Life in limbo: chocolate pudding


Well, we thought were leaving Accra mid-November….. but travel clearances are taking their time, so life is in limbo right now. As we were assured all was on track, we gave notice on our flat, and the lease runs out in two weeks. I am taking deep breaths and reminding myself that I do have a job next month, somewhere, that we have our health and this will be resolved. Still, this is stressing me out to no end. Short term accommodation is hard to find here, and expensive, and right now we do not know if the delay will be days, weeks or months.

The Guardian had a great article today, which resonated with me also in times of uncertainty: “Cooking is perfect to empty your brain of bad men and the things they do

…. Crisp but floury potatoes, and slow-cooked lamb, tender and almost melting off the bone, are like the safety of a friend’s hug. Cooking is sorcery. Some days we desperately need its magic.

Exactly.  World news is depressing, stories of sexual harassment keep coming, and are only too believable. My challenges are small, but some days I just want to curl up in the sofa and watch Gilmore Girls. Well, when all else fails, there is still cooking. I am still emptying fridge, freezer and food stocks, in case by some miracle we move in the next 20 days, and/or if we move to a rented room somewhere. Que sera, sera. Let there be chocolate pudding……….


I started with Smitten Kitchen’s Best chocolate pudding, because her recipes are the best. The plan was to use evaporated milk and Italian Hulala UHT whipping cream, as in photo above, but  Iwas too distracted to remember that, as I was watching the YouTube Yacht Rock series on my laptop at the same time, which is very funny….. So the pudding was all done with milk powder. The chocolate was Guatemalan, as we are lucky enough to have a friend who works in cocoa. Not enough chocolate left, so I used up the last of our Ghanaian cocoa as well. Ghana is the second largest cocoa exporter in the world, after Côte d’Ivoire, and we get excellent cocoa here.

Use-it-up chocolate pudding

30 grammes cornstarch
120 grams icing sugar  (we are low on regular sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
700 ml whole milk (I used powdered milk & water)
1 tbs vanilla sugar (Norwegian – just use 1/2 tsp vanilla extract if easier to find)
95 gr bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
65 gr unsweetened Ghana cocoa (last of package, you could use a bit less)
Optional: sugar sprinkles on top

Combine the cornstarch, powdered milk, icing sugar and salt in a medium saucepan, Whisk in the water/milk, and bring to low boil. Add chocolate and cocoa powder, stir well so all is melted and mixed in. After ten minutes or so it will thicken: taste to see how you like flavour and texture. I added an extra pinch of vanilla salt at this stage. Also added: sugar sprinkles on top, as we in are the “everything must go” stage of pre-moving. Cool and eat: this makes at least six servings, even for stressed people, as it was very dark and chocolate-y.

Piling up items to ship or give away: there is a classifieds section here in Accra where people sell all kinds of things due to house moves: furniture, used shoes, kitchenware, toys… I never thought I might be one of them, but if we have to store stuff with friends while we are in temporary lodgings, much more will be shedded. Most just given away, I think, it might also help for good karma for the move.

And to remind myself to keep this in perspective: another neighbour died, as we could see from the red and black funeral drapings on their gate. We have a lot to be grateful for, so I will keep breathing, waiting and maybe have some more chocolate pudding….

Apple-coconut sponge pudding

20170218_111626.jpgWho knew there was an Accra version of Monopoly? I’ve only seen a banner for it at Accra mall, but will keep en eye out. I was at the mall looking for a yoga mat (Game, 82 cedi or so, depending on colour) and had a cold coffee at Second Cup, when we spotted the banner for Accra Monopoly. Accra Mall is actually listed as #4 of TripAdvisor’s top things to do in Accra, which I might not agree with. But it  has A/C, cinema, Shoprite and Game, and it can be a nice change of scene. We just went to see “Hidden Figures” there. And there is a Woodin store, wonderful Ghana fabrics by the yard, just a riot of gorgeous colours. Or is this the Vlisco window? Both are lovely. There  is a bigger Woodin store in Osu, on Oxford Street, nice ready-made men’s shirts and fabrics by the yard.


