 2009 07:11 AM

                                          This one's in my file. May be Nigella but I think it's Nigel Slater (one may have stolen it from the other). For 4 wine glasses:

                                          Soften 4 sheets of leaf gelatin in warm water. Put 75ml elderflower cordial into a saucepan with a heaped tablespoon of caster sugar, 250ml mineral water and 125ml white wine. Add the gelatine and put some heat under the pan to dissolve it and the sugar.

                                          Take it off the heat and stir in another 125ml white wine. Put some berries (whatever you want - but raspberries are brill) into wineglasses then pour the liquid over. Let it set in the fridge.

                                          Trust me - this looks a stunner with the red berries in the almost clear jelly. And, of course, you get the making out of the way well before guests arrive.

                                          1. re: Harters
                                            MMRuth May 21, 2009 07:36 AM

                                            By mineral water, do you mean sparkling water, or still? Thanks. The one I made with the raspberries had just the very lightest tinge of pink to the jelly, We just ended up eating the raspberries with the unset mixture poured on to them.

                                            1. re: MMRuth
                                              Harters May 21, 2009 08:01 AM

                                              Sorry - "still". I think the intent must be to ensure a clean neutral taste, rather than the vagaries of tap water (particularly if the recipe author was from the London area - not reknowned for its wonderfully tasting water)

                                            2. re: Harters
                                              Caitlin McGrath May 21, 2009 01:10 PM

                                              Oh, that sounds delicious, between the wine, the berries, and the elderflower.

                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                MMRuth May 21, 2009 01:30 PM

                                                I wonder if elderflower cordial is the same as elderflower liqueur? I bought a small bottle for a friend thinking that she might enjoy it in a cocktail.

                                                1. re: MMRuth
                                                  Caitlin McGrath May 21, 2009 02:12 PM

                                                  Elderflower cordial is a sugar syrup flavored with elderflowers. Like this (this is the brand I have): http://www.germandeli.com/dawhelsyh.html

                                                  It is floral and fruity, strongly reminiscent of lychees. It is delicious in sparkling water or sparkling wine. Elderflower liqueur is wonderful, too. There is a recent thread on the Spirits board about St. Germain elderflower liqueur and cocktails using it.

                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                    MMRuth May 21, 2009 02:49 PM

                                                    Thanks - I have some of that syrup - I didn't make the connection. I'll check out that Spirits thread and send it to me friend.

                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                      Harters May 21, 2009 03:35 PM

                                                      Yep. I drink it with sparkling water - I don't drink alcohol these days and tend to have this when others are having a sparkling wine as an aperitif. It looks a bit similar and I can kid myself into thinking of the old days :-)

                                                      1. re: Harters
                                                        MMRuth May 21, 2009 04:24 PM

                                                        If you like angostura bitters, I find that I enjoy some sparkling water with a squeeze of lime or lemon, and then some drops of bitters.

                                                        1. re: MMRuth
                                                          Harters May 22, 2009 02:24 AM

                                                          I drink bitters with tonic water - like the classic British cocktail "pink gin" but without the gin.

                                                          And when is say I don't drink alcohol, I don't count the few drops of bitters or a splash of cassis in sparking water. Or, in fact, cooking with booze. There are limits to abstinence, doncha know :-)

                                        2. Channa May 20, 2009 02:15 PM

                                          Has no one suggested Banoffee Pie?

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Channa
                                            Harters May 20, 2009 02:36 PM

                                            Why would they? It is a very recent invention - long after we stopped having an empire - generally credited to the Hungry Monk pub in 1972.

                                            1. re: Harters
                                              berbadeerface May 20, 2009 02:53 PM

                                              Oh god, banoffee pie! I miss it! You're right, it's not really traditional, but in the last 20 years or so it has become a classic.

                                              1. re: Harters
                                                Channa May 20, 2009 02:58 PM

                                                Well, it was invented before I was born, so for me it's traditional. :D

                                            2. m
                                              MarkC May 20, 2009 12:21 PM

                                              The challenge here is to take a traditional British dessert, which, let's face it, are a pretty stolid and unimpressive lot, and elevate it to something exciting for a formal dinner party.

                                              You might consider a gingerbread layer cake with some kind of zingy frosting. An orange cream cheese frosting would probably go well with it.

