Malva pudding, also called malvapoeding or marshmallow pudding, is a traditional South African dessert. Since South African restaurants are a rarity overseas, you probably haven’t come across malva pudding until now.

It is a sweet pudding recipe with a yellow sponge drenched in a decadent sauce. Generally, it also contains apricot jam, which is a classic ingredient in South African cuisine.

As a finishing touch, it’s topped with either vanilla custard or fresh cream. On this occasion, my malva pudding is all kinds of special. My secret? Amarula liqueur, a drink made with marula fruit from Africa.

In total, it will take roughly one hour to complete this malva pudding recipe. It’s best served hot, straight out of the oven.

However, you can also consume it when it is cool. In any event, you will fall in love with this South African malva pudding recipe at first bite. Enjoy exploring the joys of South African cooking. 


Usually, the sauce comprises butter, cream and sugar. To make it family-friendly, orange juice can be added. For the grown ups, a touch of alcohol can be used such as Amarula liqueur, sherry or your favourite liqueur.

I’ve used South Africa’s favourite liqueur before in my amazing Amarula cheesecake recipe. It’s visually stunning thanks to the vibrant colour of the liqueur and simply tastes incredible!

Would you believe me if I told you that malva pudding only started gaining popularity in 2006 in the USA? Back then, Oprah’s personal chef Art Smith, served it on the show for Christmas.

Instantly, malva pudding became a hit in the USA, especially around the West Coast. Slowly, it became an international sensation and more people started to enjoy the South African cuisine.

Traditionally, malva pudding is made in a large baking dish. However, for cuter presentation, you can use ramekins to serve as individual portions. In this way everyone will have they own little malva pudding cake.

The key to this malva pudding recipe though is to get the texture right. Just like the name suggests, malvalekker which means marshmallow, the pudding should possess a soft texture.

So make sure that you don’t over-bake the malva pudding. Otherwise, it will lose its soft texture and the taste might be compromised. If in doubt, fix it with the Amarula liqueur which will moisten it.

I highly recommend you to serve this malva pudding with a small glass of Amarula liqueur with ice. Beware though, this is then an adult-only dessert.

Other toppings you can consider are:

  • hot vanilla cream or custard
  • whipped cream
  • hokey pokey ice cream
  • Ferrero rocher ice cream
  • peanut butter and jelly ice cream
  • chocolate fudge sauce
  • other types of syrups
  • fresh fruit

Generally speaking, South African cuisine is a mishmash of cultures due to its long history of colonisation. On the whole, can find influences from the Dutch, English, French, English, Portuguese, Bengalese, Java and Malaysian people

Of course, the indigenous people had an influence as well! As you can tell, there is always a recipe for everyone.

For instance, if you really would like to make a South African feast, try these savoury dishes:

  • booereboontijes – green bean and potato mash
  • geelrys – traditional yellow rice
  • bobotie – a savoury pie
  • ham en kaas souttert – traditional ham and cheese filling tart
  • denningvleis – traditional meaty dish

If you feel like these South African recipe are too exotic for you, then I strongly suggest you try this malva pudding first. It really does conquer the heart of any non-adventurious eater!

Have you ever had the opportunity to taste Amarula liqueur? Have you ever tried any South African dish like this malva pudding? Let me know!