Saturday, October 16, 2010

Wartime Chocolate Pudding

Prof Kitty from The Cabinet of Prof. Kitty returns to host this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I'm looking at carrots.

carrots© by Haalo

They really are a kitchen staple - I don't know what I'd do without them. They are the soul of so many Italian dishes as one of the trilogy of ingredients that go into the soffritto but did you know that they were also used as replacement for sugar during the war as sugar was a rationed item.

This little fact I discovered while watching a most fascinating series called The Wartime Kitchen and Garden. One of the dishes shown in the program got my attention as soon as I saw it - it was from one of the many cookbooks produced during the war called The Kitchen Front - a recipe for Wartime Chocolate Pudding

In the original recipe margarine was used as butter was a rationed item and left for more special occasions. Sugar was also rationed and in this recipe, only 1 ounce is used - grated carrot and golden syrup bring the sweetness to the dish. Cocoa powder is used to provide the chocolate hit.

It is a remarkably simple and modest recipe but having made it, it's a dish worthy of any occasion - a celebration of creativity and ingenuity in difficult times.

wartime chocolate pudding© by Haalo

Wartime Chocolate Pudding
[Makes 2 small puddings]

240 grams flour
1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

2 ounces/50 grams softened butter
1 ounce/25 grams sugar
1 regular carrot, grated (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons golden syrup
vanilla essence
1-2 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder
½ pint/285mls milk, approx

Sift the flour, bicarb and baking powder together and place in a bowl. Set aside.

In another bowl, place the softened butter and sugar and beat until light and creamy. Beat in the grated carrot, followed by the golden syrup and vanilla essence. Add the sifted ingredients and the cocoa powder - stir, adding enough milk to form a soft, spoonable batter.

Liberally butter two 2-cup pudding bowls.

Divide the batter evenly into the bowls - cover with baking paper and secure with string or a silicon band.

wartime chocolate pudding© by Haalo

Put the puddings into a steamer and steam for about 40-50 minutes or until cooked through. You can make one large pudding but they will take much longer to steam - you're looking at around 2 hours.

Before turning out, make sure the edges have loosened from the bowl - the pudding should have a springy almost sponge like texture.

wartime chocolate pudding© by Haalo

For a good English pudding, you've got to serve it with either custard or some really thick cream.


A peek inside shows the carrots have pretty much been absorbed into the pudding - you certainly wouldn't know they were in there even if you were told. The golden syrup gives depth to the pudding, adding slightly smoky notes to the dish.


  1. I'm always astounded by this type of thing - not because it's unusual in my family, but because I guess the austerity thing from wartime got passed down from my gran to my Mom and that's how she taught US to bake. It's perfectly reasonable to me to put beets, zucchini/courgettes, and carrots into cakes and muffins. I like the looks of this one and will definitely try it out. It will make a change from beets and cocoa powder! :)

  2. What a lovely post! I also like the creativity and ingenuity of the recipe, and the result looks very nice. It reminds me of one of my favorite books on food and life: How to Cook a Wolf, by M.F.K. Fisher, described by James Beard as “her brilliant approach to wartime economies for the table.”

  3. sounds like a great tv show - cooking during the war seems fascinating and innovative - I have bookmarked this dish to try

  4. Taste-wise, I love the idea of using golden syrup here (I wonder how molasses would work?), but for novelty value, the carrot definitely wins out!

  5. Thanks Tanita - what really impresses me is that that generation of women really knew how to cook, it was intuitive, they didn't need glossy photos or 4 pages of instructions. They still have a lot to teach us.

    Thanks Simona - considering their limitations in ingredients I'm amazed at what they did, I wonder if our generation would be capable of doing the same.

    It's a great show Johanna - hope you try the pudding soon!

    Thanks Hannah - molasses and treacle should work too, probably give it a bit more smokey notes

  6. What a creative approach to adding that much needed sugary hit!

    I love this and am definitely bookmarking it for that glut of carrots in my fridge.

  7. lovely pic, drooling over the cake..yum!

  8. I visited an exhibition titled "Ministry of Food" at the Imperial War Museum in London. It documented wartime efforts to grow their own food, prepare only certain recipes and reduce dependence (and importation of wheat etc). It was amazing what they could do in times of shortage.

  9. Thanks Marisa - hope you enjoy the pud!

    Thanks Ananda!

    That would have been a wonderful thing to see Beau - I know it makes me pause and think about just how fortunate we are and how much we take simple things for granted.

    Thanks so much Chriesi!

  10. Thanks so much for posting - looks delicious. It's amazing seeing how adaptable people were with their cooking.


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