                                              I was intrigued by your request and so dug out a few English baking books for ideas. Two stood out for being traditional and identifiably British but with a modern twist. They were a white chocolate trifle, and a chocolate and rice pudding tart. If either of these interest you, I can post the recipes.

                                              Finally, you could also put out a plate of shortbread and/or ginger cookies with whatever dessert you serve to expand the English theme.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: MarkC
                                                roxlet May 20, 2009 12:40 PM

                                                You're correct! I want to find a way to elevate a homey British dessert to something worthy of being served at a fancy, formal dinner party. Rice pudding has come up a few times, but I have to say that it is not one of my favorite things perhaps because it really seems to me to be a nursery food, and I guess that I haven't ever had one I truly loved. I thought about gingerbread, but again, the season seems to be terribly wrong for that. Maybe I will have to go with a summer pudding after all. I have some dough for pain de miel rising right now so I can have it as a back-up. The other thing that I was thinking about is the Halsey Tart from Sherry Yard's book The Secrets of Baking. Essentially, it is a Twix bar, named from a Mr. Halsey whom Yard met working in London. He used to be a candy maker for Mars. It's very pretty. There's a chocolate cookie base with a caramel cream filled with a bit of caramel and topped with a lid of ganache. My hesitancy here is that I'm nervous about making this for the first time for a big dinner. So here I go again, back and forth!

                                                1. re: roxlet
                                                  MarkC May 20, 2009 08:13 PM

                                                  I have an English recipe for a gingerbread cake with lemon verbena mouse filling. The cake is heavily garnished with fresh berries and sliced figs. This could be a nice compromise between seasonality and tradition. Unfortunately, the brits just don't do much with fresh fruit desserts, unlike the French. Summer pudding and fools is about all I could find. Your Halsey tart sounds nice but isn't recognizably English.

                                                  Individual summer puddings would be lovely and make for a very elegant presentation. You could add some kind of flavored whipped cream or mousse as well.

                                                  As an aside, I looked up that Sussex Pond pudding and, God, what a calorie and cholesterol bomb. On several of my trips to England I became physically sick by the end, something that never happens to me, and now I understand why.

                                                  1. re: MarkC
                                                    MarkC May 20, 2009 08:23 PM

                                                    PS the gingerbread cake has a buttercream frosting on top and a marzipan edging. In the picture the top is heavily laden with fresh berries, with mounds of fresh berries surrounding the cake on the platter. Looks awfully nice and elegant.

                                                    1. re: MarkC
                                                      MarkC May 20, 2009 09:02 PM

                                                      PSS If it were me I'd do individual summer puddings (there's a recipe using brioche floating around the chowhound site) with a white chocolate mousse on the side. The mousse would add the decadence and also contrast beautifully with the sourness of the fruit. Add diced mango to the berries for the color and empire theme. Might even slip a couple of coconut shortbread cookies on each plate to fill out the flavor package and increase the decadence and empire theme.

                                                      That would be a zippy, high concept dessert that is also thoroughly English. Wow, that was fun. I might have my own British empire party!

                                                      1. re: MarkC
                                                        Harters May 21, 2009 01:46 AM

                                                        Individual summer puddings might be a good idea - and are a fairly common summer restaurant dessert.

                                                        However, currants are absolutely required for authenticity - other fruits are variable. Might still work for the OP without currants, in which case, I would keep it as traditional as possible - ordinary white bread and nothing served with it, other than pouring cream. To add anything to this simple dish detracts from it - very much a clear case of "less is more".


                                                        ( Mark - I think your physical sickness is probably just down to poor choice of dishes - perhaps an overload of high calorie food, rather than a more balanced menu that most of us would eat, or just food tastes to which you were not accustomed. Easily done especially when on holiday or travelling on employer expenses. We have many visitors here who enjoy our food and don't become ill (check out the UK board for ideas of what to eat on your next visit - as you did last time). Enjoy.

                                                        1. re: Harters
                                                          MarkC May 21, 2009 05:08 AM

                                                          Harter - I meant no offense. I thought the whole thing was amusing, and England traditionally had a reputation, quite dated by now, I'm sure, for very heavy and sometimes indigestible food. As I was a tourist I was eager to sample traditional English cooking, and this must have been the cause of my downfall. Particularly the breakfasts!

                                                          1. re: MarkC
                                                            Harters May 21, 2009 07:00 AM


                                                            No offence or national slur perceived at my end, mate.

