Chocolate Rum Raisin Bread Pudding with Spiced Rum Sauce

Chocolate Bread Pudding

Ten years ago, before we moved to Denmark, we lived in England. We moved there from Geneva with our children, a toddler and infant at the time. It was an exciting move, because we were leaving the francophone environment of Suisse Romande and immersing ourselves in the relief of all-things-English. While I’ve written about that experience on previous posts, this post is specifically about my discovery of English bread pudding.

After a brief rental experience outside of London, we moved to the West Sussex countryside where we bought a feng-shui challenged barn conversion on a long country lane with distant views to the Isle of Wight. Our nearest neighbors lived a half mile away. Goodness knows what we were thinking when we bought this lovely but incredibly remote property. It would have been an extremely isolating experience save for our nearest neighbors who kindly took us under their wing. We became good friends over many meals which we took turns preparing on our AGAs. (No self-respecting provincial UK home would be complete without an AGA.)

One of the first meals our neighbors prepared for us ended with a chocolate bread pudding. Never a fan, I was dubious at first, but with one bite I was hooked. Crunchy on top, squidgy in the middle and blanketed with double cream, this was dense, rich and fudgy – nothing like what I expected. Since then I have dabbled with iterations of this dessert, taking inspiration from my neighbor and Delia Smith (Britain’s Ina Garten), while tweaking with raisins, rum and cinnamon to suit my taste.

Chocolate Rum Raisin Bread Pudding with Spiced Rum Sauce
Serves 6

1/2 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dark rum, divided
1 – 10″ loaf French-style bread, crusts removed, sliced 1/2″ thick
6 oz. (180 g.) dark (70-72%) chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs

For the rum sauce:
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark rum
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine raisins and 2 tablespoons rum in a small bowl. Let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes. Lightly butter a 9″ square baking pan. Slice bread slices in half on the diagonal. Set aside.

Combine all the remaining pudding ingredients, except the eggs, in the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water.) Stir until the chocolate and butter melt and the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and gently stir to combine well.

Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add the chocolate to the eggs, mixing to combine well. Pour enough chocolate into the baking pan to leave a 1/4″coating on the bottom of the pan. SPrinkle half the raisins over the chocolate. Arrange half the bread slices over the raisins, lightly overlapping the slices in a scalloped pattern. Pour half the remaining chocolate over the bread. Sprinkle remaining raisins over chocolate. Top with remaining bread slices, overlapping. Pour remaining chocolate chocolate over the top of the pudding, thoroughly covering bread. Gently press bread down into chocolate. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24 hours.

Remove pudding from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. PReheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Bake until the top is crunchy and the inside is very soft, 40-45 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve with Spiced Rum Sauce.

Spiced Rum Sauce
Makes about 2 cups.

2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark rum
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Stir cornstarch and water together in a small bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cornstarch to cream, whisking constantly, and simmer until cream begins to thicken. Stir in sugar, rum and cinnamon. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.

Retro-Classic: Butterscotch Pudding (or Custard?)

Butterscotch Pudding

One thing I enjoy most about the food blogging community is connecting with food bloggers from around the world.  With all the travels and expat journeys I have experienced, I take great pleasure in reading food blogs from countries in which I have lived.  I am taken back to the cultures, food and flavors of favorite cities, my memory jogged of the life I led in each place.  And I feel as though I am catching up with an old friend.

One such blog is The Passionate Cook  from England.  Johanna and her lovely blog have been an inspiration to me since I started TasteFood last year.  I enjoy reading her posts and recipes, and I am often reminded not only of my life in London some years ago, but also of Johanna’s home country, Austria, where I lived for a year during university.  Another notable feature on The Passionate Cook is an event called WTSIM (Waiter, there is something in my…) that she co-hosts with Cook Sister and Spittoon.  Each month, a particular theme is selected, and it is up to us bloggers to create a recipe around the new theme.  So far, I have managed to miss each and every deadline, but this time around I am on top of it.  The current theme is Retro-Classic, and I know exactly what I will make.  Befittingly, I mentioned Butterscotch Pudding in a post I made a while back called Tea and Pudding, which reflected on – what else – moving to England.  I referenced Butterscotch Pudding as a dessert from childhood, something that takes us back to our past, a comfort food – and a Retro-Classic.

