Food for Thought – Recipes for Christmas Puddings

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by Linda Viertel

Every family has a favorite holiday dessert, no matter what celebration brings friends and family together. Tastes vary wildly between those who adore chocolate or vanilla, others who love fruit-based confections, and those who crave nut-based creations. So, why not prepare a few “Christmas puddings” that satisfy everyone’s cravings and combine taste preferences? You can flame them (if you wish) with a bit of warmed bourbon or liqueur and provide those gathered around your holiday table an exciting finish to your celebratory meal. Both selections are paired with a custardy cream sauce – a perfect complement to any dessert, in fact. So, take the time to make sure you chill the sauce and present it tableside to all assembled. They will be so glad you did…

(Note: none of these selections are the traditional British Christmas puddings made with suet and dried fruit, nor do they need to be cured, so don’t worry. They are, in fact, cakes, steamed on the stove top, so they are divinely moist. You can use traditional pudding molds with sealed tops or souffle molds covered tightly with tin foil.* These recipes are 21st century delectations, happily consumed by adults and children alike.

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Mrs. Reagan’s Persimmon Pudding

1 cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup flour, sifted
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 cup pureed persimmon pulp (3-4 very ripe fruits)
2 tsp. soda
2 tsp. warm water
3 tbsp. brandy
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup golden raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts
Brandy Whipped Cream Sauce (SEE BELOW)

Stir together sugar and melted butter. Whisk flour with salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then stir into butter mixture. Dissolve soda in warm water, add to butter mixture with persimmon pulp, brandy and vanilla. Add eggs, mixed lightly but thoroughly. Add raisins and nuts, stirring until just mixed. Turn into buttered 5-6 cup heat-proof mold. Cover tightly and place on rack in a large steep pot with boiling water halfway up sides of mold. Cover pot and simmer 2 and ½ hours. Let stand a few minutes. Unmold unto heatproof serving plate. Pour about ¼ cup warmed brandy over pudding and flame. Serve with Brandy Whipped Cream Sauce.

Brandy Whipped Cream Sauce

1 egg
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
Dash salt
1 tbsp. Brandy
1 cup whipping cream

Beat egg until light and fluffy. Beat in butter, sugar, salt and brandy. Beat whipping cream until stiff. Gently fold into egg mixture. Cover and chill.



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Steamed Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding

6 ounces semisweet
3 tbsp. water
½ cup unsalted butter,
2/3 cup sugar
5 egg yoks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. dark rum
½ cup finely ground, roasted
and peel hazelnuts
2/3 cup dry bread crumbs,
finely ground
5 egg whites
Crème Anglaise (below)

Break chocolate into small pieces, combine with water and heat carefully in a heavy saucepan, stirring until chocolate is melted. Set aside. Place butter in medium bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in 1/3 cup sugar until light in color. Then add egg yolks to sugar mixture one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla, rum and baking powder. Stir in chocolate. Combine nuts and bread crumbs and stir into egg mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/3 cup sugar and beat until whites for soft, glossy peaks. Immediately add 1/3 of whites into chocolate mixture. Gently fold in remaining whites. Fill mold no more than 2/3 full. Cover and steam for 1 hour, 20 minutes. Unmold and serve warm with crème anglaise.

Crème Anglaise (from

½ cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
½ cup whipping cream
3 tbsp. sugar
1 2-inch piece vanilla bean, split

Combine milk and cream in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring milk mixture to simmer. Remove from heat.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Stir over low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about minutes (do not boil). Strain sauce into bowl, Cover and chill. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)


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