A great dessert that doesn't come in a box.


  • jelly:
  • 500 ml wine
  • 500 ml port
  • 350 g sugar
  • 3-4 pears (peeled whole)
  • 6 figs
  • 11 sheets of thin gelatine
  • custard:
  • 250 ml double cream
  • 125 ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pods
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50 g sugar
  • creamy topping:
  • 500 ml single cream
  • 250 g mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tblsp icing sugar
  • whole walnuts
  • to finish:
  • sponge base


  • Sponge Base:
  • Buy some sponge base. Break it up, soak it in sherry.
  • Jelly:
  • Pour the wine, port and sugar into a pan and bring to a rolling boil for a couple of minutes.
  • Put the pears into the heated wine and port mixture.
  • Continue to cook gently for a couple of minute, the wine and port mixture should be just rolling over.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and allow the pears to rest in the liquid until they are really coloured, the pears should not be soggy.
  • Take the pears out of the wine and port liquid and place them to one side.
  • Soften the gelatine in cold water. Top tip! This will prevent any nasty smells, more jelly tips on the side.
  • Pick up the softened gelatine and put it in the wine and port mixture.
  • The gelatine will dissolve into the mixture when you stir it.
  • Now pour the jelly over the sodden sponge and put it in the fridge.
  • Custard:
  • Split the vanilla pods in half and scrape out the seeds into a saucepan.
  • Pour the milk and cream into the pan and bring it to a gentle boil.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl.
  • Pour the hot milk and cream mixture slowly over the egg mixture stirring continually.
  • Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring continually, until the mixture thickens.
  • You really have to stand over the pan stirring continually, to ensure the eggs don't scramble!
  • Top Tip:
  • Once you see that the mixture is thickened pour it immediately into a clean bowl that is sitting in a larger bowl of iced water. This cools down the mixture to prevent further cooking.
  • Lay cling film on top of the custard once it’s cooled completely put it in the fridge until you need it.
  • Assembly:
  • Take the set jelly out of the fridge.
  • Spoon the cooled custard over the jelly.
  • Creamy topping:
  • Whisk the mascarpone and cream in a bowl until it has nearly doubled and is a light but firm consistency.
  • Sieve in the icing sugar in and give a gentle whisk.
  • Spoon the creamy mix over the custard.
  • To finish sprinkle roughly chopped walnuts over the cream.


Richard's tips: If you want to make sure that you’ve used enough gelatine and the jelly will set, spoon a little of the mixture onto a plate cool it rapidly by putting it in the fridge. It should be wobbly rather than rubbery. To crack open a walnut shell, give it a whack where the two shells join with the back of a good kitchen knife. Take the walnuts from the shell. Rub the walnuts between your two hands to remove any excess chaff, as it's quite bitter. Immerse the gelatine, one sheet at a time in cold water. It'll soften once it's completely covered in water. Leave the sheet of gelatine in the water while you add the rest one at a time. It's ready when the gelatine leaves are soft but not completely dissolved you should be able to pick then up.

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