                                                            Many of our traditional dishes (say dating back to 19th century and before) are indeed heavy - hence my comments upthread warning against Sussex Pond. They're fine on a cold winter's night on this small island off the coast of Northern Europe. But you woudlnt want to eat them every day.

                                                            As you, whenever I travel, I want to sample the local classics. It can be, as you rightly say, be a downfall if you're not careful. Thankfully, I travel on holiday usually to European countries and they, like us, have fairly restrained portions in restaurants. However, I can come back from a fortnight in Spain and feel I may not want to eat for the next month.


                                              2. l
                                                LJS May 20, 2009 11:09 AM

                                                Not to be pedantic, but a meringue is NOT a marshmallow...they may share some of the same ingredients, but the gelatin aspect of marshmallows and tha manner of cooking make the texture entirely different.

                                                Still, you are not likely to change your husband's thinking...so, how about Sussex Pond Pudding? Delia Smith has a great enlightened recipe for this traditional favourite at Delia Online. I can vouch for both its formality and its acceptance by dinner guests: it was (one of) our desserts of choice at a very la-di-da dinner we gave a couple of years ago.

                                                If you find that too daunting, there is always Lemon Snow.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: LJS
                                                  roxlet May 20, 2009 12:26 PM

                                                  Sussex Pond Pudding is fascinating! Several of the recipies I saw for the meringue portion of the Pavlova said that the meringue should be cooked so as to be soft and marshmallow-y inside, not dry like a traditional meringue that you would so for a daquoise, say.

                                                  1. re: roxlet
                                                    LJS May 20, 2009 01:25 PM

                                                    That version of meringue is exactly how I would describe the one that my Aunt Ivy from Seven Oaks, Kent made. She taught me to undercook it slightly/no browning, of course...load it up with lemon curd, a few small strawberries and a cloud of whipped cream. But I still draw the line at the marshmallow comparison....thats probably because my experiences with marshmallows are the S'mores variety-sort of rubbery? the British Pavlova does not have that 'bouncy' quality. Good luck on that decision!

                                                    1. re: LJS
                                                      roxlet May 20, 2009 01:49 PM

                                                      That sounds delicious! Meringue, lemon curd and strawberries -- yum!

                                                2. NYCkaren May 19, 2009 08:08 AM

                                                  If you want individual servings, how about mini-pavlovas? You could use whatever fruit you like.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: NYCkaren
                                                    roxlet May 20, 2009 10:31 AM

                                                    My husband nixed the Pavlova idea - he doesn't much care for marshmallow -- though I think that it could work. He told me that he thought that we should return to the British homeland for dessert, but as far as the fools and possett and rice pudding goes, this is a rather formal dinner and they seem perhaps a bit to casual for this event. I have to say that I'm still kind of stumped. Thank you to everyone for the great suggestions so far -- I'm kind of getting a bit of an education on English desserts!

                                                  2. b
                                                    berbadeerface May 19, 2009 07:33 AM

                                                    Gooseberry (or rhubarb) fool.

                                                    1. Den May 19, 2009 07:05 AM

                                                      How about the ever popular Spotted Dick!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Den
                                                        Harters May 19, 2009 07:48 AM

                                                        I'd thought of that but our steamed puddings will be too heavy for this time of year.

                                                        1. re: Den
                                                          Robin Joy May 20, 2009 11:26 PM

                                                          Nasty, that. Invented after King Henry VIII's spendid Hampton Court.

                                                        2. h
                                                          Harters May 19, 2009 06:52 AM

                                                          You can't get more British (or English, at least) than lemon posset. Recipe (if you can call it that) is for six servings:

                                                          Bring 600ml double cream and 140g caster sugar slowly to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Take it off the heat and and the juice and grated zest of 2 lemons. Pour into 6 ramekins (small glasses would be prettier) and chill for 3 hours or so. Dessert sorted!

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Harters
                                                            roxlet May 19, 2009 08:41 AM

                                                            Then what? Is this what Americans call a pudding? Do you serve with cream? Could you decorate with raspberries? I'm not sure I've ever had this...

                                                            1. re: roxlet
                                                              Harters May 19, 2009 01:47 PM

                                                              "Then what?"

                                                              Then eat. Traditionally with some shortbread on the side but I wouldnt normally bother.

