In the cold mid-winter of the Northern hemisphere, a warming christmas pudding with flaming brandy seems like the perfect end to a Christmas meal and I confess that the idea of eating christmas pudding in the heat of an Australian summer seems somewhat at odds. Then again, a meal without christmas pudding in some way shape or form is unthinkable for many Australian gatherings, even if it’s simply served as a small addition to a larger dessert spread.
If you have gone to the trouble to make your own pudding, or have bought one to serve up, you will have a couple of choices.
It’s very good served at room temperature, and indeed, that’s often the preference for meals eaten in the heat of the day. Some cooks crumble some christmas pudding into a tub of ice cream the day before for a lighter, cold alternative that still resonates with the flavours we love.
If you want a warmed-up dessert, you can steam the pudding in it’s container or the pudding basin you made it in for 2 hours to heat it through. This adds more heat to an already-hot kitchen and is recommended only if you are averse to heating it up in the microwave. I heat mine in the microwave. You can heat it, whole, for about 3-4 minutes on medium-high power (about 70%) or you can do as my mother does and simply heat individual slices for 20-30 seconds on High.
The traditional accompaniment to christmas pudding is hard sauce. Hard sauce is butter whisked with brandy and softened with icing sugar until it resembles soft cake icing but tastes like nectar. As it spreads over hot slices of pudding, so it melts and the fire in the brandy softens somewhat, but this is still an adults-only addition to your meal. Those wanting to make things more kids-friendly will need to either add a rum or brandy essence, or add orange zest and a squeeze of orange juice to flavour it differently.
This recipe is from Mietta’s Recipe Collection
Makes 2 cups, enough for 8-10 serves
1 Christmas pudding; 100g butter; 1 cup icing sugar; 1 tbsp brandy or rum, to taste OR 1-2 tsp brandy or rum essence OR 2 tsp finely grated orange zest and juice of ½ orange; 1 egg white
To reheat the pudding:
Steaming: Place the pudding in the pudding basin it was originally cooked in and cover with a fresh double layer of foil, then tie string around the edges to hold the foil lid in place. Place a small plate or upturned bowl in the bottom of a large pot and sit the pudding basin on top. Fill the saucepan with enough water to come one-third of the way up the sides of the basin. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and steam for two hours. Turn out the pudding onto a serving platter.
Place pudding, unwrapped, on a serving platter or microwave-proof plate and cover with clingwrap. Heat on Medium-High (70% power) for 3 minutes. Check heat in the centre of the pudding by inserting a bamboo skewer into the centre of the pudding, then holding the skewer against your lips. If required, heat again for a further 2 minutes. Serve.
Alternatively, serve at room temperature, then cut small slices at the table and heat individual serves for 20 seconds on High.
Using electric beaters, cream butter until soft. It should be the colour of thick cream. Sift icing sugar, add to butter and beat until white and light. Work brandy into mixture.
Hard sauce can be made up to a week ahead and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. It’s not called Hard Sauce for nothing and may need to be whisked gently to loosen it up before serving.
$3.00 for hard sauce plus cost of pudding