Warm panettone, sour cherry & almond pudding
This isn’t necessarily the most beautiful-looking dessert in the world but it tastes truly wonderful. Please don’t worry if you can’t find sour cherries, it’s also perfectly delicious made with natural sultanas or raisins, and I imagine dried cranberries would be rather good too.
Makes 10 smallish serves, as it’s rather rich.
190g dried sour cherries
¼ cup (60ml) #amaretto
¼ cup (60ml) marsala
150g caster sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
350g panettone (brioche is terrific too), cut into 2.5 cm chunks
150g slivered almonds, roasted
Icing sugar, for dusting
Pure cream or good vanilla ice cream, to serve
(# If you would rather not buy both the amaretto and marsala as it can get a bit expensive, you can just use ½ cup (125ml) of one or the other.)
Preheat your oven to 170C. Butter a large, reasonably shallow ovenproof dish and set it aside. (I use a white square baking dish which has sides that flare out – it’s approx 20cm across the base, 30cm across the top and 6cm deep.).
Put the dried cherries into a bowl and pour in the Amaretto and Marsala. Stir them together then set the bowl aside while you get on with the recipe.
Break the eggs into a large bowl. Add the caster sugar and use a balloon whisk to thoroughly mix the two together until they’re well combined, then gently whisk in the cream, milk and vanilla.
Now add the panettone chunks to the egg mixture, along with the dried cherries and their soaking liquid, and most of the slivered almonds. Stir everything gently together. Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared dish (it splashes a bit so be careful – I invariably end up splattered with it) then scatter the reserved almond slivers over the top. (I always feel the almonds add such a lot to this pudding – not only their warm, toasty flavour but a welcome textural contrast too.)
Bake the pudding for about 50 minutes, or until it’s just set but still feels a bit wobbly in the middle – the time may vary quite a bit depending on the size and depth of dish you use. To make quite sure it’s ready, insert the tip of a fine knife into the middle of the pudding and gently separate the two sides of the cut, they should look creamy and just set, and no liquid should flow into the cut. (By the way, as it bakes, the pudding tends to darken quite quickly, so keep an eye on it and sit a sheet of foil loosely on the top once it’s a good deep brown.).
When it’s ready, remove the pudding from the oven and sit it on a wire rack. It will be puffed up and beautiful at this stage, but sadly it sinks somewhat as it cools. Dust the top with icing sugar, then leave the pudding to settle for at least 20 minutes before serving. (I know it’s tempting to take it to the table whilst it’s puffed up and gorgeous, however it really is too hot to eat at this stage, and the flavour is so much better if it’s warm.).
I usually dollop this out at the table (in smallish serves, as it’s rather rich), and pass around a jug of cream or bowl of vanilla ice cream.