The Editor has ants in his pants and I wonder why. Do you think it could be because of lack of sleep? You have heard that he has recently become a father? Anyway, he has been at me about those of you who have a sweet tooth. Of course you were not forgotten. I would have got around to you eventually, even if I do not share your enthusiasm for sweet things.
However, I do love making puddings, which more than any other food provide an opportunity to exercise one’s artistic flair. Presentation is the secret here, if you want to deliver the wow factor.
Continental gateau is a recipe handed down by my late mother-in-law. In the 50s and 60s, she was a cook ahead of her time and, for example, West of the Shannon had Elizabeth David on a pedestal long before that famous author of recipe books became a household name. This pudding is easy to make, requires no cooking and can be prepared in advance. It is guaranteed to produce the noises of appreciation, which are so characteristic of those whose dinner only begins with “the afters” ! My mother-in-law found the recipe in some newspaper and it has now been a favourite in the family for three generations.
120g caster sugar
120g ground almonds
2 tbls strong coffee
1 glass sherry
250g boudoir biscuits
150m whipped cream
cherries and chopped almonds to garnish (optional)
The only out-of-the-ordinary ingredient here is the boudoir biscuits. They are plain, sweet, finger biscuits about 8cm in length and they can be bought in any reasonably good supermarket.
Cream the butter and sugar and beat in the egg yolk. Add a third of the milk, the ground almonds and coffee and beat until smooth. Mix the sherry into the remaining milk and dip the biscuits into this mixture.
This is the only place that you can go wrong. The biscuits must absorb the liquid but must not be so soft that you can’t lift them on to a rectangular plate (if available), there, you create “a log” with a layer of four biscuits across and three down. On this foundation, spread about 1/3 of the creamed almond mixture.
Place more biscuits on top and continue finishing with the creamed almond mixture on top. Wrap in cling film or tin foil and refrigerate for several hours before covering with the whipped cream and garnishing with the chopped almonds and cherries. I guarantee that there will be no leftovers.