I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for two very good friends of mine. I asked if they had any special requests. My friend Herb, who grew up in New England, asked for, among other things, Christmas pudding.
I had never made it before and really had no idea what it was but was up for the challenge. For most Americans, the best description would be a type of fruit cake or a very dense bread pudding.
Christmas pudding is not well known in the U.S., perhaps in New England. I learned that it is quite popular in the U.K. I found a recipe on http://www.bbcgoodfood.com (http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1159/classic-christmas-pudding) that I thought more doable than others, however, I still had to replace a few of the ingredients with others more common in the U.S.
If you decide to make allow for at least 9 hours.
You will also need the following:
- 2 2 qt size ceramic, heat-proof bowls, or 1 2 qt and 2 1 qt bowls.
- Parchment paper and a pair of scissors
- Kitchen twine
- Aluminum foil
- Wide and medium height cooking pot with cover
- This will be the vessel used to create a hot water bath for the bowls containing the pudding mixture.
- 2 oz blanched almonds
- 1 Cortland apple
- 1 Jonathan Gold apple
- 1 Granny Smith apple
- 8 oz candied peel (lemon, orange or citron)
- 3/4 of 1 whole nutmeg grated
- 2 1/4 lbs raisins
- 5 oz all purpose flour
- 4 oz soft fresh white breadcrumbs
- 4 oz light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tbsp cognac or brandy
- 1/2 lbs plus 3 tbsp cold unsalted butter
Cognac cream sauce (for desserts)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 egg yolk (up to 3 if you want a thicker sauce)
- 1 tbsp organic raw cane sugar
- 2 tbsp cognac
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Cut circular pieces of parchment paper that will just fit the inside of the lip of each bowl you will use for the pudding mixture, butter one side; set aside.
- Filling the cooking pot with the right amount of water:
- Place each bowl into the pot and begin filling the pot with enough water to get to 1 inch below the tops of the bowls.
- Remove the bowls; set the pot on the stove.
- Peel, core and cut the apples into approximately 1/2 inch cubes; place in a large mixing bowl.
- Remove the crust of fresh bread, weigh out 4 oz, place in a food processor and process into crumbs; place in the mixing bowl with the apples.
- Making the pudding mixture:
- Place the rest of the ingredients into the mixing bowl with the apples and the bread crumbs, mix well.
- Grate 1/4 of a stick of butter over the mixture, mix well.
- Repeat until all of the butter is used up.
- Filling the bowls:
- Prepare the ceramic bowls by applying butter all over the bottom and sides of the inside of each bowl.
- Spoon pudding mixture into each bowl pressing down the mixture so that it’s compact; leave 1/4 inch of space from the top of the pudding and the lip of each bowl.
- Covering the bowls:
- Place one parchment circle, butter side down onto the top of each bowl.
- Get a large enough piece of aluminum foil to cover each bowl down the sides of the bowl by at least 4 inches, fold the sheet of foil in half and then create a 1-inch wide pleated fold in the center (see photo below).
- Lightly press the foil on the top and down the sides of each bowl to get the foil as snug as possible.
- Wrap a piece of string tightly around the bowl and just under the lip of each bowl. Do this twice.
- To make the handle: Take additional string, double it up, with one end tie a knot around the strings wrapping the bowl lid and then on the opposite side with the other end (see below photo).
- Cut away any excess foil.
- Bring the pot of water to a boil, using the string handle, carefully place each bowl into the pot of boiling water, making sure that the water does not cover the bowls.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook for 8 hours, checking every hour to ensure the water level doesn’t drop. If you need to add more water do so then bring the pot back to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
- After 8 hours your Chrismas pudding is cooked, carefully remove the bowls from the pot and place on a rack to cool.
- When cooled remove the string, foil and parchment paper.
- Your Christmas pudding is ready to serve, however, you can wrap each pudding in parchment paper, store in a cool and dry place, until you are ready to serve it.
- Serve with warm cognac cream sauce (recipe below).
- You can also serve this with whipped cream, ice cream or the brandy (cognac) butter sauce found on www.bbcgoodfood.com.
Cognac cream sauce (for desserts):
- Heat the heavy whipping cream, cognac, and pinch of salt in a small sauce pot on medium high heat.
- In a small mixing bowl beat the egg and sugar until “ribbons” in the egg mixture appear but do not dissipate quickly.
- While still whisking slowly pour the hot cream and cognac mixture.
- This step is called “tempering” the eggs. You are slowly raising the temperature of the eggs without cooking them and turning them into scrambled eggs.
- When half of the cream and cognac mixture is blended with the egg mixture pour the egg mixture back into the saucepot with the rest of the cream and cognac.
- Continue to whisk on low heat until the sauce has thickened.
- The cognac cream sauce for dessert is ready to serve but keep warm.