Neither of the predictable answers are funny but, inexcusably, I’ve laughed at both of them although, on one of those occasions, laughter was eminently excusable as the riddle was recounted by Lee Mack who is clever enough and, more importantly, funny enough to make a crap riddle or a riddle about crap funny. Should the crap riddle have been modified to include the phrase “..and impossible to get enough of”, then the pudding in the picture, let’s forget proper names, would be the ultimate and unpaired unriddling. I dislike riddles and have never understood how it is that sarcasm has been denounced as the lowest form of wit; it can only be that Pun and Riddle didn’t turn up on the day of the show or that they bribed Simon Cowell to give Sarcasm the thumbs down by giving him an overflowing punnet of riddles so that he might not appear as a self satisfied narcissist with no sense…….oops, left out humour…as has he. How is it that I have been led down this vituperative lane when my intentions were to share with you my delight at discovering this luscious pudding? That was purely rhetorical as I am only too clear as to how this has happened…..”squidgy”, the addition of the word “squidgy” in the recipe title of this outstanding pudding. Why? Chocolate and pear pudding would be a good name whereas squidgy chocolate and pear pudding takes us to the birthplace of English cooking ,,,,the fucking nursery. It never fails to surprise me that so many cookery writers feel that their public should be treated like infants, using multiple yummys, gooeys and squidgy widgys to make us open wide for the choo choo train…..I am hyperbolising but, in culinary terms, laying it on thickly was necessary.
Pudding was on my mind and, having a pair of Bosc pears sitting listlessly in the fruit bowl and knowing how quickly a pear can metamorphose from perfect to far from perfect, it was to be a pudding with pears..and chocolate. Internet research with the two key words led me quickly to this recipe which, apart from having Squidgy as a christian name, had the misfortune of including tinned pears in the list of ingredients. Maybe I’m a fool for not foreseeing a dystopian future when the fruit bowl will be piled high with tins of pineapple chunks and pears in syrup but I freely confess that I have not owned a tin of pears since I was at boarding school in the 50’s..which makes me remember how usual it was for children to carry around knives and how low was the rate of attrition save to tins of fruit and condensed milk. Poaching fresh pears in home made sugar syrup flavoured with vanilla is a pleasure both visually and sensually. It’s important that the pears stay submerged in the syrup and are not exposed to the air during the poaching process so it’s wise to lay a disc of baking parchment or grease proof paper, with a small hole cut in the middle to allow steam to escape, over the poaching pears. Collapsed pears are not what one is looking for so care in timing is essential. The resulting drained pears are far superior to those from a tin. Here’s the recipe, which I have taken from the BBC Good Food website and made the adjustment from tinned to fresh pears and reduced the amount of chocolate….pace Barney Demazery.
Pear and Chocolate pudding
300gms golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
75gm plain flour
50gm cocoa powder
4 firm pears, peeled, quartered and poached
50gms plain dark chocolate ( at least 70% cocoa solids)
25gms flaked almonds (optional)
- Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Lightly grease a roughly 20 x 30cm shallow ovenproof dish. Put the butter in a large saucepan and place over a low heat until just melted. Remove the butter from the heat and stir in the sugar until well combined.
- Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl. Gradually add the eggs to the butter and sugar, beating well with a wooden spoon in between each addition. Sift the flour and cocoa powder on top of the egg mixture, then beat hard with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.
- Pour into the prepared tin or dish and nestle the pears into the chocolate batter. Put the chocolate on a board and cut into chunky pieces roughly 1.5cm with a large knife. Scatter the chocolate pieces over the batter and sprinkle with almonds, if you like. Can be frozen at this stage.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 mins or until the mixture is crusty on the surface and lightly cooked inside. Do not allow to overcook, as the cake will become spongy rather than gooey in the centre. Serve warm with cream or ice cream