Mini Christmas PuddingsPosted: November 18, 2018
Well, friends, I’m afraid it’s that time of year where we must turn our thoughts to next month’s festive season. As menu planning seems to get earlier and earlier each year, if I am to SURPRISE and DELIGHT your festive table, I need to be even more ahead of the game, so here we are.
I like traditional Christmas Pudding. I like its dark richness, studded with jewel-like fruits, crunchy nuts and tangy peel. I like its dense nature and the accompanying wide choice of accessories with which you can adorn your plate: pouring cream, whipped cream, clotted cream, custard, white sauce, brandy butter, rum butter…
What I’m not so keen on is facing it after a comprehensive but daunting Christmas Day lunch with all the trimmings, after a morning that has invariably involved snacks both sweet and savoury. By the time pudding is served, no-one usually has the energy or the inclination to do it justice.
So what I have for you here is an alternative. Something that satisfies the craving for the traditional flavours, without the, lets not deny it, heaviness of a traditional pudding. Just look at it! ”Bejewelled” is not an exaggeration, especially when served on a sparkling glass dish. As a bonus, it doesn’t involve any heavy mixing and steaming and re-steaming.
A riotous mix of dried fruits, nuts and peel is macerated in alcohol (not compulsory, fruit juice is absolutely fine), then set in a tangy, lemon jelly in little moulds. The flavours stay bright and fresh, the portions are small, and tradition can still be observed. The jelly acts as a palate cleanser, really waking up the tastebuds in preparation for the ensuing onslaught of nuts, chocolates and drinks as the rest of the day trundles on. It’s gluten-free and can also be vegetarian/vegan with the use of appropriate setting agents for the lemon jelly.
I used a silicone mould like this. It’s known as a half-sphere or hemisphere mould. Each shape is of diameter 55mm. It is the perfect size for individual desserts and one of my most used silicon moulds.
Mini Christmas Puddings
These quantities make eight mini puddings. You may have a little lemon jelly left over, but just set it by itself for a delicious, refreshing mouthful.
40g prunes, diced fine
40g candied peel, diced fine
40g glace cherries, each cut into 8 pieces
20g preserved ginger, chopped
20g flaked or slivered almonds
80ml cream sherry or apple juice
2 sheets gelatine (or vegan/vegetarian alternative)
2tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
2tbs caster sugar
- Mix the fruit and nuts and pour over the sherry/juice. Leave to soak for 2 hours. If, at the end of this time, the fruit hasn’t absorb all of the liquid, try zapping it briefly in the microwave to warm it through.
- Put the mould onto a baking sheet or tin to give it stability. Spoon the mixture into your individual moulds and smooth over.
- Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for 10 minutes.
- Heat the 150ml of water in the microwave or in a pan, and add the sugar and lemon juice. Stir until dissolved. Adjust the taste with more of either or both as liked.
- Squeeze the gelatine sheets free of excess water and add to the lemon syrup. Stir until dissolved.
- Pour the lemon jelly into each mould, allowing the jelly to seep between the fruit and fill all the little gaps. Tap the baking tray lightly onto the work surface to get rid of any air bubbles and add more jelly as required.
- Lay a piece of cling film lightly over the surface on the mould, to prevent evaporation, and chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours until firm.
- To serve, loosen the jellies by standing the mould in hot water for 10-15 seconds before turning them out.
- Serve with cream and/or brandy butter.