Question:  Is the proper British way of calling this dessert a Butterscotch Custard?

Butterscotch Pudding
Makes 4 large or 6 small portions

1-1/4 cup (300 ml.) whole milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
4 tablespoons (60 g.) unsalted butter
1 cup (200 gr.) dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup (180 ml.) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup (60 ml.) milk and cornstarch.  Whisk until combined and there are no traces of cornstarch.  Whisk in eggs and egg yolk.  Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar is melted and bubbly.  Remove from heat.  Add remaining milk and heavy cream in a steady stream to sugar mixture, whisking constantly, to combine.  Stir in salt.
Return to heat and add cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer one minute, whisking, until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in vanilla extract.
Pour pudding into a serving bowl or individual glasses or ramekins.  Chill at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.  Cover puddings with plastic wrap to prevent skin forming if desired.
Serve with unsweetened whipped cream and toasted pecan nuts as garnish..

Mixed Berry Trifle


One of the best aspects of living in new countries is discovering and adopting the local cuisine. This is my version of a trifle, which, to me, is a quintessential English dessert – or as the English would say, a pudding. I was first served trifle by a new friend who invited us to a dinner party when we lived in London. It was beautifully presented in a large glass bowl showing off a stunning swirl of berries and cream. I also remember the appropriate ooh’s and aah’s that accompanied the presentation, punctuated by complete silence as everyone spooned into their luscious dessert.

Distantly related to a fool (a concoction of cream and fruit), the trifle has a history that extends as far back as the late 16th century. Variations exist, but suffice to say it is a sumptuous parfait of fruit and cream, rippled with layers of custard or curd, and laced with spirits or syrup. Best of all, trifle is a crowd pleaser, forgiving in its portions and ingredients, a do-ahead dessert that elegantly displays the season’s ripe fruit.

Mixed Berry Trifle
Serves 8-10

A combination of seasonal berries may be used.  This trifle uses fresh raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.  Begin preparing the trifle one day ahead.

For the lemon sponge cake:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
5 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the lemon curd:
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

For the syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water

For the fruit and topping:
1/2 lb. fresh raspberries
1/2 lb. fresh blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Cointreau or Framboise (optional)

1 lb. strawberries, hulled and halved

2 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar

Whole strawberries, raspberries or blackberries as garnish

Prepare the lemon sponge cake:
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line a buttered jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; butter the parchment paper and dust the pan with flour, knocking out the excess.  In a small bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking powder; set aside.  In bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the egg yolks, sugar and lemon zest until the mixture is very thick and pale.  Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Continue to beat the mixture for 3 to 5 minutes, until it forms a ribbon when the beater is lifted.


Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.  In a clean bowl beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks.  Whisk one third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it.


Fold in the remaining whites gently but thoroughly.  Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.  Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a tester comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Invert onto a rack and discard parchment paper.  Let stand uncovered, overnight to dry out.  Cut the cake with a serrated knife into 2 cm. cubes.

Prepare the lemon curd:
This lemon curd uses the egg whites in addition to the yolks, resulting in a milder, less intense curd that does not overpower the trifle.
Whisk eggs, sugar and lemon juice in a heavy medium saucepan to blend.  Add butter and stir over medium heat until curd thickens to custard consistency, about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in lemon zest.  Press plastic wrap onto surface of curd and chill until cold, at least 4 hours.  (Can be prepared 3 days in advance.  Refrigerate until use.)

Prepare the syrup:
The syrup is a child-friendly variation of the spirits normally added to trifle. Substitute 1/3 cup Cointreau or Framboise for a more potent dessert.
Combine sugar, lemon juice and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute.  Cool to room temperature.

