Win At Valentine's Day With These Homemade Puddings

We all know that you score bigger points on Valentines Day with a hand-made gift from the heart, am I right? So why not take a little bit of time to prepare a warm and delicious home-made dessert for the table and take a pass on the pricey roses and chocolates.

These recipes run from simple to a bit more complex, so if you are looking for an edible project for two, these are just the thing.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Toffee Bourbon Sauce

You’ve never experienced pumpkin quite like this. You’ll be pleasantly pleased by the punchy spice in this perfect pudding.

 Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of day-old bread cut into chunky cubes
  • 55g chopped pecans

For the custard:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 170g canned pumpkin puree, plain (no spices added)
  • 360ml single cream
  • 55g unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 105g light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt

1 sachet of Pott’s Toffee & Whisky Sauce

To prepare:

You will need a 20 x 5 cm baking pan, sprayed with nonstick spray

  1. Preheat oven to 180C with a rack in the centre of the oven
  2. Make the custard: In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs, pumpkin puree, single cream, butter, sugar, vanilla, spices, and salt. Add the bread and stir with a wooden spoon until all the cubes are covered with the custard.
  3. Pour the bread cubes and custard into the prepared baking pan, making sure each cube is well covered with custard, and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes to set.
  5. If serving fresh from the oven, you've got some time while the pudding is cooling to pour the contents of the Toffee & Whisky Sauce sachet into a microwave safe bowl and microwave on full power for 2 minutes, stopping to stir halfway through.
  6. Serve warm with the toffee sauce. Nobody will complain if you scoop some vanilla or salted caramel ice cream over the top either.
 
Dark Chocolate Babka
Can you think of anything more comforting than a warm slice of buttery brioche with swirls of dark chocolate, orange, and cinnamon twisted throughout? Yeah, we can’t either. Babka is perfect with a cuppa or as a treat on its own. The recipe is a bit busy, but you best believe you won’t find a better babka. 

Makes 2 

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 480g plain flour
  • 120g plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • zest of half an orange
  • 236ml of whole milk, lukewarm
  • 1 packet dry active yeast (7g)
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 140g unsalted butter cut into tablespoon-sized chunks, room temperature 

For the filling:

  • 130g dark chocolate
  • 120g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 50g powdered sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

For the glaze:

  • 100g sugar
  • 125ml water
  • 1 tbsp dark honey (the darker the better, but any honey will do) 

To Prepare:

  1. Make the dough: In a mixing bowl add the flour, sugar, salt, and orange zest. Whisk to incorporate.
  2. In a stand mixer bowl add the milk and yeast and whisk to incorporate. Let sit 10 minutes. The milk should start to foam a bit as the yeast becomes active.
  3. Add the egg and egg yolk to the milk and then add the dry ingredients on top. Mix with a dough hook at low speed for 2-3 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides and return to mixing at medium speed until well incorporated and smooth dough forms.
  4. Reduce the mixing speed to low and add the butter. Continue mixing until the butter is incorporated throughout and a slightly sticky dough forms, about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. Cover the bowl with cling film and let stand for one hour.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with non-stick spray. Empty the dough onto the paper and cut it into 2 equal portions. Shape each portion into a square, cover the baking sheet with cling film, and refrigerate overnight.
  7. Make the filling: In a double boiler melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring until smooth. Stir in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. Let stand to cool to room temperature.
  8. Fill and shape the dough: Spray two baking pans (9-by-4 inch) with nonstick spray and line them both with parchment paper allowing the paper to come over the long sides of the pan by about 2 inches.
  9. Roll out each portion of dough to a 16-inch square. Using a spatula, carefully spread all but 1/2 cup of the filling over the dough, leaving about a 1/2 inch of a border without filling.
  10. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll each of the dough squares into tight logs.
  11. Now take a sharp knife and cut each log in half lengthwise. Spread the remaining filling over the top of 2 of the halves and some on the sides if you have any leftover.
  12. Take one of the halved logs with no filling on top and lay it over the half that is filled on top at a slight angle, forming a skinny X.
  13. Starting at the top, intertwine and twist 2 of the halves all the way down, making a reasonably tight braid and ensuring the cut sides are always facing the top. Repeat with the leftover logs and then place both the braids in the baking pans. Cover them with a clean towel and allow to sit at room temperature until they have doubled in size, about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 190C.
  14. Make the glaze: While the babkas are rising, make the glaze by bringing the honey, sugar, and water to a boil in a saucepan. Boil for 5-6 minutes or until syrup coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  15. Bake the loaves in the centre of the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until browned and risen. Remove the pans and allow to cool for 15 minutes. While they are still in the pans, brush the room temperature glaze over the tops of the loaves.
  16. Using the parchment paper, lift the babkas out of the baking pans and allow them to cool on a rack.
  17. Resist the urge to cut right into these, regardless of how much you want to get into one. The filling will be very hot and will likely pour out if it hasn’t completely cooled.