You will quickly realise that this book is promoted by Carnation and that every recipe contains condensed milk. Don't let this put you off. Condensed milk is a fantastic ingredient and a great store cupboard standby. It reminds me very much of my childhood, when I cooked all sorts of sticky creations with it, much to the consternation of my parents, who didn't share my infantile sweet tooth. Condensed milk reminds me of yesteryear, of more innocent times when puddings were comforting and hearty and enjoyed with less guilt than in these health-obsessed times. We all know that a little bit of what you fancy does you good.
The book is divided into 4 sections - Comfort puds, Posh puds, Icecreams & cold desserts and Sweets & treats. Each recipe is accompanied by an attractive photograph. The recipes are all quite simple to make and use no more than 6 or 7 ingredients. I particularly loved Decadent chocolate and raspberry torte and Blueberry mallow rocky road. Also, since discovering Phil Vickery's rice pudding recipe in this book, I have never made rice pudding any other way than with condensed milk. It really is superb, so much creamier than any other rice pudding I've eaten. I haven't yet tried serving it with the Marsala poached plums he suggests though.
For all its homely connotations, condensed milk can be used to create some quite sophisticated treats, as Phil Vickery shows us in this book with his recipes for warm raspberries with Savoy sponge fingers and Rose petal Eton Mess. It really is a most versatile ingredient.
For a small book, this really covers all bases as far as puddings are concerned. Whether you were cooking for a dinner party or whether you were wanting something warm and satisfying to end a family meal, you will find it in here. Because the recipes are simple, children will enjoy joining in, particularly making the sticky toffee raisin and rice squares and cookies that are included. There is also a recipe for an alternative to Chistmas pudding - Christmas Cake and Brandy Parfait - which basically turns Christmas pudding into an icecream treat and is, according to the author, much more popular with children.
Although some might be put off by a book that is promoting Carnation, it is also supporting Shelter, which helps people at risk of homelessness, so that is a plus. It is a sobering reminder that cooking delicious treats at home and sharing them with our families is not something everyone can take for granted.
Health fanatics would probably be better steering clear of this book and I would certainly say don't go near it if you're on a diet, because it's just too tempting. For the rest of you though - cook, eat, enjoy - and give your teeth an extra good brush afterwards!
FERN BRITTON - EVER WONDERED WHY SHE IS SO HAPPY?
Have you ever watched ITV's "This Morning" and wondered why the delightful Fern Britton is always smiling. Well, I think the secret is out. Not only is she married to the ravishing Phil Vickery; he also tempts her with wondrous puddings all the time. He discloses a number of his recipes in his book "A Passion for Puddings". Phil Vickery also stars on "This Morning" as a resident chef and is often referred to by his title of "King of Puddings". From reading through this book, I think he deserves that accolade. If you have a sweet tooth then you will love this book.
"A Passion for Puddings" is a collection of 35 classic and contemporary recipes. And, wait for it.....they all contain Condensed Milk. Yes, that fabulous ingredient that sets those of us of a sweet inclination all of a quiver.
GOOD EXCUSE TO BUY THE BOOK
Before I tempt you with the delights hidden in this gem of a book, I will mention a bit of a mystery about it to you. The book is written by Phil Vickery and published by Simon & Schauster UK Ltd. However, the foreword is written by Adam Sampson who is Director of the charity "Shelter" and he gives thanks to both Phil Vickery and Carnation the producers of Condensed Milk for making "the project possible" and he also thanks everyone who has bought this wonderful book. So, although, the book does not actually state it, presumably at least part of the profits from this book goes to the Shelter Charity. All in all, this book is my dream come true purchase. I have never had an excuse before to buy a book full of calorie-laden puddings. Indeed, I often feel guilty as I add another Pudding or Cake book to my already over filled bookshelf. My other half, usually shakes his head and asks why I need another of these cookbooks. Well, for once I have an excuse as I am actually helping a charity!
Anyway, I've teased you enough, now lets get serious. The book is divided into an introduction then four glorious chapters.
In this Phil briefly mentions his fond family memories for using Carnation Condensed Milk and also states that he hopes you will share his passion for puddings. Not half!