Prepare the fruit:
Combine raspberries, blackberries, sugar and optional liqueur in bowl.
Mash with fork.


Let stand 30 minutes to macerate.

To assemble trifle, line bottom of a large glass bowl or 8-10 individual glass goblets (depending on size) with sponge cake pieces.  Brush with syrup or spirits.


Spread 1/3 raspberry mixture over sponge cake; fill in gaps and line sides with strawberries.  Top with 1/3 lemon curd.  Repeat layering twice using 1/3 cake, syrup, 1/3 raspberry mixture and strawberries, and 1/3 curd.  Cover and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 6.
Before serving, whip cream to soft peaks.  Beat in 2 tablespoons sugar, taking care not to overbeat.  Spread cream evenly over trifle.  Arrange whole berries on top as garnish.

Tea and Pudding

I miss the English language.

In 1999, we moved to London from Geneva due to a corporate relocation. After 9 years in Switzerland, this was a new development in our family saga. Among the mixed emotions, one standout was a relief to live again in an English speaking culture. We could move right in and mix with the locals! We could live anywhere, not dependent on an international community or school to settle in. If we didn’t want to pay a hugely-exorbitant property price in London, we could pay a moderately-exorbitant property price in the countryside. We could move to a charming provincial English village in the hills or downs, find a crumbling stone property or a creaky half-timbered cottage and fit right in. After all, we were fluent in the local language – we only missed a sturdy pair of wellies.

I should have known better. I had plenty of British expat friends back in Geneva. Perhaps I hadn’t paid attention, or perhaps in the expat world, you have your own expat culture and dialect; everyone ends up speaking affected versions of the international language of English, adapted and tweaked to mingle with the myriad mother tongues and language abilities encountered in an enormous international community.

Whatever the case, upon arrival in London and following a brief rental experience in Surrey, we moved to that aforementioned tiny provincial village where we purchased a rambling, L-shaped, feng-shui-challenged barn renovation near the south coast with distant views to the Isle of Wight. Suddenly, I found myself in the thick of all things English and thoroughly in the dark.

While I can write volumes about our bumbling and surprisingly foreign experience settling into U.K. life, I will remain on the topic of language. After all, that was one of the perks of this move for us, and the excuse we used to propel ourselves to a remote corner of Southeast England in our well-intentioned quest to live like a local.

So please reflect upon these images:

Here is a picture of Tea.                 And here is a picture of Tea.
May_08_tea_002_4 May_08_tea_006_3







Explanation: If your child is invited home by a classmate for Tea one day, rest assured your precious 4 year-old will not be served a scalding cup of Earl Grey.  Most likely, he will be supplied with an early supper served to children; beans on toast is a favorite.

Here is a picture of Pudding.         And here is a picture of Pudding.

Chocolate Mousse Brownies







Explanation: If you are invited to a neighbour’s home for dinner and asked to bring a pudding, don’t despair if you are unsure as to whether you can recreate your mother’s Butterscotch Pudding recipe from your childhood. Pudding is a synonym for dessert, so feel free to live on the wild side and whip up a cake or trifle.

Now you have an idea of the linguistic hurdles I faced.  However, with time, and in my eternal pursuit of going native and not blatantly sticking out like the Yankee that I am, I slowly caught on to the English language.  My vocabulary shifted.  I embraced words such as whilst and hence.  I quickly learnt to refer to the car boot and clothing articles such as knickers, jumpers, and trainers.  More importantly, I learnt to never, ever, compliment someone on their pants (blush) – for they are trousers.  My written word adjusted to include u’s and t’s (neighbour, favourite, learnt, burnt.) The letter “z” became “zed” and was often substituted with an “s” as in finalise and realise.  Ever, ever so civilised.

Years later, when we would move on from England to Denmark, and I was straddling the Danish and international communities, British-English remained the English language.  I miss it now and still use it in my writing.  Unfortunately, my very-American computer program is none too pleased, and my text is littered with red lines.