Here is a selection of hot, comforting desserts for a cold winter’s evening. The first is a luscious and decadent chocolate orange dessert that stays soft in the centre.
The combination of orange and chocolate work very well together but if you prefer you could leave out the zest and juice and use three tablespoons of espresso coffee, or even warm water instead, in each of the sections.
I always find rice pudding very comforting, we used to eat it cold when I was a child and stir a dollop of raspberry jam into make it pink.
This dessert is more akin to the ones served in India, where the spices give it depth and flavour. Nutmeg and cardamom are perfect alongside the vanilla. You can use a fresh vanilla pod if you would like some extra flavour just remember to remove it before serving the final dessert.
You can also add raisins in at the early stage, while you are warming the cream. It is good to add them as early as possible so they have time to puff up and soften.
The method of cooking grains such as rice or oats in liquid is probably one of the oldest methods of cooking that humans invented. Rice pudding, in its sweet form, is said to date back thousands of years to China, where rice is gown extensively.
In Roman times it was seen as food for the infirmed. Even today it is a nice, tuck-in to if you are feeling under the weather.
For the sauce
Heat the oven to 170C.
Grease an ovenproof dish.
Sieve the flour, bread soda and cocoa powder together and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add in the eggs and vanilla. Add in the flour mixture until combined.
Mix in the orange juice and zest until they too are combined. Mix the sauce ingredients together.
Fill a roasting tin with hot water, one big enough to sit the ovenproof dish into comfortably.
Scoop the mixture into the greased dish and flatten it out, scoop the sauce over the first chocolate layer.
Put the dish into the water filled roasting tin and carefully place the lot into the oven.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out with a moist crumb from the edges.
You may need to top up the water around the edges.
Heat your oven to 140C.
Place the cream milk, vanilla, nutmeg and cardamom pods into a heavy based saucepan and bring to simmering point. Stir in the sugar and then the rice. Allow to simmer for a minute, stirring as you do, this will release some of the starch in the rice and help your pudding to thicken.
Scoop the mixture into an oven proof dish and allow to cook for a half an hour. Remove it from the oven and stir the mixture.
Sprinkle the top with a little muscovado sugar and place it back into the oven for about an hour until the pudding has thickened and is golden on top.
For the crumble
For the fruit layer
Heat your oven to 180C.
Beat together the flour, butter and sugar until the mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs. Do not over beat as it will start to combine too much. Stir the nuts into the crumble mixture along with the oats.
Toss the pear, apple, raisins, honey, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla together. Scoop the mixture into an ovenproof dish.
Gently sprinkle the toping onto the fruit. Sprinkle with the extra muscovado sugar and place into the oven for about 40 minutes, until the fruit are soft and the topping has turned golden.