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Butter a 1.2 litre/2 pint pudding basin and put a circle of greaseproof paper in the base. Put the apricots in a small pan and add the brandy. Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer, turning the apricots occasionally until all the brandy has soaked in. Leave until cool enough to handle.
Tip the ground almonds into a bowl, then sift over the cocoa, flour and baking powder and mix everything together.
In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar together for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.Gradually beat in the eggs and milk.
Chop half the apricots into small pieces. Chop the chocolate into large chunks. Lightly stir the flour mixture into the cake mix, followed by the apricots and chocolate.
Put the remaining whole apricots into the bowl and spoon over the honey. Add the pudding mixture and smooth the top. Cover with double thickness buttered greaseproof paper and tie down. Trim off the excess paper, then overwrap in foil, tucking the ends under the edges of the paper.
Put the basin into a large pan and pour boiling water into the pan, to come halfway up the sides of the basin. Cover and steam for 21⁄2 hours, until it feels firm. (The pudding can be made to this stage up to 2 days ahead. Reheat by steaming for 1 hour, or microwave on medium for 6-8 minutes.)
Towards the end of the cooking time, make the sauce. Break up the chocolate and put in a small pan with the cream and brandy if using. Warm gently, stirring lightly until smooth and glossy.
Cool the pudding in the bowl for 10 minutes, then turn out and serve with the chocolate sauce and cream or good vanilla ice cream.