Monday, September 14, 2009
Laurie Colwin and Chocolate Pear Pudding
The past week or so it's actually been cool enough in Texas to think about turning on the oven, so for dinner I cooked the Tiny Thanksgiving: a 3-lb Butterball turkey roast (comes with a gravy packet); glazed carrots, green bean casserole, and corn. And since it's fall, and pears are in season, I was able to make one of my favorite homey desserts: Chocolate Pear Pudding from Laurie Colwin's excellent book, More Home Cooking.
For those of you who don't know her work, Laurie Colwin was a fiction writer and food essayist who died suddenly at the age of 48. She wrote several novels and collections of short stories, but may be best known for her food columns in Gourmet. More Home Cooking, her second book of food essays with recipes, was published posthumously. They are witty and charming, and her writing style is so easy and accessible, it's like she's sitting in the kitchen talking to you. Her novels and short stories are also wonderful, but I'll have to blog about those later.
In her essay, In Praise of Pears, Laurie includes the Chocolate Pear Pudding, which is not an American-style custard pudding, but a British baked pudding. For lovers of British literature like myself, this is what characters are referring to when they say, "What's for pudding?" Colwin is a big fan of British cookbooks, and writes that this recipe comes from Josceline Dimbleby's Book of Puddings, Desserts and Savouries. It's out of print, but copies are available from the online bookseller Alibris and from Amazon.co.uk.
It's an easy and wonderful fall dessert. The pudding itself is fluffy and cakelike, and the soft baked pears at the bottom are a tender surprise. Apples would be inappropriate in a chocolate dessert, but the pears are subtle and delicious.
One of the ingredients in this dessert is Lyle's Golden Syrup -- golden treacle, to be specific. Those of you who are Harry Potter fans will now have two reasons to purchase a can or jar of treacle. You an make a treacle tart, (Harry's favorite dessert) and still have enough left over to make this wonderful dessert. It's available at well-stocked grocery stores and specialty gourmet or British stores.
Chocolate Pear Pudding
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
For the pears:
1 lb pears (about 4) peeled, cored and cut into chunks
2 Tb white sugar
2 TB butter
Butter a baking dish and fill the bottom with pears. Sprinkle with sugar and dot with butter, just like a fruit pie.
Next, mix the batter:
3/4 cup flour
1 heaping TB cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar (scant)
2 TB Lyle's Golden Syrup
1 large egg, beaten
4 TB melted butter
1/4 cup milk
Beat this into a batter and pour it on top of the pears. Bake about 45 minutes or until a pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
You can eat this hot or cold, and it's excellent served with ice cream.