Raindrops on kittens, whiskers on roses, warm woollen kettles and bright copper mittens. So sang Maria Von Trapp as she neared the end of her days. Perhaps it was old age playing tricks on her mind, or maybe by that point she didn't really know her so from her do and her la from her ti. Probably, like many of us, she just liked to throw all her favourite things together to see what happens, but then realised when trying to fill the kettle she had just knitted, that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
We've all been on a night out wearing our favourite outfits with our favourite undies and felt like a supermodel on a Parisian catwalk. But we've also tried to wear our favourite summer shoes with our favourite winter coat and a wardrobe fail ensues. When I say we, I mean you ladies, because us men we don't have summer shoes. We just have shoes.
In the world of food most sensible people, apart from contestants in the early rounds of Masterchef, know that you can't just throw your favourite ingredients in a pan and hope for the best. A ribeye steak with custard? No thanks. Curry and chocolate? I don't think so. There has to be a bit of logic in there somewhere. A sweet and savoury mash up sometimes works, but most often leads to disaster.
With this in mind I have stayed in the land of desserts to create a super bionic pudding. It's a collaboration between my absolute faves- Sticky Toffee Pudding, Pear and Almond Tart, and Fruit Crumble and it's a decadent three-way that works really well.
It's the meal-ending equivalent of George and Aretha when they knew they were waiting for each other. They were drawn together through destiny...
Pear Crumble Cakes with Amaretto Toffee Sauce
90g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
100g butter, room temperature
2 eggs, beaten
A few drops of almond essence
For the poached pear
1 pear, peeled, quartered and cored
200ml white wine
4 tbsp sugar
For the crumble topping
20g cold unsalted butter, finely diced
20g Demerara sugar
To poach the pear, warm the water, wine and sugar together. Place the pear quarters in the liquid and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and leave to cool in the poaching liquid. When cool dice a couple of quarters and reserve.
To make the crumble topping, place the diced butter in a bowl with the sugar and flour. Rub in the butter until you have a mixture resembling coarse breadcrumbs. Chill.
Using an electric mixer or hand beater, cream the butter with the sugar and when pale, add the eggs little by little. Add the almonds and cornflour and combine. Add the almond essence.
Transfer the mixture to a piping pag and pipe into tulip style paper cupcake cases. Spread the mixture around to create a well in the middle. Put a teaspoon of diced pear into the well and press down.
Sprinkle crumble mixture around the pear centres on each cake then bake in the oven at 170°C for 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Amaretto Toffee Sauce
60g dark brown sugar
60g caster sugar
120ml whipping or double cream
A splash of amaretto to taste (optional)
Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the sugar. Over a low heat, stir to combine until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the amaretto if using.
To serve, pour some toffee sauce into the bottom of a bowl and set a warm cake on top. Top with a scoop of vanilla, caramel or another of your favourite ice creams.
Warning: This is a dessert with no real nutritional value. Fine to eat every now and again, but don't eat too many!