By pudding I don't just mean a rich and heavy steamed pudding, although in some weathers such a creation may be just what you feel like, I mean anything sweet or fruity served at the end of a meal. Puddings, like all baking, are not about survival, or even good nutrition - I think puddings are really about love. After all, if a person takes the trouble to make you a delicious pudding, you can be pretty sure they love you.

My father often recalled a creamy rice pudding which his mother left to cook very slowly overnight in the coal range on the farm; it was his idea of heaven. And my theory is that people who have a horror of these sorts of simple puddings often associate them with boarding schools, where they were ruined by institutional cooks. I agree with my father - the perfect rice pudding is a treasure. As small children we enjoyed pudding most nights of the week - Lemon Delicious and Chocolate Fudge Pudding were particular favourites and junket less so, although I have learned to love it as an adult. Puddings may be a more occasional pleasure today, but the memory of our mother's answer to our regular question 'What's for pudding?' lives on. She always said with a smile: 'Wait and see . . .' And her puddings were invariably worth waiting for.

  • Bitter Chocolate Roll

    Bitter Chocolate Roll

    I found this recipe in a mad little book called 'Cooking for Brides' by Ted Moloney, published in 1965, and given to me recently by a friend in Balclutha, Joan Hasler. Mr Moloney's instructions are... More »

  • Pineapple Meringue Shortcake

    Pineapple Meringue Shortcake

    Two layers of shortcake with meringue topping, are sandwiched together with poached pineapple and whipped cream - the bottom layer goes meringue-side down on the plate and the top layer, with the slivered almonds, meringue-side... More »

  • Date Chocolate Torte

    Date Chocolate Torte

    This brilliant cake is like a large version of the special meringues found in most community recipe books. Simply by folding chopped dates, nuts and chocolate through a basic meringue mix you can produce a... More »

  • Coconut Blancmange

    Coconut Blancmange

    In the 1999 Oxford Companion to Food Charles Perry defines Blancmange as 'an Anglicization of the French blanc manger (white food), now means a sweet, jellied dessert made from milk and cornflour, to which flavour... More »

  • Strawberry Sorbet with Strawberry Syrup

    Strawberry Sorbet with Strawberry Syrup

    From 'Sweets and Desserts from the Middle East' (1984) by Arto der Haroutunian, who describes this unusual yoghurt-based sorbet as an Armenian favourite. The egg white and gelatine give the sorbet an almost marshmallow texture... More »

  • Little Prune Souffl├ęs

    Little Prune Souffl├ęs

    A friend gave me this recipe many years ago and I imagined it was his invention, but like most good recipes, it seems to have evolved, rather than being the creation of a single inspired... More »

  • Chocolate Fudge Pudding

    Chocolate Fudge Pudding

    Now this is definitely not a chocolate extravaganza. Made from simple ingredients it is a modest pudding which will bake away gently as you eat your main course and it is a New Zealand favourite.... More »

  • Rhubarb Crumble

    Rhubarb Crumble

    When I asked friends to tell me about their favourite puddings, apple or rhubarb crumble was always on the list. There are many possible crumble toppings - some include rolled oats or nuts or coconut... More »

  • Tamarillo Shortcake

    Tamarillo Shortcake

    Tender fruit enclosed between two layers of soft, sweet shortcake - this is another old fashioned favourite and always a welcome pudding. Leftovers can be served cold with a cup of tea the next day.... More »

  • Feijoa Mousse

    Feijoa Mousse

    Given to me by Janina Adamiak about 30 years ago, this recipe comes into its own at the end of summer when feijoas are falling everywhere. Pineapple juice seems an appropriate inclusion since feijoas are... More »

  • Spanish Cream

    Spanish Cream

    This is a lovely simple pudding which appears in almost every early New Zealand recipe book. It is a silky custard set with gelatine and with beaten egg white folded through so that the custard... More »

  • Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding

    Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding

    This was the most loved pudding of my childhood and my mother didn't make it very often, so it was a special treat. Myra Lawrie's very light recipe is made from equal weights of butter,... More »

  • Ambrosia


    Ambrosia is what the gods ate on Mount Olympus apparently, and they didn't leave us their recipe. My father, however, always knew that the true ambrosia was slow-cooked rice pudding and he developed a great... More »