For many, Christmas dinner is all about the pièce de résistance, the Christmas Pudding, a dessert shaped like an upside-down bowl that you pour brandy over and set fire to. The lights go out, before an eerie bluish-flaming surprise emerges from out of the kitchen to be placed upon the table, where it is then served with either cream, ice cream or brandy butter, in copious amounts, or a mix of the three - all amid carolling, cracker-pulling and grandad snoring.
This traditional fare warms both the stomach and the heart, and is wonderful for those who celebrate Christmas in colder climes. But what about those who come from areas of the globe that are a trifle1 warmer in December, such as Australia or New Zealand, who want to maintain the feeling of the traditional Englyshe Christmasse Dyner? They should try the following variation:
- 500g of milk chocolate for melting
- 1 litre (2 pints) of ice cream, either vanilla or chocolate
(chocolate/chocolate chip will give even more of an impression of the traditional style of pudding)
- 300g glacé fruits
(red and green cherries are favoured, but pineapple, apricots and pears will add a little more colour)
- A traditional Christmas pudding bowl/basin
Take your pudding bowl and cool it in the refrigerator for about half an hour. While the bowl is cooling, heat a saucepan over a medium heat and add your chocolate for melting. Once your chocolate has melted, take the pudding bowl out of the fridge. Now coat the interior with your melted chocolate sauce (about 0.5cm thick). Then replace the pudding bowl in the refrigerator. This will enable the chocolate to harden.
Now, get your vanilla or chocolate ice cream, either homemade or from the shop, and mix in all your glacé fruits. While your pudding bowl is cooling in the fridge, it makes sense to take your ice cream from the freezer - in the time that the bowl is cooling and your chocolate is melting, the ice cream should be defrosting, enabling you to mix in the glacé fruits without a problem. If you've forgotten to do that, simply give the ice cream a buzz in a microwave to melt it a bit for ease of mixing2.
Once you've mixed in your fruits and the ice cream is still a bit runny, take your pudding bowl with its chocolate coating out of the fridge and pour in your ice cream. At this point, you can mix in about two tablespoons of rum if you like, but it's not vital. Now put the bowl back in the freezer. Leave everything to set at least 12 hours (overnight). So it's best to make this on Christmas Eve if you can (or even beforehand if you're that organised).
After the ice cream pudding has solidified, take your bowl from the freezer. Boil some water and place the pudding bowl from the freezer in another larger bowl full of hot water. Allow to stand for 5 - 10 minutes, ensuring the hot water coats most of the pudding bowl, but does not leak into the top (or the bottom, as the case may be).
Now, here comes the tricky part. Put a plate over the bottom of your pudding bowl and flip everything over so the pudding bowl is sitting upside-down on the plate. If you've timed everything properly you should be able to slide off the bowl to leave yourself with a traditional Christmas Pudding looking ice cream, coated with hardened milk chocolate sauce.
Complete by putting some holly on the top, pop it back into the fridge in case some of the chocolate moulding has melted a bit too much, then take to the table when everyone is full of turkey and couldn't possibly fit in any more. Their eyes will light up...
NB: Do not pour brandy over the pudding and put a lit match to it. The resulting mess will not be popular with your dinner guests.
Keeping With Tradition
The chocolate-coated ice cream pudding is a fantastic hot weather replacement pudding, just right for Christmas Day in the Southern Hemisphere. Complement the dessert with a jug of ice-cold sangria, and you'll definitely have a Christmas to remember! Well, so long as you don't overdo the sangria...