15 December, 2006

December recipe: Alternative Christmas Pudding

This is my contribution to Marg and Kailana’s 2006 Advent Blog Tour. If you’re following the Tour, welcome!

Traditional Christmas Pudding can be a bit on the heavy side after the traditional huge Christmas turkey-with-everything-you-can-possibly-think-of dinner. Besides, with mince pies and Christmas fruit cake there’s rather a lot of dried fruit around, and it is possible to have too much of a good thing. So when it’s my turn to do the Christmas catering, I often make this chocolate sponge pudding instead of the usual plum pudding. It’s sweet and rich, the sauce is festively alcoholic, and it’s light enough to be a pleasure even after a big meal.

It’s known in the family as Stockbroker’s Pudding because it’s a modified version of a recipe I found in the Financial Times, back in the distant days when my job involved reading it (yes, that austere and august financial publication runs a cookery column on Saturdays, or at least it did in the early 90s. Not many people know that). If you’re feeling flush, you can substitute the cooking sherry in the sauce with brandy or whisky, in which case I suppose it should be called Merchant Banker’s Pudding :-)

Serves 8.

Stockbroker’s Pudding

Chocolate pudding:
1 oz (approx 25 g) cocoa
4 oz (approx 125 g) butter
4 oz (approx 125 g) granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp (1 x 5 ml spoon) vanilla essence
6 oz (approx 160 g) self-raising flour
1 Tablespoon (approx 15 ml) milk to mix

1 wine glass cooking sherry (or brandy or whisky if you prefer)
4 Tablespoons (4 x 15 ml spoons) clear honey
0.5 pint (approx 280 ml) milk
0.25 pint (approx 140 ml) double cream (I think this is called heavy cream in the US?)
juice of 2 lemons
1 heaped Tablespoon (1 x 15 ml spoon) cornflour (heaped means piled as high as it will go)

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs and vanilla essence.
Mix the cocoa into a paste with 1 Tablespoon (1 x 15 ml spoon) of hot water. Beat into the eggs/sugar/butter mixture.
Fold in the flour and add enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency (i.e., the mixture is soft enough that a spoonful will just drop off the spoon).
Put in a greased pudding basin, cover, and steam for 1.5 hours approximately, until set and risen. You can make the pudding to this stage the day before, if you like, then all you have to do on Christmas Day itself is heat up the sponge and make the sauce as follows:

Mix the cornflour to a paste with a little cold milk.
Put the rest of the milk in a small saucepan. Stir in the cornflour paste and heat the mixture gently until it comes to the boil, stirring all the time. When it boils, the sauce will thicken.
Reduce the heat, then stir in the honey, followed by the lemon juice and alcohol.
Beat in the cream and remove from the heat.
Turn the chocolate sponge out onto a plate, pour the sauce over it, and serve.

Happy Christmas, one and all!


CindyS said...

Wow!! Is this recipe for those who are fairly crafty in the kitchen? ;) Just wondering how you steam something? Is this a double boiler thing? (Take a pot of boiling water and then place your container with the food on top - we even have special pots that create this but some just put a stainless steel bowl over the pot of water).

This just seems like something I would be scrapping off the bottom but with the brandy I know my family wouldn't care ;)


Carla said...

Hello Cindy and thanks for dropping by. It's not a difficult recipe at all - one reason it's become a Christmas tradition is that it's uncomplicated, which is a boon at this time of year when there's so much to do! Yes, I think a double boiler must be much the same thing. Over here you can get a thing called a steamer (picture here), which is a container with small holes in the bottom. You put your covered pudding bowl in the steamer, sit the steamer over a saucepan of boiling water, and the steam frm the boiling water comes up through the holes and cooks the pudding. It can't burn and it can't over-cook, all you have to do is make sure the water in the bottom saucepan doesn't boil dry. You can just sit the pudding bowl in the boiling water (as long as the water doesn't come high enough up to get into the bowl), and this is the way puddings were traditionally cooked before some clever soul invented the steamer, but I've never tried it. I'm also told that you can microwave the pudding instead of steaming it, but again I've never tried this - I should think you'd treat it like a sponge cake. Hope this helps!

CindyS said...

Hey, I have a steamer but I thought it was only for vegetables. duh ;)


Bernita said...

Reminds me to also hunt up a recipe for Tipsy Parson Cake.

Carla said...

Cindy - Aha, it can be used for chocolate pudding too :-)

Bernita - is it the cake that's tipsy, or the parson?

Bernita said...

As I remember the origin, the parson was obliged to visit successive households and, for courtesy, partake of tea at each. The profferred, traditional cake was liberally dosed with rum; and, by the time he finished his rounds, the parson was tipsy.

Bernita said...

Wishing you a blessed Cristes maesse, Carla, and much mirth.

Carla said...

Thank you, Bernita, and the same to you and your family.