Christmas pud is a big deal over here but doesn't feature much in the festive meals of our American cousins... but is that because they have yet to discover the perfect pudding recipe? One of our US colleagues, Rebecca, tells us how she had her tastebuds tickled by this fruity fare and now is in love with our great British tradition...
"I’m not sure when Christmas pudding entered my consciousness. Maybe it was the, 'Now, bring us a figgy pudding' line in 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas'. Or maybe a viewing of 'A Christmas Carol', with the Cratchits enjoying their meagre feast.
At any rate, I was intrigued by the thought of anyone having pudding for dessert on Christmas – thinking (logically, for a child) of the Jell-O Instant variety. (The only kind we ate in our house because the cooked stuff got that icky skin on top.) Only later did I learn that Christmas pudding was something else entirely. And then, I really wanted to make one.
In the years B.I. (Before Internet), finding a recipe for a classic Christmas pudding was a tall order. I searched for years and tried several that tasted awful or just flat-out failed. I thought I might have to give up on the pudding and content myself with fruitcake (for which I had a wonderful recipe).
Then, one day, I got talking Christmas pudding with a Lands’ End colleague who was raised in Ireland. She told me her mom made a wonderful pudding and she’d be happy to share the recipe. Carmella made a phone call and soon, I had a tried-and-true recipe in my hot little hands.
I know you’re wondering why I’m telling you about this now (especially if you’re one of the 'Why are they talking about Christmas already?' crowd). Well, because Christmas pudding is a process. You don’t just get up on Christmas Eve and make it for company the next day. It requires time to make and time to…uh…mature. Starting now is only prudent. Heck, some people make their pudding a year in advance. I just pulled one out of my refrigerator that’s two years old. I need to re-steam this thing and eat it! (No, I’m not kidding. If made and stored properly, a 2-year-old pudding is perfectly safe to eat.)
There are several reasons to make Christmas pudding:
- Alcohol (hard liquor and a fermented beverage of some sort) is a main ingredient
- Yummy fruit and nuts
- You baste it with more alcohol as it ages
- You pour alcohol over the top and set it on fire before serving
Seriously, though – it’s super yummy. (And not just because of the liquor – though that obviously helps.) I have family and friends who are hardened fruitcake haters – and every one of them loves this Christmas pudding. It’s easy to make, too. Yeah…I know it looks complicated, but there really isn’t that much active time involved. And because you make it way ahead of time, there’s the joy of knowing you won’t have to struggle with a fiddly dessert on Christmas Day.
So here is Carmella’s mom’s recipe. I halved it, because a whole recipe makes enough pudding to feed a small army. (If you want to make some for this year and next – and maybe the year after that – go ahead and double it.) I included some notes of my own."
If you do give it a go, be sure to let us know what you think!