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Native to Great Britain, this festive dessert is known for its density and intense Christmas spices, dried fruit, and brandy. Similar to an American fruit cake, Christmas pudding is more like a loaf cake packed with an assortment of fruits (like purple raisins, golden raisins, prunes, dried currants, and crystallized ginger) that soak overnight in booze and orange zest.Straying from the tradition of using brandy, we found that incorporating Southern bourbon instead adds a mighty delicious layer to this holiday treat. Butter, brown sugar, and molasses are beaten together to make a rich and sweet base before the soaked fruit is mixed in with breadcrumbs, flour, and some ground almonds. This unique mix of dry ingredients make the optimal center for the pudding, because it easily retains and holds moisture. The most exotic part of the cooking process is that rather than baking the pudding, it’s steamed for several hours in a covered pot. The gentle heat of the steam and the wet environment in which the pudding is cooked make the inside extra moist.We brush our Christmas Pudding with a bourbon simple syrup to further moisten the outside and to enhance the bourbon flavor. Lastly, we serve a slice of the warm dessert with a liquid vanilla custard. It might not be the most American dessert on your Christmas table, but it might be the most delicious.

Micah A Leal


Credit: Micah A. Leal

Recipe Summary test

30 mins
30 mins


Vanilla Crème Anglaise


Instructions Checklist
  • Mix dried fruit, ginger, and orange zest in a bowl or jar. Pour bourbon over fruit and let soak overnight.

  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar, and molasses until lightened and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, waiting for the first to incorporate before adding the second. Beat until fluffy. Incorporate the dried fruit-bourbon mixture. In a separate bowl, stir together bread crumbs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and gently stir to combine.

  • Prepare a tall pot or Dutch oven by placing a shallow ramekin or dish in the bottom of the pot. Grease a 2 pint (1.1 litre) pudding basin (or glass bowl with a lip around the edge) with butter. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the circle at the bottom of the bowl and place it inside the greased basin. Transfer batter to the basin and press around the surface to remove any pockets of air. Cut a piece of parchment paper 4 inches wider than the surface of the pudding basin. Fold it in half. Do the same with a piece of aluminum foil. Reopen both pieces of parchment and aluminum and stack the aluminum on top of the paper so that the creases align. Set over the top of the pudding basin and tie kitchen twine tightly over the aluminum foil underneath the lip of the basin, creating a slightly domed “lid” for the basin. Set inside the prepared pot (on top of the ramekin) and fill the pot with water so that it comes halfway up the side of the basin. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring the water to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, put a lid on the pot, and steam the Pudding for 5 hours, checking every hour to add more water if needed.

  • Carefully remove basin from pot. Remove kitchen twine, parchment paper, and aluminum foil. Allow to cool slightly before running a knife around the top edge of the basin. Invert Christmas Pudding onto a serving platter.

  • Make Syrup: In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, and bourbon. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat.

  • Make Vanilla Crème Anglaise: Heat milk and cream in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat just until bubbles and steam appear (do not boil). Reduce heat to low. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a bowl; gradually whisk in one-fourth of hot milk mixture. Gradually add warm egg mixture to remaining hot milk mixture, whisking constantly; cook, whisking constantly, 7 minutes or until mixture thinly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla. Pour though a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl.

  • Brush surface of Pudding generously with Syrup. Serve slices of Christmas Pudding with Vanilla Crème Anglaise.

Chef's Note

The Christmas Pudding should be served warm, so if you make it in advance, simply return it to the pudding basin and place it in a Dutch oven with boiling water to steam for an hour before serving.