Apricots and prunes have a natural affinity for each other. One is rich, sticky and sweet, almost toffee-like . . . the other plump and almost tart . . . and in it's dried state . . . nicely chewy, almost leathery. Steep them in some tea or sherry . . . and they take on an almost angelic texture . . . most satisfyingly moreish.
They quite simply . . . belong together . . . much like Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy . . .
I love puddings . . . that is what they call dessert over here . . . pudding . . . It's one of the things that I love most about this country . . . these different little words and phrases that are used to describe the ordinary. This word "pudding" has such a deliciously beckoning sound . . . much more so than "dessert," don't you think???
Or maybe it is just because I am from away. It just sounds so very proper . . . so very British. Just saying the word makes me feel like an beautiful Austinish heroine . . . hiking across the wind swept moors in the company of an equally handsome gentleman . . . of high rank and civility of course, the chaperone trailing behind in our wake. Most proper . . . indeed.
"I could not be happy with a man whose taste did not in every point coincide with my own. He must enter into all my feelings; the same books, the same music must charm us both." ~Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility
I would like to propose here that it would also be quite impossible to be happy with a man who didn't enjoy a good pudding . . . a properly delicious pudding . . . a pudding which strokes your sense and sensibilities . . . and makes you sigh with delight. (every pun intended . . . )
Nothing does that more than an individual pudding, perfectly sized just for you . . . as it were always meant just for you, no sharing allowed . . . oh well . . . perchance you could share a small bite, but that's all . . . let's not be totally greedy.
These are the perfect pudding. Light, buttery and moist, with just a hint of spice. Stogged full of lovely, jewel-like, almost soporific . . . tender chunks of sherry steeped apricots and prunes . . . lightly blanketed in a not too rich or decadent, but utterly sublime . . . butterscotch sauce, with just a merest hint of lemon flavor . . .
Perfect for a showery, grey and very autumnal day in late September . . .and most especially perfect for indulging in after a long walk in the cool autumn air . . . and most certainly to be enjoyed along with a certain gentleman of the utmost repute.
"A man does not recover from such devotion of the heart to such a woman! he ought not; he does not."
Captain Frederick Wentworth, Persuasion
*Apricot & Prune Puddings with a Lemon & Butterscotch Sauce*
Delicious little cakes, buttery and moist and stogged full of chopped apricots and prunes, served with a creamy butterscotch flavoured sauce.
5 ready to eat prunes, coarsely chopped
5 ready to eat dried apricots, coarsely chopped
2 TBS medium-dry sherry
120g of unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup)
5 1/2 TBS light Muscovado sugar, packed (can use soft light brown in a pinch)
6 TBS golden caster sugar (unrefined fine sugar)
2 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
120g self raising flour (1 cup)
For the sauce:
50g of softened butter (3 1/2 TBS)
50g of light muscovado sugar (4 TBS packed)
50g of golden syrup (2 1/2 TBS)
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
fresh lemon juice to taste (approximately 1/2 lemon)
125ml of double cream (1/2 cup heavy cream)
Preheat the oven to 16-*C/325*F/ gas mark 3. Butter and flour 4 individual sized pudding basins, or ramekins, each holding about 1 cup. Tap out any excess flour. Set onto a baking tray.
Put the chopped fruits into a small bowl along with the sherry to macerate. Set aside.
Cream together the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, a bit at a time until thoroughly amalgamated. If the mixture starts to split or curdle, beat in a bit of the flour. Whisk together the flour and cinnamon. Fold this into the creamed mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the macerated fruit along with any juices. Divide the mixture evenly between the 4 prepared pudding basins. (Don't fill any more than 2/3 full) Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly touched.
To make the sauce, gently heat the butter, sugar, and syrup over medium low heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Whisk in the vanilla paste and remove from the heat. Whisk in the lemon juice to taste. Whisk in the cream. Set aside and keep warm.
Tip the puddings out into individual pudding bowls while still warm. (Run a thin knife around the edges of them, flip them upside down over the bowls and gently tap. They should slip right out if you have buttered and floured them properly.) Spoon a bit of the warm sauce over each and serve immediately.