Pudding Pop

Heat up the holidays with British pudding cakes

Christmas pudding–which bears a closer resemblance to cake than the lunch-box pudding of our youth–is a mandatory holiday staple in Britain. And it has jumped across the pond, with Stateside chefs baking variations that are simple, but more sophisticated than their tinned forebearers, and delicious year-round.

Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco serves a spicy pumpkin pudding cake with a hot, softened center. The warming cinnamon and nutmeg are cut by pungent blue cheese, and chef-owner Tyler Florence tops the dessert with a piece of honeycomb from his backyard.

At 2941 in Falls Church, Virginia, pastry chef Anthony Chavez's most popular summer dessert–a pudding cake with sweet-corn ice cream and blueberry gastrique–swaps semolina flour for traditional all-purpose for a denser texture.

Canada's pouding chomeur, which loosely translates to "unemployed pudding," is anything but a poor man's dessert. Made with maple syrup, the soft, gooey cake is like maple-doused cookie dough. At Tria in North Oaks, Minnesota, chef Brian Bossert serves the decadent dish (pictured; click here to download the recipe) in two sizes, each saturated with maple syrup and topped with vanilla ice cream.