It seems like you can’t read a Yuletide tale or sing a carol without mentioning particular puddings by name. But just where to these festive goops come from, and what’s inside of them? We decided to debunk some of December’s sweetest treats that you’ve definitely heard about, even if you’ve never seen or tasted them. So let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first:
We start with the grandaddy of all December delectables: the appropriately named Christmas pudding. Also known as plum pudding, this dish is a staple of British Christmas dinner, but has become popular in several of their former colonies as well. Its blend of molasses (called treacle in Britain), sugar, spices, and suet (i.e. cow fat) is steamed and then covered in brandy before being set on fire as a popular holiday centerpiece.
“Now bring us some figgy pudding” as the refrain of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” goes. So, here it is. This seasonal favorite is essentially the same as a Christmas pudding but with the sweet addition of (wait for it) figs. It’s a perfect twist on the classic flavor and allows you to maintain the flaming pizzazz of the original.
If you’re on the subject of puddings this holiday season, do yourself and your loved ones a favor by skipping over black pudding. While it’s pretty standard in several European countries, blood sausage is still a pretty hard sell in America. Using dried pigs blood, barley or oatmeal, and blend of spices, wheat flour, and hog fats, this conspicuously colored “pudding” is a great source of iron—but a terrible choice for holiday cheer.
This is one pudding that has definitely made its way stateside, and all for the better. Mixing stale bread in a suspension of milk, cream, eggs and butter makes this dish equal parts creamy and hearty. Then, throw in sugar and spice and dried fruit (esp. raisins) and you’ve got a winning combination.
If you’re hearing about this in December, it’s probably from a toddler, and he or she probably wants the instant variety served with a few Nilla Wafers. But the fancy-pants, original concoction is no slouch either. First off, the pudding should actually be sweet vanilla flavored custard, separating layers of lady fingers, or vanilla wafer cookies topped with fresh sliced bananas and whipped cream or meringue. It’s enough to make you go ape!
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Again, English people just have no freaking clue what pudding is. Or maybe we’re wrong. Like the Christmas pudding and figgy puddings before it, the sticky toffee pudding is usually steamed for maximum moisture. Instead of figs, however, very finely chopped dates are added to the cake, which is then covered in a toffee sauce. And, yes, toffee sauce is the warm, liquid, orgasm-in-your-mouth flavor of melted British toffee. Custard and ice cream are optional additions, but come highly recommended.