Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas pudding. But it is overwhelming. And on top of the gluttonous dishes ingested before it on Christmas Day, this suety contender for the “chieftan o’ the puddin’ race” tends to settle like mortar at the end of a long dinner.
There are two ways to dissipate the richness of the pudding without losing the special flavours of mulled spices and dried fruits. And these also add some light luxury to the proceedings.
Christmas Bread & Butter Pudding
This made in the traditional way except here you have alternate layers of pudding and brioche or panettone, with the egg custard poured over the top. Make sure each bit of the bread is endowed with this emulsion, so that the whole thing glistens with delight as it emerges from the oven.
Christmas Pudding Eton Mess
It’s another reformed standard, and can be thrown together at the last moment. You need some meringues and the cooked pudding broken into smallish, mouth-sized pieces. Fold them both into a bowl of cream, whipped with a few drops of vanilla. Reduce any form of fruity alcohol (I like to use Pedro Ximénez) with a cinnamon stick, star anise, or any spices you can find, and pour the syrupy sauce over the top
Have a Pomegranate Christmas
At this time of year, you will find pomegranates abounding in most grocer’s shops. Cut one in half and hit the outside of the fruit with a heavy spoon, or the handle of a knife, knocking the seeds out into a bowl. This avoids all the bitter pith. You can sprinkle these over almost anything: they add cheerful colour and Christmas pizzazz to everything from the puddings above to your Brussels sprouts.