Happy New Year everybody! I hope you all had a spectacular Christmas-New Year’s combo platter. Last night I had a late dinner with a good friend, my sister and her hubs at the restaurant where Eric works, and when the clock struck twelve I was almost too preoccupied with a mouthful of filet mignon and crab cake to even notice. Family, friends and great food. No better way to do it. Now, without further adieu, the long awaited Christmas Pudding!
I’m not going to post the recipe for this one, sorry kids, but I have to thank my brother-in-law Alex’s excellent mum Gillian for sending it to me and also including some very useful handwritten tips. And I have a tip for you: if you live in America and want to make an English Christmas Pudding, plan ahead! I had a hell of a time finding veg suet, that’s for sure. Oh and I had to make my own candied peel, which I’m actually happy about. It turned out great and now I know how to do it. I used two oranges and two lemons.
Ahh! Naked fruit! The process is a little involved: peel, julienne, blanch, blanch, blanch, boil for 45 minutes.
Then roll in sugar and let dry for a while. Really delicious. I dipped the leftovers in chocolate, which only made them better.
When the day came to make the pudding I soaked all the dried fruit in brandy… for twelve hours.
The ingredients are really pretty simple. A whole bunch of fruit, a little flour, sugar, golden syrup and for fat, the ever-elusive veg suet. (Which I found in Long Grove at this lovely little shop; your Chicagoland source for all things British.) Traditionally it’s steamed in a ceramic pudding basin, but since I didn’t have one of those I went with pyrex. I wrapped the top in parchment and foil and put the whole thing in my makeshift steamer for a four hour steam.
When it was done and cooled a bit I decided it was my duty as the chef to taste test. Since I made two, I didn’t feel the least bit guilty in taking a chunk out of one.
It was kind of freakin’ delicious. I deemed it suitable to light on fire and serve to my family. On Christmas day we reheated in the microwave, which Gillian said was perfectly acceptable. Hey, this is the 21st century after all. It unmolded almost perfectly save for a few little stubborn pieces on the top. (Oh and by the way, I received a lovely new camera for Christmas, so from here on out my photo quality will greatly improve. Hooray!)
Those minutes in the microwave also gave the pudding a darker hue that Alex said looked just about right. Then it was time. Time to light food on fire. And since I didn’t trust anyone else to take the photos, I let Alex do the honors. Good idea? Debatable. Funny? Hell yes.
Impressive eh? It was until the burning brandy dripped from the plate to the countertop. Look, you can see it go!
Don’t worry, Alex put it out with his hand. All is well in the world of granite.
By the time we finished soaking it with brandy it was potent to say the least. I made a cinnamon brandy sauce to go with it, not very traditional but I knew the recipe well and didn’t want to try to make brandy butter on Christmas day. This is such a great dessert. It’s like a fruitcake and a bread pudding had a baby. And the taste is the quintessential food embodiment of the holidays, full of warmth and spices.
It was the perfect addition to our meal and I hope it gave Alex a little taste of home on his first Christmas in the US. Thank you again to Gillian for the lovely recipe, I had a lot of fun making it, eating it and watching Alex light the counter on fire.