COMFORT CAKES AND PUDS
You just know when you find a chapter with this sort of title, that it is going to be good. And I must say, it doesn't disappoint. This contains recipes for:- Hot Chocolate Fondant Puddings; Fudgy Chocolate Croissant Pudding; Chocolate Banoffee Pie; Stem Ginger Sponge and Sticky Orange Syrup; Yorkshire Rhubarb Fool, Banana Rum and Walnut Tea loaf; Baked Rice Pudding with Marsala Poached Plums and finally Carnation Lemon Drench Cake.
I have tried the recipes for the Hot Chocolate Fondant Puddings; the Chocolate Banoffee Pie; the Stem Ginger Sponge and Sticky Orange Syrup and the Baked Rice Pudding...though I didn't make the poached plums to accompany it. All of these recipes were easy to follow and turned out really well. The Hot Chocolate Fondant Puddings are served in six individual pudding basins and so would make a great pudding if you were making a special meal for guests. The Chocolate Banoffee Pie was that great favourite of a dessert but with a slight twist. Phil has added mixed spice and cocoa powder to the usual digestive biscuit base making it a nice dark colour. In addition he includes in the toffee filling Dark Brown Soft Sugar, Treacle and melted Dark Chocolate. This makes a really interesting change to the usual Banoffee recipe, and also went down as a hit.
The Stem Ginger Sponge and Sticky Orange Syrup was sumptuous. It is basically a sponge flavoured with real Stem Ginger. Once the sponge is baked you pour over a syrup made from stem ginger, stem ginger syrup, marmalade and the zest and juice of an orange. Phil remarks that this pudding is a favourite at his house and it is now a favourite at mine.
As for the Baked Rice Pudding this was revolutionary as he cooks the pudding rice in double cream and Condensed Milk....need I say more; no wonder I never got as far as poaching the plums in Marsala. I couldn't wait to get my spoon into the creamy rice pudding and just drank the Marsala on the side!
This Chapter contains the recipes for: Marzipan Creams; Warm Raspberries with Savoy Sponge Fingers; Rose Petal Eton Mess; Vanilla Blancmange with Saffron Syrup; Decadent Chocolate and Raspberry Torte; Summer Strawberry, Mascarpone and Coconut Cheesecake; Lime and Bitter Chocolate Cheesecake; Champagne and Raisin Syllabub and Peach Custard Tart with Hazelnut Brittle.
I have made the Decadent Chocolate and Raspberry Torte; the Summer Strawberry, Mascarpone and Coconut Cheesecake and the Lime and Bitter Chocolate Cheesecake. Once again, I could find no fault with any of these recipes as the finished results were all very pleasing.
The Decadent Chocolate and Raspberry Torte is really easy to make and would be perfect for an addition to a party buffet. It consists of a base made from crushed chocolate cookies and melted butter. The topping is made from Condensed Milk, melted Dark Chocolate and Double Cream. The whole dessert is then frozen for four hours or overnight. You just remove the torte and pile it up with raspberries. That's it. Very simple to make and it looks very impressive.
The two cheesecakes I made are both non-baked cheesecakes so they are quick to make and you don't have the usual worry of the cheesecake top cracking which you have with the baked variety. The Summer Strawberry, Mascarpone and Coconut Cheesecake is glorious. It is that good I made it twice in one week. Make sure you buy strawberries that actually have a good taste if you are making this. A lot of the supermarket strawberries these days are rather tasteless and watery and you need the flavour to come through.
The Lime and Bitter Chocolate Cheesecake is the usual biscuit base, this time Phil uses crushed shortbread so you get that lovely buttery taste. The topping is Full Fat Soft Cheese mixed with Condensed Milk and the zest and juice of four limes. The topping is decorated with melted dark chocolate and lime slices simmered in a water based syrup.
ICE CREAMS AND COLD DESSERTS
This Chapter contains the recipes for: Highland Raspberries and Yoghurt Pots; Mango and Banana Trifles with Lime; Banana Fudge and Cinnamon Ice Cream; Christmas Cake and Brandy Parfait; Strawberry and Coconut Pancakes; Coffee Crème Brulees; Caramel Parfait; Lemon and Blackberry Custards and Tropical Meringues with Lemon Cream.
I haven't yet attempted any of the recipes in this Chapter. However, they share the same simplicity of the other recipes contained in this book and I'm sure I'll get round to trying them sooner rather than later. In particular the Coffee Crème Brulees look particularly appetising. Also it is good to note that you don't require an ice-cream machine to make the Banana Fudge and Cinnamon Ice Cream.
