A cloud of soft meringue light as air covers a sweet pineapple cream underneath. Delicious still warm from the oven, or cold the next day. Good enough to serve to dinner guests, or as a family treat that won’t break the calorie budget.
I remember this dessert from my grandmother’s kitchen in Wales. It came from a really old falling apart recipe book that she said had come free with a bag of flour! This is an old fashioned British school pudding that to me is timeless, and I was overjoyed to discover that my version was pretty low in calories! You’ll see that I do use some regular white sugar in the meringue – it’s not off limits when you’re calorie counting! – and I feel that in meringue, using sweetener can give you that slightly fake taste and texture that I always look to avoid.
We used to have one big pudding that would serve the whole family, but I prefer these individual ones because a) you can control the portion size, b) they look quite elegant this way, and c) it’s nice to feel you don’t have to share!!
First, into a measuring jug drain the juice from the tin of crushed pineapple (you should get about half a cup if juice), set both aside for later. Preheat the oven to 175C / 350F.
In a non stick saucepan, melt the butter and remove it from the heat before it bubbles. Mix in the flour, then return to a medium-low heat to cook, stirring constantly. You don’t want the mixture to brown at all, imagine you’re trying to “dry it out”, so keep breaking it up and moving it around the pot till it almost gets a bit white at its edges. Remove from the heat and keep stirring till it cools off a little (remember, no browning wanted!)
Now take the jug of pineapple juice and add in skimmed milk to make it up to 1.5 cups of liquid. Add a small amount of milk to the saucepan, and blend it in really well working out any lumps. You may need to use a whisk. Keep adding the milk slowly and blending it in to the roux. When all the milk is incorporated, return to a gentle heat, stirring all the time until the roux thickens to coat the back of a spoon.
When the white sauce is very thick – thick enough to leave a trail in the bottom of the pan when you drag the spoon through it – remove from the heat and tip in the pineapple. Mix it through well, and now it’s time to taste it before adding 1 or 2 teaspoons of sweetener to taste. I would suggest two would be the maximum you’d want to add – don’t forget that you’ll be adding a sweet meringue to the top as well. We prefer the cream to be not too sweet at all, taking the sweetness more from the pineapple. Now divide the cream between 4 oven-safe ramekins and place them on a baking tray.
Now its time to make the meringue topping. In a large mixing bowl, put 70g of egg whites. I used egg whites from a carton, because I had some to hand and it meant not wasting a yolk. In my grandmother’s recipe, she’d add the yolk to the pineapple cream for added richness, but you won’t miss it if it’s not there, and I’d rather not increase the calorie count. Whisk the egg whites till they’re foamy and have doubled in volume. Now sprinkle over 2 teaspoons of regular white sugar a little at a time, whisking between each addition. When stable peaks have formed, and the meringue is glossy, divide it on top of the 4 pudding bowls. Gently spread it to the edges and use the spoon to shape peaks in the top. Sprinkle over half a teaspoon of regular white sugar between the four puddings (literally a tiny pinch of sugar on each is sufficient).
Bake at for about 10 to 15 mins till the meringue is golden, crisp and shining. You can eat them straight away, or slightly cooled, or even refrigerate them and have them cold the next day. Let me know what you think!
RECIPE: Pineapple Pudding
Makes 4 individual servings at 160 calories per serving, or one large dish
- 15g (2 teaspoons) butter
- 30g (1 level tablespoon) All Purpose (Plain) Flour
- One 398ml tin of crushed pineapple in pineapple juice (the juice drained into a measuring jug)
- 1.5 cups (350ml) of liquid made up of the pineapple juice from the tin and skimmed milk
- 2 teaspoons granulated white sugar substitute
- 70g egg white
- 3 tsp regular white sugar
- Preheat the oven to 175C/350F , and get ready with 4 oven-safe ramekins on a baking sheet.
- Drain the juice from the tin into a measuring jug, and add skimmed milk to the jug to make up the volume to 1.5cups / 350ml. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan, then remove from the heat before it bubbles.
- Add the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon, till the mixture looks like soggy breadcrumbs. Return the saucepan to a medium-low heat to cook the flour and butter – stir all the time and do not allow the mixture to brown! Once it’s cooked, after about 4-5 minutes, the edges of the crumble will look white and dry. Remove from the heat.
- Now slowly add the milk/juice liquid a little at a time, blending really well to stir out any lumps. Once all the liquid is incorporated, return to a low heat and stir constantly till it thickens. Be patient!
- Once the white sauce is really thick – thick enough to leave an empty trail in the bottom of the pan when you drag the spoon through it – remove from the heat and stir in the pineapple.
- Taste the pineapple cream, and add 1 – 2 teaspoons of white sugar substitute – be sparing… the cream shouldn’t be too sugary sweet, rather it should be sweet from the pineapple.
- Divide the cream into the four ramekins (or into one large dish if you prefer). Set aside.
- Now make the meringue for the top of the puddings. Place the egg whites into a large mixing bowl. Whisk till frothy and doubled in volume.
- Gradually add 2 teaspoons of regular white sugar a little at a time, whisking well between each addition.
- Once the meringue is glossy and has formed stable peaks, divide it on top of the four ramekins and gently ease it to the edges, creating peaks and troughs with a spoon.
- Sprinkle a pinch of regular white sugar to the top of each pudding (half a teaspoon is plenty to do for all four), and bake in the middle of the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, or just until the meringue is lightly golden, crisp and shiny.
- Serve right away while still hot, or let rest till room temperature, or even refrigerate and eat cold (but if cold, the meringue will be a little less crispy, but still good!)