Actual image of the author (as a child) demanding her Carrot/Christmas Pudding.
Every year around about August or so, my daughter will ask, "Mom, will you make Christmas Pudding? Puullllleeeez?"
"Is it Christmas already? My how time flies! And where's the snow? Hey, maybe there is something to this global warming thing!" I reply, in my finest smart ass fashion.
The pudding she is referring to is a traditional English style “boiled” or "steamed" pudding similar to that in Dickens’ Christmas Carol. My mother made it every year and so do I!
This is a moist, rich cake which is best served warm and dripping with hard sauce (see recipe below). You really don't taste the carrots and potatoes as themselves, they just kind of blend in creating a pleasant mushy-ness. Kind of like carrot cake except stickier and with loads of spices!
And the rule is: Christmas pudding is only made at Christmastime. No exceptions.
1 egg, slightly beaten (just smack it around until it whimpers)
1 cup grated raw carrot
1 cup grated raw potato
1/2 cup salad oil
1/4 cup sour milk (you can make sour milk by mixing sweet milk with a tsp of vinegar - stir and - presto - curdled milk!)
1 tsp salt
1 cut white sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but use whatever you've got)
Mix all wet ingredients then add flour, spices (I usually use more spices than called for), and fruit, mixing well.
Grease a 2 pound coffee can (yes, the tin kind - not the newfangled plastic ones) or a mold and pour in batter. Tie cheesecloth (and you always wondered what that stuff was for when you saw it in the store, didn't you??) around the top of the mold. For an extra authentic touch, tie it on with that white string I used to make a million string balls out of - you know the kind I mean if you're as old as I am.
Put the mold in a deep kettle (like a stock pot or canner). Put something in the bottom to elevate the mold and add enough water to reach the botttom of the mold. Bring water to a slow boil (just like you're feeling right about now with dinner to cook, presents to finish wrapping, etc. etc.) and steam pudding for about 3 hours or until you get around to checking it. Pudding is done when you press lightly on the top and it springs back. (You may not spring back quite so easily - especially if you've been sampling the brandy for the hard sauce.)
BE SURE TO FREQUENTLY CHECK THE WATER AND REPLENISH AS NECESSARY. I have a great big ol' burn in the bottom of my stock pot because I got too busy with the brandy...
Tricky, but worth it. This can be made with our without alcohol (who are we kidding here?? OK - if you must make if without alcohol for the children, make another one JUST for you!) Hint: bring the heavy cream and butter to room temperature before use (or you'll regret it and have to start over).
1/2 cup (1 stick) real butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream
Cream the butter (similar to the treatment the egg got in the previous recipe), gradually add powdered sugar a bit at a time. Slowly dribble in the heavy cream. Don't beat too much or it will curdle and separate (and then you'll have to have more brandy). Put it a serving dish and let sit. This stuff is also great on pancakes, waffles or just eaten with a big ol' spoon.
To add alcohol - make a dent in the hard sauce and add spirits of your choice an allow to permeate. If you did this properly, you too will be permeated by this time. You can also douse the whole shebang in alcohol and light your hair on fire if you like a bit of drama for dessert! (As if there isn't already enough drama with your family, but I digress...)
Heavenly when hard sauce melts into warm pudding...and no calories whatsoever!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to check on the brandy supply. I'm steamed because I had to type this whole damn recipe in because I am too tired after shoveling snow to figure out the HTML tags to get the stupid ingredient list to behave!
The author's actual brother before Mom (who had been checking the brandy supply) caught him messing with the Christmas pudding. There was precious little mirth after that...