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Buone Feste a Tutti & Happy Holidays!!! I trust you all had a Very Merry Christmas. To all my Friends & Family in South Africa – I missed you all so much remembering the delightful celebrations we amassed over the Christmas holidays, I wish I could have been there. I stayed away from social media on Christmas Day because it was busy for me as I’m sure it was for every designated cook in every family worldwide who had guests coming over. My thoughts however, were not far way from our beautiful country, so much so that I had to include one of South Africa’s favourite puddings in the dessert course at my Christmas dinner party.

Malva pudding has to be one of SA’s best loved puds and just one mouthful has the magic to transport you to happy days if you’re missing your family back home. It’s comfort food to warm you from the bitter cold, it’s sweet, sticky and rich. Very terribly, deliciously, buttery, sweetly rich – perfect for a winter Christmas dessert.

Traditional Malva pudding is made with apricot jam but I wanted a Festive Malva Pudding so I replaced the apricot jam with honey and for that distinctive Christmassy flavour I’ve added cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to the flour mix. I boozed the sauce with generous splashes of a 2009 Passito made in Sudtirol, a region on the border of Italy and Austria, and served this heart-warming creation with coconut ice-cream. Usually the sauce is generously poured over the hot pudding so it soaks in well to form a moist sponge. I however chose to cut the pudding into slices and right before serving I ladled the warm sauce over each slice which softened the ice-cream for the perfect balance between hot and cold.

The guests were speechless! Apparently these Italians have never eaten a Malva pudding before and could not get over it. It was all very unexpected for me, as much as I love this pudding I never imagined that a humble dessert such as this would bring so much joy to everyone. At the end of the dessert course my brother in law Alberto exclaimed, “Sono pieno e molto felice” – I’m full and I’m very, very happy!

And that for me, was more than enough! That’s what this season is all about isn’t it? Making people happy with these little but big gifts of love. It’s these precious moments when we gather together and make merry with friends and family that will forever be etched in our most cherished memories. And of course all of that is never truly complete without a sweet to seal in the happiness!

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  • 200g castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 170g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 115ml milk
  • 1 tbs vinegar
  • 30g butter
For the Sauce
  • 250 ml fresh cream
  • 120g butter
  • 50g muscavado sugar (or substitute with brown sugar)
  • 100 ml Passito (or substitute with Muscadel)
  1. Preheat oven to 170° gas fan / 190°C electric fan / 210°C conventional.
  2. Grease a 16cm souffle dish.
  3. Sift flour, bicarb and salt. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and clove powder, mix to combine and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl add sugar, honey, and eggs and whisk until pale and double in volume.
  5. Melt butter. Add milk and vinegar to butter and set aside.
  6. Add half of the flour into the sugar mixture and beat until combined.
  7. Repeat this step for the remaining flour.
  8. Pour in the milk mixture and incorporate all the ingredients together by beating well.
  9. Pour batter into greased soufflé dish and place in the centre rack of the oven.
  10. Bake for 40 minutes until sticky and golden.
  11. For the sauce heat all ingredients until the butter has melted and remove from heat when hot but not boiling.
  12. At this point you may pour the sauce over or ladle the sauce on each individual serving.
  13. Serve hot with vanilla custard or ice cream.