Pudding for Christmas

Posted on December 26th, 2008

As a North American, I think of pudding as a thickened custard-like dessert that you eat with a spoon. To an English person, pudding is something else, generally meaning a steamed cake-like dessert served in a ramekin, or inverted onto a dish.

One of my favourites is sticky toffee pudding: deep, dark, date-based cake served warm with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. In Vancouver, Burgoo does a decent version of it, except that it’s a little bit too sweet. In 2006, Haagen Dazs held a contest to develop a new ice cream flavour, and sticky toffee pudding was the winner. Now, I’m not usually a fan of ice cream with “stuff” in it, but I lurrrrve Haagen Dazs sticky toffee pudding ice cream. I’m so glad that it has been upgraded to a permanent flavour.

Then there’s traditional Christmas pudding: heavy, dense, spicy, sweet steamed pudding. It’s made with a variety of fruits and spices, but also with a heavy dose of suet (read: beef fat). I have unpleasant memories of my hotel days, making a week’s worth of Christmas puddings for the holiday buffet. Have you ever seen ten pounds of beef fat go into a recipe? It ain’t pretty.

So, I’m less a fan of eating Christmas pudding, but I love the ritual and tradition surrounding it. It’s not a dessert that you can throw together at the last minute – it requires planning, care and time, and makes you appreciate how much work it takes to create something. Also, there’s a great detail about burying a coin or toy in the pudding – if you get the hidden treasure in your serving, it’s supposed to bring you good luck.

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2 Comments to “Pudding for Christmas”

  1. Kate says:

    I am fairly certain ours is a vegetarian Christmas Pudding! Ew, I can’t even imagine beef fat in it. It’s definitely our tradition, my Mum makes it a week or two or three ahead of Christmas Day, and sometimes makes one for my Aunt or my Sister at the same time, as they are well-wrapped.
    What I don’t get is how we are supposed to have room for it at the end of an already big Christmas dinner! It’s served with hard sauce which is made out of butter, brown sugar and brandy, which just adds to the richness.
    That Haagen Dazs sounds amazing

  2. I accidentally made a hard sauce for Christmas brunch waffles, by which I mean that I threw together a sauce of butter, brown sugar and brandy (and bananas – B4 sauce?). Just because. It was delicious.

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