For the puddings, set the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and lightly oil six 300ml (11 fl oz) ramekin dishes. Cream the sugar and butter until pale-coloured, then add the vanilla and egg and beat again for a minute. Sift the flour and baking powder, mix in, and set the batter aside in a warm place. Put the water, fruit and nuts in a pan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda (don’t worry about the frothing). Stir into the batter and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins until three-quarters full, place on a baking tray and put in the oven. Test after 25 minutes by inserting a skewer into the puddings; it should come out clean, though if a little fruit sticks to it that’s fine. If the batter is still undercooked, return to the oven until done. Once cooked, let the puddings sit in their dishes for 10 minutes before turning out.
Now for the caramel. Put the sugar and water in a deep pot and bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Once it comes to the boil do not stir; keep on a high heat and soon it will start to go golden, then brown. As soon as there’s the least whiff of burning remove the pot from the heat and pour in the orange juice. It will bubble and steam frantically, so stand clear. When it settles down, return the pot to the heat and return to the boil. After 1 minute add the cream and bring to the boil again. Pour the caramel sauce over the toffee puddings and serve with lashings of lightly whipped cream.
© 1997 Peter Gordon. All rights reserved.