Inspired by Beb’s RecipeDrawer‘s Apricot Sponge Pudding,  which uses dried apricots, I made a sponge pudding with fresh pineapple. Counting down to holidays, there were also some apples in the back of the veg drawer, and I had found nice flaked coconut  (at Palace, for those who know Accra). Food shopping here is better than expected, as long as you are prepared to try a few different shops for very specific things. Strong bread flour can be a challenge; the local Tema flour can normally be found but is sometimes very moth-infested, but a new French brand just showed up in Marina Mall (another mall, #15 of 55 things to do in Accra – mysterious) which is OK. So we manage. Anyway, back to the pudding.

Apple-coconut sponge pudding with pineapple

4 red apples (peeled, cored and diced – about 300 grammes)
150 grammes fresh pineapple
1 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp potato flour

Sponge topping:
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
3 eggs
1/4 cup butter

Bake 30 min in moderate oven, 180C.The recipe notes that the fruit mix needs to be hot, so I quickly boiled up the apple slices and sugar, then thickened this with potato flour. Pour in glass dish, then mix topping together and bake. I used less butter and less sugar, as the fruit was quite sweet, so the top did not get very golden. Nice quick weekday dessert.


The sun sets just after six PM, and the kitchen is dark at the best of times, so the photo is not great. But the pudding was good! Lots of fruit flavour.  It probably would have been even nicer with more butter, but this worked fine.

One last Ghana@60 photo, a banner-festoned roundabout.


A Roman summer pudding


It was petrifying. Our litlle palazzo (building) was finally lifting the five-year ban on using the gorgeous roof terrace for anything but laundry, and was celebrating this with a condominium rooftop potluck. We had been assigned a secondo and a dolce: second course and dessert. But what cook? Well, as long we brought something foreign (but not too foreign) it should be OK. So I made Moroccan meatballs, and my husband made summer pudding. Berries, fruit, bread: very  English, refreshing and tasty.image We had made summer pudding last year in Norway, very popular. My husband used the BBC Good Food Summer pudding recipe again as a guideline, adapted to what we had. You would need something like this: 1-1.5 kilos mixed berries and fruit of your choice, 100 g sugar, 7-10 slices day-old white bread.

Step one: line a shallow bowl with plastic cling film, so it is easier to turn the pudding out later.

Step two: In a medium pot, add your assorted berries with a little sugar, depending how sweet your berries are. 100g was plenty for us. Strawberries and raspberries would often be used. We used frozen blueberries, frozen white currants, and a couple finely chopped apples to bulk it up a bit. You need enough to fill the bread-lined bowl. Cook the berries and fruit for a few minutes until the juices start releasing. Strain the fruit to catch the fruit juices, you will need that. In addition, a punnet of fresh strawberries were washed and chopped, but not cooked with the others. 20140613-220435-79475327.jpg

Step three: line the bowl with white bread, with the crusts cut off. Slightly stale works better. As you can see, the bread should be trimmed so it all fits tightly together. This time he dipped the cut bread in the fruit juices, then layered it in the bowl.

20140613-220438-79478451.jpg Step four: ladle over the berries and fruit mixture, into the bread-lined bowl. Add a layer of chopped strawberries as well. 20140613-220440-79480660.jpg Step five: keep filling it up with cooked berries and fruit until it is almost full. Leave a little free space on top. 20140613-220442-79482184.jpg Step six: cover the top of the bowl with a layer of trimmed white bread. Again, make sure it is fitted together well. Cover with plastic cling film. Now, put the bowl on a plate (it might leak) and put this carefully in the fridge, with a small plate on top of the bowl and something heavy on top. A couple milk cartons will do. Leave in fridge for 4-6 hours. As you see, we made two summer puddings, just in case. 20140613-220443-79483765.jpg Step seven: Take the bowl out of the fridge, and peel off the plastic cling film from the top. Now, invert it carefully onto a serving dish. Lift off the bowl, and remove the remaining cling film. You could decorate it with some extra berries if you remember. Impress your neighbours with the exotic English pudding, and give your husband all due credit. 20140613-215508-78908179.jpg

Really lovely evening, gorgeous view and a cool breeze. We stayed up there chatting until past midnight, really nice time with the neighbours.