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Irish cooks inspired by Continental puddings


Recipes | By Margaret M. Johnson

Even devoted Irish cooks have discovered panettone, a rich Italian Christmas cake that’s sold in markets and specialty stores both here and in Ireland. The cake, which comes from the northern Italian city of Milan and whose name translates to “big loaf,” is a large, dome-shaped cake that’s been leavened with yeast. Light and airy in texture, rich and buttery in taste, the not-too-sweet cake is studded with dried fruits like the ones found in an Irish fruit cake. Its strongest rival for most popular Italian holiday dessert is pandoro, a Veronese Christmas cake whose name translates to “golden bread” because of its distinctive buttery color. Pandoro is traditionally a star-shaped cake that’s served dusted with powdered sugar. Now that Christmas is behind us, the cakes are on sale (or will be soon), so grab as many as you can to take the place of traditional sandwich bread in bread and butter pudding and sponge cake in fruit-filled trifles. I bought a few this week with “best before” dates of August 2020 — no New Year’s diet in sight — and look forward to using them in the coming months in recipes like these.

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1 panettone (see Note)

8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

8 tablespoons lemon curd

5 large eggs

2 cups heavy (whipping) cream

1 cup sugar

Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter eight (6 ounce) ramekins.

  2. Cut panettone into 8 slices. Spread each slice with 1 tablespoon butter and then spread with lemon curd. Cut each slice into squares and divide among the ramekins.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, and sugar. Spoon mixture over bread and then press down gently. Let puddings rest for 5 to 10 minutes and then spoon any remaining egg mixture over to be sure the bread is soaked.

  4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until puddings are risen and tops are lightly browned. Remove from oven, run a knife around edge of the ramekins to loosen; transfer to serving plates. Serve with ice cream, if desired.





Sherry Trifle, also known as Tipsy Pudding, is a popular Irish dessert. While the basic elements remain — wine or sherry-soaked cake, custard, fruit, and cream — over time, this pudding has accommodated other ingredients ranging from chocolate and Irish whiskey to poached pears and, in this recipe, golden pandoro and mascarpone whipped cream. Assemble the trifle in a traditional straight-sided crystal bowl or in individual parfait or dessert glasses.

Whipped cream

2 1/2 cups heavy (whipping) cream

1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons sherry or dark rum


1 pandoro (see Note)

2/3 cup raspberry or strawberry preserves

3 cups fresh berries

Slivered almonds, for topping

  1. Make whipped cream. In a medium bowl, beat cream, mascarpone, sugar and sherry with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.

  2. Make filling. Cut pandoro into 8 to 10 slices; spread each slice with preserves. Cut each slice into cubes.

  3. To assemble, in a trifle dish, make three layers of pandoro cubes, berries, and cream; top with almonds. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

Note: Panettone and pandoro vary in size depending on the producer. Cut slices to suit the recipe; wrap the rest and use within a few days or freeze. “Best before” dates are for unopened boxes.





For another bread pudding “with a difference,” try croissants, a gift from our French friends. This recipe suggests toasted croissants and fresh blueberries, but you can substitute dried fruits like raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries, and chopped apricots.


6 large croissants, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 cups fresh blueberries

3 large eggs

2 cups heavy (whipping) cream

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 vanilla bean

2 tablespoons slivered almonds

Lemon Curd Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons lemon curd

  1. Make pudding. Preheat oven to 375° F. Coat an 8-inch baking dish with butter flavored cooking spray.

  2. Spread croissants out on a baking sheet and bake, turning once or twice, for about 10 minutes, or until toasted. Remove from oven; let cool. Transfer to prepared dish, add blueberries, and toss to distribute.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape out seeds, and stir them into eggs mixture. Pour over croissants and let stand for 30 minutes, pressing down with a spatula to make sure croissants absorbs liquid. Sprinkle with almonds.

  4. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F. Place baking dish in a large baking pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of the dish. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until pudding is set and top is browned. Remove baking dish from water bath and let cool for a few minutes on a wire rack.

  5. Make whipped cream. In a chilled bowl, beat cream and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add lemon curd and beat until blended.


Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page expands this year to “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” Her newest cookbook, "Teatime in Ireland," will be available soon! For further details on her work or to order a signed cookbook, visit