British desserts, often collectively referred to as puddings, consist of dozens of fantastic recipes for both traditional and modern sweets. Quite unique, the many types of British desserts contain rich, delicate, and flavorful ingredients to satisfy any type of sweet tooth. Some of the most popular types of British desserts include fools, tarts and crumbles, trifle, Christmas pudding, and the famed spotted dick.
Fools are a fabulously lush and indulgent type of dessert, despite a very basic ingredient profile. A fruit fool usually contains layers of flavored and sweetened whipped cream, and fresh or pureed fruit. Easy to whip up in a matter of minutes, fools can nevertheless be elegantly plated and served in beautiful sundae glasses. One variation on a fool is the famous Eton Mess, named for a popular dessert at one of England's most famous colleges. The Eton mess combines strawberries, cream, and pieces of meringue or cake, and is often served quite haphazardly.
Tarts and crumbles are two types of British desserts similar to pie. Many tarts are associated with a particular location of origin, such as Bakewell tart, Liverpool tart, and Eccles tart. Tarts typically consist of a blend of ingredients baked into a single, flaky tart crust. Crumbles are similar to American cobblers, and feature a base of fruit, often apples or rhubarb, topped by a crumbly streusel and baked until golden brown. Crumbles are another fast and easy dessert, and can make a great, quick addition to a brunch or tea buffet.
One of the more spectacular British desserts for presentation purposes is traditional English trifle. This layered dessert is often served in a clear glass bowl or individual crystal cups, so that the layers are visible. Layers in a trifle usually consist of thick custard, whipped cream, fruit, and sponge cake. Some recipes also call for the sponge to be soaked in liquor, such as rum, sherry, or amaretto, for an extra bit of flavor.
Possibly the most traditional of all British desserts is the Christmas pudding. Shaped like a cannonball and often concocted weeks in advance, the Christmas pudding is a truly spectacular combination of ingredients. Raisins, brandy, spices, flour, and beef fat are all common ingredients, though it is possible to make Christmas pudding with vegetarian suet. This dense, festive treat is often topped with brand frosting or liquor, and sometimes set on fire before serving for extra presentation points.
No list of British desserts is complete without the oddly named spotted dick. Believed to be derived from an earlier moniker, “spotted dog,” the dish gets its name from the raisins and currents that stud the outside of the dessert. This thick, bread-pudding like dish is often served swimming in cream or custard, and can be deliciously warming on a chilly fall day.