OK, a few folk had left before the puddings were introduced, but you can do them yourself, splitters.
Legendary Buff Cake
Firstly I have probably bored you with how this is not technically Sachertorte, because that's a tm. cake that can only be made by not many people, none of them me. Lawyers have been involved. Since they're not sharing the recipe, I looked at many not-official versions and consolidated this one out of them. I haven't (yet) troughed the Actual Sachertorte so I don't claim authenticity, but I do claim fabulousness (unless yours is terrible, in which case I'll conclude that I have some genetic predisposition to making good cakes). If you are scared by issues of cake legality, we can call it something else: Practice Cake, or Buff Cake Mocks Puny Humans, or maybe Sach-ersatz-ertorte.
Still, we can deduce that it is a chocolate-based torte, i.e. flourless cake in which ground nuts are used and rising action is provided by air whipped into egg whites.
This is an *extremely* srs cake and if you're making it make sure you can have friends round to help get rid of it. Or, if you don't have friends, make a mini version with halved/quartered ingredients.
1 large bar dark chocolate
6oz ground almonds
-Rest of it
1 bar of very good dark chocolate
Smidge of smetana, sour cream, creme fraiche, or natural yoghurt
Don't use cooking chocolate, but chocolate that you'd actually like to eat. Aim for 50% cocoa solids or more. Apparently one of the spiffy things about Actualtorte is that it's made with superspecial local chocolate, so pick some up if you're in the area.
Separate the eggs.
Melt the chocolate (I don't bother with a saucepan of water, I do it gently in the microwave.)
Whisk the egg yolks, butter, and sugar until all fluffy and pale, then add the almonds and chocolate. Give the bowl to someone you like, to lick.
Whisk egg whites until they're all pointy and could support a bridge (hold the bowl over the head of someone you don't like, to check). Fold them into the chocolate mixture.
It will now resemble delicious soil.
Now there are two ways to go: you can bake it in two separate pans, or not. Whether it should have jam in the middle is disputed. I like extra moistity so I go with central jam; because it's not a super-rising cake, I don't recommend baking it in one pan then slicing.
Bake at 180degrees. I don't actually time it but check it every 10 minutes, and when it looks done and a testing fork comes out clean, that'll do. A bit underdone is better than dry; it will sort itself out.
Once it, or they, are cool, un-pan them and cover the flattest side of one half generously with apricot jam. Add the top half.
Now put them on a very flat plate or the metal circle out of a two-part cake tin. Stand this on a sturdy wide cup, vase, or flowerpot; the idea is to have an easily-accessible cake for icing.
Now cover it with jam. Apricot jam knows its importance in cake-assembly and will comply; spread it on with a flat-edged knife, covering the top and sides completely. Thickness is up to you.
Admire its glistening spiffiness.
Melt the other chocolate. Combine butter and whichever permutation of gone-off milk you're using. (This is my own preference, I find the sourness just cuts through the otherwise-cloying icing nicely. And it's my recipe, so sod off.)
If you let it, the icing will *set*, so best ice while it's still warm.
It's the same procedure as for jam, and you will find the jam helps the chocolate adhere. It's easy to get a very smooth professional surface by using the wider edge of your butterknife, and rotating the plate makes even coverage for the sides.
Some people write 'Sacher' on the top in leftover icing; I don't have an icing manipulator, so I usually eat it.
Further ornamentation is, IMO, unnecessary; it's not going to get any fancier, and in any case *really* should be served mit schlag because it's so dense and that. We like sour cream rather than actual cream for this.
Keeps very well, if you cover it. It is better to make it a couple of days in advance too, as it 'ages' nicely.
Vareniki s Syrom
8oz plain flour
1tsp combined salt and bicarbonate of soda
Tvarog (or substitutions as for Knudeln)
Perhaps these were underwhelming because they followed some savoury cheese dumplings, but I have no limit on dumplings. This is a Ukrainian recipe specifically, but it's not geographically confined; analogues of sweet cheese dumplings are all over the place. 'Vareniki' is the generic term for dumplings of any flavour, savoury or sweet; cf. Polish pierogi.
Essentially, fermented milk. 0.01% alcoholic and very slightly fizzy. In my experience people don't like to hear about fermented milk (even if they love cheese), but it's entirely non-threatening. Apparently it's very very good for you but I have no references for that; think of it as like those nice, safe, middle-class tiny 'probiotic' drinks, but vastly cheaper and a lot more peasanty. It's made by letting things live in your milk- sort of like yeast on the 'is it alive' scale, they are a 'casein-protein matrix' which grows and ferments the milk for you. You buy a spoonful of this (I got it from eBay) in the form of dry grains, add it to milk in a glass jar, leave it out of the fridge overnight and then you have kefir. Strain the life forms out and use. Yes, you can drink it. Keeps in the fridge forever; although it will get exponentially more sour it won't really go off. You will not need to buy more unless you accidently discard or eat the living component. I don't want to hear any bilge about how 'disgusting' it is- if you ate at the housewarming, you ate kefir. It's ideal for adding to bread for a bit of extra rising help, which is its function in this recipe.
Mix the tvarog, egg, and sugar (the sugar should just give it a taste, as well as making it easier to stir).
Place flour in a bowl with a wee dip in the middle. That's where the other ingredients go. Mix, then knead briefly. Go and have some tea. Come back, roll it out, cut out round bits, place a spoonful of cheese filling on each, and assemble into dumplings.
Boil some water, add vareniki and boil until they float (not very long). Serve with something milk- or fruit-based.
Powidl. I put this on the vareniki.
This is a spicy plum jam originally of Czech origin. Technically it should be made with late plums which don't need additional sugar, but that's unlikely and mine definitely wasn't, so perhaps it's not Powidl officially. But that's quicker than saying 'spicy plum jam originally of Czech origin' every time.
