A Family Story About Biscuit Pudding
Our family has always been into desserts. Anything sweet really. Anything food. Hence what has become ‘CBP’ today was known as ‘Gateaux’ in our household courtesy my aunt Manique who jazzed it upto a level that I have not seen even today. This was a good 20 years ago.
So, this famed gateaux consisted of course of the base of CBP which is Marie biscuits and icing. But the icing was coffee laced with loads of alcohol – brandy or rum. The biscuits were soaked in milk with brandy or rum and in between these delectable layers she would strew cut up bits of ginger preserve and pumpkin preserve. These two were added she claimed for texture, a touch of spice through the ginger and of course her love for pumpkin preserve in all its white saccharine sweet splendor. She would also add chopped cashewnuts .This monster of a creation was made in my grandmother’s cut glass bowl which was a good 6 inches deep. Into the icing, she would mix in cream or egg, depending on her mood. She would pair this monster of a pudding with a bitter, dark chocolate sauce that was hot compared to the icy cold pudding. The dark chocolate sauce consisted of milkmaid, chocolate, coffee and butter and again topped up with a generous serving of whichever alcohol available. Making the bitter chocolate sauce was my duty which I took great pride in. This creation was decadence personified. A true marvel of greed, richness and generosity. It was her gift to friends at dinner parties and big family functions. But it was also a gift to herself and of herself. My aunt never claimed to be a great cook. She just loved food. And food lovers are the best chefs for they honestly understand that inherent tug of greed which allows for one to add in that touch of decadence that makes it all so good and special. This was the epitome of such.
My aunt had many admirers. Among them women who were enamoured by her and one such person was a Mrs. Khaleel. Now Mrs. Khaleel was a fab cook. She would make a chocolate biscuit pudding with layers of fresh pineapple woven into the biscuit and icing layers. It brought memories of the Green Cabin Pineapple gateaux but was way better. I used to greedily wait for Mrs. Khaleel’s generosity because the biscuit pudding was one of my favourites.
With all these memories, I decided to try my hand at biscuit pudding at home in memory of my aunt. I tried out a mocha (nothing to match the decadence of the gateaux) and a chocolate with pineapple.
Mocha Biscuit Pudding
For this I used a regular butter icing base and included coffee and some brandy – a Napoleon which is very good. I soaked the biscuits in warm milk and brandy and layered a medium ramekin with the icing and biscuits. On top I sprinkled toasted cashewnuts and added in a few maraschino cherries. Yes the cherries are fake but they are a favourite of mine. It tasted pretty darn good.
Chocolate Pineapple Biscuit Pudding
For this I used a chocolate butter icing base. For the cocoa I used an imported one coz I find our local ones are not chocolatey enough. I added in a good dash of brandy – again Napoleon. For the biscuits, again I soaked them in warm milk with brandy and layered a medium ramekin with biscuits and icing but I also included bits of pineapple in between. Ideally use fresh pineapple and soak it with some alcohol. No need of stewing the pineapple as it’s sweet on its own. Then on top I strewed toasted cashews, bits of pineapple and the maraschino cherries. This was pretty divine too.
Since then I have tried out a lemon vodka and arrack pineapple. Those two still need tweaking but I like getting creative with biscuit pudding. Sadly, Sri Lanka for all its boasting of biscuit pudding from a plethora of vendors, has little in terms of variety when it comes to this age old dessert. Instead everyone is on some chocolate with something run. There is so much more experimenting that needs to be done – I hope to see this creativity in the near future.