Pudding is the best part of a meal for many of us. But as coeliacs it's remarkable just how many restaurants offer only fruit as a dessert.
Sometimes you can get lucky with a gluten-free brownie and a scoop of icecream. But wouldn't it be fab if there could be more naturally gluten-free puddings on the menu - things that even people without dietary restrictions would choose without hesitation?
To help fuel the imagination, I've put together a top ten list. It includes many of my favourite puddings and none of them need substitutes for flour (like brownies) or bread (like summer pudding) or biscuits (like cheesecake). It's not that I mind a substitute - hey, I'm all for a gluten-free version of the foods I used to eat - but this is a post to persuade those who scoff at gluten-free (or simply wonder what on earth they can have) that there really is good stuff out there. For those who also need egg-free, take a look at numbers 6, 7 and 9.
If you're wondering why I put these in the same category, it's because it would feel like cheating to separate them out. Yes, yes, I know they're different, but essentially they're both meringue, cream and strawberries (or passion fruit if you prefer Nigella's version). And if you start out trying to make a pav and it all goes wrong, you can pretend you always meant to make Eton Mess. As Delia says, it simply doesn't matter.
When I was little, I got my first taste of a really yummy chocolate mousse with gorgeous dark chocolate. My mum was holding a dinner party and her first attempt had gone wrong so she served it to me and my siblings. I couldn't see what was bad about it, though. I thought it was the most delicious thing ever!
I used to make this all the time in the Aga when I was growing up. It was a great way to use up apples (which we had in abundance, and I always loathed baked apple, so this was an excellent alternative). Serve this cold with cream and you're in for a treat.
This is a great pudding for those who like to show off with a blow torch. And it tastes amazing. What's not to love?
The ingredients are a bit similar to creme brulee but the presentation is completely different. If you love the idea of a caramel sauce oozing out over your pudding, possibly with a drop or two of Grand Marnier, then this is the pudding for you.
This is one of the best sharing puddings. What could be better than dipping fresh fruit, marshmallows or crunchy honeycomb into melted chocolate and cream?
Good old James Martin's given a recipe with only 3 ingredients and 3 minutes' prep. Seriously! Then you can pop it in the fridge and get on with other things.
Ice cream bombe
I must admit, I had to double-check what an ice cream bombe actually was. I thought it was covered in meringue but no, it's sculpted icecream. The link above will take you to a cheat's version where you can buy 3 flavours of ready-made icecream to make it. You will have to have 3 different-sized bowls, though, and a bit of cling film.
Rice pudding (but posh)
Normal rice pudding would never have made it into this top ten list. Forget the tinned stuff you used to put a blob of jam on. Instead, think of double cream, butter, nutmeg and wine (yes, wine!). If you're wondering, the recipe I've given in the link above is, obviously, Nigella's. Who else would use all these yummy ingredients in a dish that essentially used to be rice and milk?
Chocolate almond torte
A top ten puddings list wouldn't be a top ten without something baked with chocolate, and this is just the ticket. My advice? Don't let it bake too long in the oven. That fudgy texture is what's going to make everyone want seconds.
(N.B. Although all the ingredients are listed with metric measurements, the chocolate is referred to with an American term of 'bittersweet or semi-sweet'. Basically, use a dark chocolate and you'll have a winner of a pudding.)