We discovered this amazing dessert, basically South Africa’s answer to Latin America’s Tres Leche Cake (recipe on this site BTW), on our recent trip to South Africa. It is one dessert that a diner can almost always find on the menu. And there is a very good reason why it is featured so often. It’s absolutely delicious. And like apple pie, there appear to be as many variations of this popular dessert as there are pastry chefs or home bakers.
This variation was given to me by the owner/chef of the Soeterus Guest Farm in Calizdorp, South Africa. One of the two nights we stayed on the farm, Hannelie and her husband Jamesly fixed a wonderful dinner for all of us who were staying with them that night. We had marinated ostrich steaks that Jamesly grilled on the Braai (BBQ). Hannelie made three salads – a green salad with an amazing vinaigrette, a shredded raw carrot salad with fresh pineapple, and a fresh green bean and feta salad. Along with the grilled ostrich and salads, she also served tiny buttered new potatoes. All of the dishes were wonderful and we ate until we were totally full. Then she served dessert. OMG. Big squares of this amazing concoction with vanilla ice cream on the side.
Now I don’t normally eat sweets. Not because I don’t like them, but because as I have gathered a few post Medicare years under my belt, my stomach has decided that it will no longer tolerate refined sugar. And as much as I try and reason with my stomach, it usually wins and I forgo dessert. But not this evening! There are just times when you have to fly in the face of sagacity. And oh am I glad I did. The malva was so very wonderful. Soft, delicious, and actually quite light. Perfect after a heavy, rich meal.
Now don’t be put off after you read this recipe by the fact that this is a “5 steps to heaven” dessert. The “5 step” plan may seem onerous at first glance, but really the dessert goes together very quickly, and is SO worth the effort.
So next time you want to serve a dessert that is different and that is actually better if it is prepared a day or two ahead, give this South African classic a try. You will not be disappointed. In fact, you will probably thank me after you try this recipe. And I will respond like a true South African – “pleasure”!
Step 1 – Pudding:
- 1 c. cake flour
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 T. cocoa
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ c. vegetable oil
- ½ c. boiling water
- 4 eggs, room temperature, separated
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Whisk together the cake flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. Whisk together the vegetable oil and boiling water and gently mix with the dry ingredients. Separate the 4 eggs. Beat the yolks and vanilla together and stir in with the other ingredients. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into batter. Pour into a lightly buttered 9×13-inch pan. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 30-35 minutes if using a glass pan, or 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes if using metal. Remove from oven when the pudding is set and immediately pour the Sauce evenly over the top. Cool completely and frost with Dulce de Leche. Refrigerate. When ready to serve, cut into pieces and dollop with Whipped Cream or vanilla ice cream. Sprinkle lightly with Cocoa powder.
Step 2 – Sauce:
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 c. water
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 T. brandy
- 2 T. Amarula Cream Liqueur* (look for an elephant on the label)
- 1 tsp. espresso powder
Combine all the ingredients, bring to a boil, and while still hot, pour over the just out of the oven pudding.
Step 3 – Topping:
- 1 can Dulce de Leche (to make your own, see instructions below)
Step 4 – Whipped Cream:
- 1 pint whipping cream
- 3 T. powdered sugar
- 1 T. Amarula Cream Liqueur
Whip the cream to stiff peaks. Add the powdered sugar and Amarula and continue whipping until thoroughly combined.
Step 5 – Garnish:
- Cocoa, for dusting
Homemade Dulce de Leche
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk (solid cans without tab lids preferred)
Peel the label off the can of sweetened condensed milk. Place the can upright in a pan tall enough to allow water to cover the can by at least 2 inches. Add water. Bring the water to a very gentle boil, reduce the heat to low, and gently simmer for 3 hours, carefully turning the can (using tongs works best) halfway through the cooking process.
VERY IMPORTANT: Watch the water level carefully. Never allow the water level to fall below the top of the can. So add water as necessary and keep a careful eye on the simmering process.
After the simmering time, turn off the heat and allow the can to come to room temperature. Never open the can while it is still hot. It must reach room temperature before opening. After opening the can, stir and pour over the cooled pudding. Homemade Dulce de Leche can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
*Amarula Cream (per the label on the bottle), “is a pure blend of nature’s fresh cream and the mysterious taste of the wild marula fruit. Africa’s majestic elephants walk for miles to feast on the sun-ripened marula fruit which is indigenous to the region’s vast subequatorial plains”.
Note about elephants: Elephants love citrus fruit. Upon entering a nature reserve, guests are always asked if they have any citrus fruit with them. If so, they are persuaded to leave it behind because elephants can smell it from miles away. Who knew? Good thing the fine rangers and other qualified nature reserve people are watching out for us poor uneducated tourists. I mean really, who wants to have their rental car turned over by an elephant in search of a lemon anyway?
(Just one of the many darling “little” fellows we encountered while visiting nature reserves.)