                                                              I'm British - I wouldnt know if Americans would call lemon posset a pudding. You do not serve it with extra cream - it's principal component IS cream. You could decorate it with raspberries - then it wouldnt be lemon posset - but lemon posset with raspberries. An entirely different dish altogether. Depending on where you are, I agree that you may well never have had this - it is a traditonal English dessert.

                                                              EDIT: I see in my original recipe, I typed "heat and and the juice". Of course, you'll have all read that correctly as "heat and add the juice"

                                                              1. re: Harters
                                                                emily May 22, 2009 02:21 PM

                                                                Lemon Posset is wonderful! Had never heard of it till I tried it at St. John's in London. I suppose Americans might call it a pudding. It thickens in the fridge. I serve it in pot de creme pots.

                                                            2. re: Harters
                                                              httpmom Jan 31, 2010 03:21 AM

                                                              One of my personal favs!

                                                            3. s
                                                              Stuffed Monkey May 18, 2009 06:12 PM

                                                              I make summer pudding staring with a can of blackcurrants so that there's plenty of juice. I was given this suggestion in London and even made it once for Christmas as due to a new home Christmas puddings hadn't been made. You could even just use the other fruits and add a bit of blackcurrant jam or juice (Ribena or otherwise).

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Stuffed Monkey
                                                                roxlet May 18, 2009 06:21 PM

                                                                Hmmm. I'm not sure I've ever even SEEN a can of blackcurrants!

                                                                1. re: roxlet
                                                                  buttertart May 21, 2009 12:57 PM

                                                                  Me neither (I presume we are both in the States) - until recently blackcurrants could not be grown in the US because of some kind of blight they could carry that could affect other crops. If still wanting to go the summer pudding route, you could use a mix of frozen and fresh raspberries, blackberries, and use some good blackcurrant jam which is available here as a binder I would think (combine and simmer them slightly until the juices run). I have to confess I tart mine up with slices of poundcake rather than bread as the outer layer.

                                                              2. l
                                                                LJS May 18, 2009 05:39 PM

                                                                Pavlova is (I believe) Australian by birth and that is also part of British Empire...it is lovely this time of year-especially if you add a layer of lemon curd and kiwi (for the New Zealand aspect).

                                                                Rice pudding, cold and topped with whipped cream and candied ginger. Spice it more assertively than usual, add ginger, saffron and pink peppercorn to the usual cinnamon and nutmeg.

                                                                There is a Scottish dish with whiskey, honey, oatmeal and cream whose name is escaping me, but it was always served with tiny strawberries in my aunt's home in Glasgow as soon as the berries were available in the spring.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: LJS
                                                                  Amuse Bouches May 18, 2009 05:42 PM

                                                                  Rice pudding flavored with Cardamom and/or Saffron-- British Raj
                                                                  Eton Mess -- basically a variation of Pavlova -- meringues, strawberries and cream. Lovely this time of year.

                                                                  Individual rhubarb crumbles.


                                                                  1. re: LJS
                                                                    LJS May 19, 2009 08:50 AM

                                                                    Cranachan-very simple, very traditional!

                                                                  2. a
                                                                    Apple May 18, 2009 05:38 PM

                                                                    Along the lines of a fool - how about an Eton Mess?

                                                                    Could you travel to New Zealand for a Pavlova?

                                                                    1. linengirl May 18, 2009 05:26 PM

                                                                      Trifle? Can be QUITE festive, and as boozy as you want... And yes, I think you could do them individually. Maybe in footed glass dishes? I love how people get all enthusiastic about seconds if they think there is more to be had, but no question, individual servings are potentially more beautiful.

                                                                      1. alwayscooking May 18, 2009 03:52 PM

                                                                        With raspberries, blackberries and strawberries available - a Fool.
                                                                        Or a mango tart to reference back to India.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: alwayscooking
                                                                          LulusMom May 23, 2009 02:20 PM

                                                                          Rhubarb is in season, and makes a wonderful fool.

                                                                        2. j
                                                                          jenhen2 May 18, 2009 01:39 PM

                                                                          How about cold rice pudding, individually served in footed dessert dished and garnished with a sprig of mint and an edible flower? I think a nice coconut version would be ethnic enough and also right for spring.

                                                                          1. b
                                                                            bite bite May 18, 2009 01:38 PM

                                                                            Trifle. Mmmmm.

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