I'm interested in making the divine-sounding Liquorice Pudding but it's difficult to find those black liquorice pellets and they're a little expensive online. I was wondering if I can use any other form of black liquorice - like boot laces cut up into small pieces - will this be the same?
Unfortunately to make the Liquorice Pudding (from Nigellissima and on the NIgella website) you do need to use the liquorice pellets. The liquorice candy confections (such as boot laces) do not work in the same way. This is partly as they are designed to be a slightly chewy candy and the ingredients often include binders and stabilizers as well as extra sugar.
This all means that it is difficult to melt the candy liquorice and you can end up with small pieces of unmelted candy in the custard mixture. The pure liquorice pellets also help the pudding to set and the result will not be the same if the candy version is used.
The liquorice pellets can be found in some Italian delicatessens so it may be worth checking locally. Otherwise liquorice pellets can be bought on-line (and for suggested suppliers please see the "stockists" section of the Nigella website).