There are desserts and then there are puddings. Puddings transcend the realms of ‘sweet course that ends a meal’, to occupy a higher food plane, one that warms you from within and leaves you deeply comforted.
Often, the urge for pudding comes at unexpected times after an evening meal, on those nights when a pang for ‘something sweet’ takes hold.
To serve those emergency situations, we’ve not only rounded up our most comforting puddings, but our choices are all ready in under an hour (in some cases, less than 20 minutes).
But beyond that – because we are truly committed to last-minute pudding problem-solving – we’ve picked recipes with minimum ingredients, some of which use common storecupboard staples like tinned fruit and ready-made cheats.
So put on your comfies, plant yourself on the sofa and bring on the hug-in-a-bowl – here are our top 10 most warming pudding recipes that are guaranteed to hit the spot.
Coconut, rum & raisin rice pudding
We love rice pudding on many levels, not least the whimsical nostalgia factor. This dish is also one of the most inclusive on our list, being gluten-free when so many puds are flour-based. While we love a bowl of tinned rice pudding with a dollop of jam, this deluxe version takes it to another level. The base includes butter, coconut milk and double cream, all perked up with a rum syrup. Serve hot or cold.
Continuing the retro theme, behold our traditional peach cobbler. To make this 50-minute fruity feast, bake tinned peaches with spice before topping them with dollops of cinnamon dough. Bake until the scone-like topping is golden. Serve hot from the oven with ice cream.
Squidgy chocolate pear pudding
A woefully-underused canned fruit, pear halves are a top shortcut ingredient. Turn this unassuming staple into something truly special in our squidgy, saucy, baked chocolate pudding. The secret to success is not overbaking it – follow the cooking instructions to the letter. If it’s left in the oven for too long, it’ll end up a sponge rather than the desired gooey pud.
Is there a more definitive comforting pudding than the crumble? Easy, budget-friendly and great in all seasons, our star crumble has to be a classic apple. Our best ever apple crumble uses Bramley apples, which are easily available year-round and one of the most affordable fruits going. The classic crumble topping is souped-up with sugared, rolled oats. We like ours with clotted cream and warm custard, preferably at the same time.
Sticky toffee pudding
If you always order sticky toffee pudding when it’s on the menu in a restaurant, our cheat’s version will fill you with joy. The secret ingredient is, unashamedly, ready-made chocolate muffins. Crumble the cake and mix with sultanas before packing the mix into buttered ramekins and warming through. The STP sauce is made by combining muscovado sugar, butter and cream in a pan. The recipe requires only 15 minutes of your time. Sold.
Golden syrup dumplings
A simple dessert that has all the right numbers attached – five ingredients, 15 minutes prep time and 15 minutes to cook. The dumplings are made with golden syrup and are cooked in a sugar water solution enriched with yet more golden syrup. A saccharine explosion with textbook stodge factor.
Gluten-free self-saucing chocolate pudding
A few simple swaps make this indulgent dessert completely gluten-free. While it contains less common ingredients like xanthan gum, buckwheat and gluten-free flour, the technique is very straightforward. Just mix the wet ingredients with the dry ones, scrape into a baking dish then top with a liquid chocolate mix that miraculously transforms into a glossy sauce at the bottom of the dish once cooked.
Banana bread and butter pudding
Classic bread and butter pudding can be a labour of love involving many egg yolks, furious whisking and long cooking times. Our low-maintenance banana bread and butter pudding may not be for purists, but for busy families in need of a quick sweet fix, this recipe fits the bill. It’s made in the microwave and takes just 10 minutes to prepare and another 10 to cook.
Easy treacle sponge
If you want all the flavour of steamed pudding without the hassle of boiling a basin mix, this baked version of a school dinner classic is for you. It’s made using everyday baking ingredients you’re likely to have in the cupboard. Serve with your cream accompaniment of choice, drizzled with extra golden syrup for the win.
Lemon & raspberry doughnut pudding
If you’re of the opinion that doughnuts are indulgent enough on their own, look away now. This genius bake combines shop-bought jam doughnuts with ready-made custard, lemon curd and fruit. This is a bit of an outlier as it takes a shade over an hour to be ready – but it’s so ingeniously easy, we’re sure you’ll forgive us.
More pudding recipes
What’s your favourite comfort food pudding? Share your recipes in the comments below.