Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Tales from the Pudding Front

How it should have been...

First of all, a word of advice. Do not attempt the making of this dessert whilst 3 baileys/beers/glasses of wine/[insert drink of choice] to the better on Christmas Eve. If you’re sober and ready, then we’ll begin. 

First, the meringue. Separate egg whites from yolks. You’ll need only 6 but will actually use 8 as at least 2 of them will scramble during the separating process. Add sugar and whisk until stiff peaks. Do not attempt to do this by hand. Use electric whisk or spend Christmas Day asking passers by to cut up your food because your wrists have given up. 

Split the mix into 2, creating a sort of indent on one of them which will form a space for the creams and whatnot, and bake at 100 (electric fan oven). You have successfully completed the easy bit. Go and lie down while it bakes. Have another drink. Well done you. 

Now, raise yourself from the sofa and sift the cocoa powder into the double cream. Watch it drift and settle over every surface. Congratulations! You now have a brown kitchen and a speckled Baileys. Add the sugar and whisk in. 

Stop! Not that much. Now you have curdled chocolate cream. Start again. 

This next step calls for ground hazelnuts except you couldn’t find ground hazelnuts and the man in the shop thought you were mad asking for it: “Ground hazelnuts? Do people want ground hazelnuts? Nah. Ground almonds though.”

Sigh and buy the chopped hazelnuts, figuring you can grind them yourself with a rolling pin. This you can now do. At some point your rolling pin will slip and partially ground hazelnuts will scatter across the counter and onto the floor. Make sure you’re working on a very clean work surface before you begin or the damned nuts will also contain cat biscuits and crisp crumbs. 

Fold these, the vanilla (extract because, again, you couldn’t find ground vanilla ANY WHERE) and suspect the recipe makers are fucking with you. Ditto ground cardamom (leave that one out, no one will know)). Add the liquor of choice: one for the pudding, one for you etc. 

Spread the chocolate cream over the meringues and sandwich together, covering the top one with more choc cream. Do not press too hard or you will have invented Tabletop Eton Mess and have to start again. 

Realise at this point that you forgot the first steps which was to make a super-chocolatey cream involving double cream and bitter chocolate melting together. Raise your hands to the sky and ask the Kitchen Gods why they are making this so hard. At this point significant others in the room will find reasons to leave..."pub's about to shut and I really need...peanuts...YES! Peanuts!"

Decide to improvise by making vanilla cream (again, no one will know). Make vanilla cream without bothering the wash the fucking bowls for the fourth fucking time that day. You now have mildly chocolatey vanilla cream. It will taste fine, don’t worry about it. Wrestle this into plastic tub, getting the spatula stuck between the tines of the whisk. Abandon both in washing up bowl. 

Now to deseed the pomegranate. It is a good idea to warn loved ones that you are doing it so that when they walk into the kitchen they do not fall to their knees screaming "but it was only a pudding, there was no need for murder!" This is because pomegranates are EVIL and will splatter bright red juice over you, all surfaces, walls, cupboard doors, appliances, floors, livestock and all stationary objects within a 100 metre radius. Congratulations! You now look like a crime scene. 

Decide that you will take all constituent parts (meringues, creams, seeds and other decorative items) and assemble in situ on Christmas Day with small children because that will be FUN. You will assume this because Christmas has made you lose your mind. Go and lie down in darkened room, leaving clearing up to those lucky bastards that escaped to the pub. They will be shifting sticky sugar and cocoa mixes for hours. Probably a good idea to have a bath. 

On the day, carefully transport the pudding components, along with a billion bags of presents, unsent cards that will now be hand delivered to relatives (so much nicer!), the entire beer supply of your local shop and several overnight bags of anxiety, stress and familial angst. 

After present carnage and gluttony at the table, gather small children unto you and attempt to guide them. 

"No, we squeeze the piping bag from the top."
"Please don't hit each other with the spatula."
"Yes, the gold dust is pretty but you shouldn't squirt it in each other's eyes."
"I really think that's enough cream in that spot."
"Maybe if we try spreading it..."
"Yes, that did make a rude noise when you squeezed it."
"No, I don't think we should just throw the pomegranate seeds in the bin."
"Could you not see if you can get gold sprinkles in your brother's ear?"

You are now covered in sticky substances and gold dust. Serve and eat. Silently cast curses in the direction of those refusing it: "I really couldn't, I'm so full" (may all their sandwiches be dry turkey ones). Bask in delighted noises from those that do eat it: "this is soooo delicious!", "bloody hell, how much Baileys is in here?"

The meringue is perfectly chewy yet crisp on the outside. The creams are boozily delicious. There is enough sugar to take them all down with diabetes. It is a triumph. Get another drink and make those who were TOO FULL to try it, do the clearing up. 

Note: unused pomegranate seeds (i.e. all of the damn things) are good in gin. 

The actual messy reality which WAS totally delicious and 
any lapses in good taste, structural integrity or artistic arrangements 
should not now or ever be placed at the feet of the original recipe 
designers, but are entirely down to REALITY getting in the way. 


  1. Wonderful, just wonderful. I laughed and laughed. Oh the 'how it should look photo', who on earth can achieve this stuff??? And really, who is ever too full for meringue? That is the whole point of meringue. Well done for persevering when lesser women would have thrown in the tea towel. And you know they will want another one next year. CJ xx

    1. HA!I am still slightly deranged from the whole experience but I thought it was too funny to not retell and I'm glad that's the case! Exactly my point: no one is ever TOO FULL for meringue which is essentially air and sugar. Their cards have been marked...I vote we put them on pudding duty next year. Txx

  2. loved this, like CJ I laughed and laughed too. I think I would have to lie down in the darkened room just reading the instructions. I am sure that is why I never make puddings they all sound way to scary for me to even try.

    I had a murder scene here today too, pomegranate (and beetroot which I was coincidently also preparing) were a winning combination to create the best effect.

    1. Oh yes, beetroot is another good one for the splatter effect! Given that I much prefer raw beets to cooked, this is a common occurrence in my kitchen.
      Really pleased the post made you laugh :) A good antidote to all the cookery shows with their perfect puddings!


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