I make it with the jam setting on my breadmaker, followed by some additional saucepan boiling. It had to go three cycles in the breadmaker, because they're not very long.
Jam is set by pectin. Plums contain sufficient amounts of this that you don't have to add it articificially, but the lemon juice will help, and adds a pleasant tang.
Chop the plums roughly, remove stones, and deposit in your boiling vessel.
I added sugar gradually and by guessing, when I was tired of boiling. Add as much as you like the taste of. Spices, lemon juice, etc.
Boil, or start the breadmaker.
Once the plums are disintegrated, you can strain them to even out the texture and remove the skins. Or you can leave them in and have powidl-with-bits. I recommend fishing out the cloves eventually though.
It's done when it's reached a consistency you like. Hot jam will obviously be a lot runnier than cold set jam, so take out a spoonful to test the set now and then. Ideally it should be thick but spreadable.
Like all jams, it is hostile to mould if you keep it properly; I just decanted it into a glass jar and it's still doing well.
I also used the powidl to fill Buchteln, another Austrian pudding (any country where main course can actually be a pudding is to be trusted on matters of dessert), but a bit more homely. Probably it was an unnecessary pudding since no one ate it, but if you want to sample, it's just sweet yeast dough dumplings filled with jam and baked all together, served with thin vanilla custard.
This is more of an assembly flatpack pudding than a recipe. Several (I used four) layers of puff pastry, sandwiched with confectioner's custard (i.e. proper custard in a saucepan, not Bird's), iced on top. Admittedly mine was not the most impressive or evenly-baked, but it can be very fancy if you ice it properly. Use either frozen puff pastry or homemade, as it's actually not that hard.
Burmese recipe for coconut agar jelly. I prefer agar to gelatin immeasurably, and enjoy the way it does not melt. It is firm rather than wobbly, but this ratio of agar>liquid makes a soft jelly rather than a chewy one.
Agar is made from seaweed, but has no flavour of its own. It comes either in powder or great ungainly fronds. Either has to be boiled, but don't be put off by the fronds as they're quite manageable once snipped up, and they dissolve quickly.
1can of coconut milk (shake first)
Soak the agar overnight, or at least a couple of hours. Combine the coconut milk and water in a saucepan. Boil the agar until thoroughly dissolved, mix in the sugar and rose essence. Simmer until it is all transparent and combined. Agar sets in record time (this is cool when you drip some on your worktop, you can just peel the then-solid drips right off) so pour it into heatproof moulds while it's still liquid.
Once you're sure they're set, unmould onto a suitably decorative plate. I put a spoonful of rose petal jam and an actual rose petal on top of each.
I also made unflavoured sweet agar with mandarin orange segments, and slightly lemony blue ones.
This is a huge subject and I'm not actually that good at wagashi so I'll just tell you how to make the basic components. These are Japanese rice-and-bean based sweets meant for eating with tea. They are extremely sweet, so you really need the tea to set them off.
'Wagashi' just means 'Japanese confectionary' i.e. not 'Western confectionary' so it's not a greatly descriptive term. There are several subtypes, like higashi (dry sweets, requiring stuff I don't have), yokan (agar jelly), manju (steamed buns), mochi (sticky rice cake), and namagashi (often seasonal confections of bean paste and rice flour). Look up some of these terms on Google Images and be fecking astounded by how unbelievably gorgeous they often are. I can't approach that level of skill, but I enjoy a good bean-and-rice sweet, so here are a sprinkling.
Red azuki beans
This is not a sweet in itself, but a very important ingredient. It is the filling for most sweets.
Boil the beans until they're soft. You can strain the skins off, but I don't bother. Blend or mash very thoroughly by hand. Boil the sugar in a little water until dissovled, then mix into the beans. Place the mixture in a clean piece of cloth over a jug, and gradually strain all the excess water out. When the paste starts to retain the shape of the creases in the cloth, it's about the right consistency. Freeze if you're not going to use it immediately (it does keep in the fridge but will go sour, so is no longer useful for sweet dishes).
You can also make a version with mung beans, which have a subtly different flavour. (And if you accidentally burn them they taste a bit like pleasant coffee.)
White beans (haricots or white kidney beans)
Another filling and general ingredient. Method as above. However, shiro-an is much more widely used because of its potential for colouring.
Mix sufficient rice flour with the shiro-an until it is firm and pliable. Nerikiri is used on its own, or filled with other bean pastes. I haven't yet been able to make it sufficiently white to take colour properly (still experimenting with beans) but the slight yellow background shade makes for some pleasantly earthy natural colours when food colouring is added.
Glutinous rice flour
Glutinous rice flour is readily available from Chinese groceries. If you can't get it, you can get actual glutinous rice, cook it, then blend it until it's gooey. That's mochi. Traditionally made by pounding rice, but that has logistical problems.
If you're making it with flour, mix it with the water until a paste is formed, add sugar, then microwave, stirring every minute or so. It should rapidly turn translucent and extremely sticky. Handled with copious amounts of rice flour, it becomes quite manageable. It should be firm enough to shape but still very soft, and can be flavoured with just about anything. Try not to choke to death on it.
Roll out spoonful-sized lumps of mochi into thin circles. On each place a dollop of anko, with half a strawberry in the centre. Fold over, seal with water, and suprise people with unexpected fruit.
That's all. Prepare the agar, mix together, mould, and serve. This is meant to be a summer pudding and it is really quite refreshing on a hot day.
I also made a green tea variation using shiro-an and maccha powder. Maccha, powdered green tea, is used for tea ceremonies but is quite strongly-flavoured that unless you're doing it properly, with a whisk and all, it's better to save it for cooking than to drink it.