For the month of December, Robyn picked a very seasonal recipe to display in the calendar. (She also mailed me another totally original home-made calendar full of fab recipes for 2011 - yippee!) Fruit puddings have never had much of a role in my family's Christmas traditions and their heaviness doesn't appeal to me in our summer setting. But this is a recipe for bite-sized balls of choc-topped pudding and I could buy into that. (It turns out that such mini puddings are a Christmas tradition of their own in some families.)
This kind of presentation - the ball rolling, the suspended-mid-drip white chocolate 'custard', and the holly-coloured sprinkles - is fancier that what I usually go in for, but it's really not too difficult. What I mean is, it's not piping. (Oh, lord, how I hate piping.) It just calls for a knife, a teaspoon, and a wee bit of patience. And you get a whole lot of cute for your efforts.
I made my first batch keeping almost true to the original recipe (making a couple of minor convenience substitutions) and shared them with my colleagues at our work Christmas party (they're pictured up top). Then I made some more substantive changes and contributed a second vegan and gluten-free batch to Lisa's Xmas potluck (pictured just above). Here I replaced the crumbled sponge cake with the only vegan and gluten-free biscuits I could access, Leda Gingernuts, used Bonvita rice milk white chocolate on the advice of my vegan Facebook brains trust, and scrounged some leftover red jellies from my icecream party in lieu of the long-gone glace cherries for the garnish.
I reckon my vegan, gluten-free mini-puddings looked just as great, if not better than, my first more traditional run. They tasted pretty good too, though the crumbled biscuits had them a little sandier and more sugary than the originals. If you can find a light cake that fits your dietary constraints, I'd definitely recommend it over the biscuits.
This was the perfect calendar recipe - something I wouldn't normally choose to make, nudging me to expand my skills, with a rewarding result that I'd happily make again. These just might become a new where's the beef? Christmas tradition.
Xmas pudding bites
(it looks very much as if Robyn sourced the recipe from here)
1 cup raisins, chopped
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup dry roasted almonds
300g sponge cake, crumbled
200g dark chocolate
100g white chocolate
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
pistachios and glace cherries to garnish
vegan, gluten-free alternative ingredients (also a half-quantity)
1/2 cup raisins, chopped
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 cup dry roasted almonds
155g packet vegan gluten-free gingernuts, crushed
100g vegan dark chocolate
50g vegan white chocolate
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
pistachios and vegan gluten-free red jellies to garnish
In a small saucepan, stir together the raisins, currants, brown sugar, brandy and orange juice. Simmer the fruit for 3 minutes, then set it aside to cool.
Blend the almonds to a coarse meal in a food processor. Mix them together with the cake/biscuit crumbs in a large bowl, then stir through the cooled fruit mixture. Gently melt the dark chocolate and add it to the bowl, stirring to combine. The mixture should have formed a firm and slightly crumbly dough.
Roll inch-diameter balls from the pudding mixture, place them on a lined tray and refrigerate until firm.
Finely chop the red and green garnishes. Gently melt the white chocolate and oil together so that they're silky and quite liquid. Drizzle the white chocolate over the pudding balls and sprinkle over the garnish. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set, and continue to store them there until serving. (They can last at least a few hours out of the fridge in cool conditions.)