SWEETS AND TREATS
This Chapter contains recipes for: Pecan Pie; Blueberry Mallow Rocky Road; Hazelnut and Chocolate Chunk Cookies; Caramel Cakes; Cherry Berry Fruit Bars; Sticky Toffee Raisin and Rice Squares; Citrus Drizzle Pancakes; Ginger and Cherry Fudge and Bitter Chocolate and Orange Truffles.
From these recipes I have made the first four in the list. The Pecan Pie was to-die- for. Phil suggested using shop bought shortcrust pastry, or for a special dessert, make your own. The Blueberry Mallow Rocky Road is a spin on the usual Rocky Road Recipe as Phil uses blueberries and brazil nuts where you would usually use cherries and peanuts. He also makes it more of a "grown-up affair" as he make it with dark chocolate as opposed to milk chocolate. He suggests snacking on this with a cappuccino. Heaven! Imagine Fern must get this with her coffee in the morning.
The Hazelnut and Chocolate Chunk Cookies were simple to make and Phil points out that you can make the mixture up then freeze it and then simply cut off slices and bake them when you want fresh biscuits. This one is certainly a recipe I will bake and bake again.
Finally the last recipe I tried was the Caramel Cakes, these are good old Millionaire's Shortbreads in a different guise. Phil has once again made the base from crushed shortbread biscuits and butter. The toffee layer is made from butter, condensed milk and dark brown soft sugar so it has a lovely caramel flavour. Finally he tops these little beauties off with melted white chocolate. Lovely! The Sticky Toffee Raisin and Rice Squares look very tempting and these look like a good recipe to make with the kids.
Each and every one of these mouth-watering recipes has a fabulous photo of the finished article on the opposite page. This is often a something that is lacking in cookbooks these days. They often only give you photographs of selected recipes. I think this is a short-sighted economy on behalf of the publishers as it is often the photographs of the recipes that make you buy the book in the first place and make the recipes. It is always reassuring to see that your finished version of the recipe looks similar to that made by the chef. None of the recipes use outlandish ingredients, in fact most of them will be in your store-cupboard. It is 88 pages of sheer joy. I bought the hardback version at a price of £9.99 which I believe is very good value. I understand there is also a paperback version of this book available.
Phil Vickery writes a little foreword on each of the recipes, which adds a nice friendly touch. It also gives a little more information about each recipe. I always like it when a chef gives a little bit of information with each recipe, and Phil has done just that for each recipe. This makes delving into the cookbook a bit more like chatting to an old friend. For instance he tells us that he won the Chef of the Year award with his Vanilla Blancmange with Saffron Syrup. He also gives credit to the Carnation Chef for the recipe for Ginger and Cherry Fudge. The recipes are not for the diet conscious. In fact it is refreshing that this book doesn't even try to bow to the low fat, low sugar and carob brigade. Phil is obviously following the good old-fashioned advice on diet and good health - eat everything in moderation.
In conclusion this is definitely a book worth purchasing if you enjoy baking cakes and puddings. You too, can be as cheerful as Fernie!
© First published by me under the name of smilesarefree on Ciao UK on 7 April 2008.
This book covers Comfort Puds, including: Stem Ginger Sponge & Sticky Orange Syrup; Yorkshire Rhubarb Fool; Baked Rice Pudding with Marsala Poached Plums; Chocolate Banoffee Pie; Banana, Rum & Walnut Tea Loaf. It covers Posh Puddings, including: Champagne & Raisin Syllabub; Rose Petal Eton Mess; Decadent Chocolate & Raspberry Torte; Vanilla Blancmange with Saffron Syrup; Summer Strawberry, Mascarpone & Coconut Cheesecake. It covers Ice Creams & Cold Desserts, including: Caramel Parfait; Banana Fudge & Cinnamon Ice Cream; Christmas Cake & Brandy Parfait; Tropical Meringues with Lemon Cream; Coffee Creme Brulees; Mango & Banana Trifles with Lime. It covers Sweets & Treats, including: Bitter Chocolate & Orange Truffles; Ginger & Cherry Fudge; Cherry Berry Fruit Bars; Hazelnut & Chocolate Chunk Cookies; Blueberry Mallow Rocky Road; Sticky Toffee, Raisin & Rice Squares.