By Nigella Lawson
Christmas pudding isn't for everyone and, even though I have faith in my pudding's ability to convert, there's no point nagging or, indeed, fighting against real, die-hard antipathies. Besides, I have never met a child who likes Christmas pudding, and it seems unfair not to give a treat to everyone.
The joy of this is that you can mix it all up in a processor while the Christmas pudding's in mid-steam (I dash into the kitchen in the middle of lunch to do just that, with ingredients measured out and ready, and bowl prepared) then put it into the top part of the steamer, while the Christmas pud steams in the bottom part. Obviously, you can steam it in a separate pan if you want.
Whatever, don't be put off by having to steam another pudding. It's easier than trying to juggle to find the oven space, and actually what makes the chocolate pudding Christmassy is that it looks like the traditional pudding (I've never gone in for those round, cannonball molds).
Steaming two puddings is really no harder than steaming one. But if you feel you can't be doing with making 2 puddings, keep children happy by providing good store-bought vanilla ice cream and red-white-and-green seasonal sprinkles to be scattered over at gleefully garish will.
Serves 10-16 as part of the Christmas feast, or 8-10 if not.
For The Sponge:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Heaping ¾ cup sugar
1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) soft butter
¼ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1½-quart Pyrex mixing bowl
For The Sauce:
¾ cup milk chocolate chips
¾ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup light corn syrup
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
Butter your heat-proof Pyrex mixing bowl. Make sure you have adequate boiling water in a pan (or a conventional steamer) on the stovetop to steam the sponge.
Put the flour and cocoa powder into a processor and blitz to get rid of any lumps.
Add all the remaining sponge ingredients to the processor and blitz, for longer this time, to mix. Take the lid off, scrape it down, then put the lid back on for 3 more long pulses. Scrape the chocolate batter into the prepared bowl, smooth it down (the batter will come only halfway up the bowl) and wrap the bowl, first, in parchment paper, then in a layer of aluminum foil, followed by a layer of plastic wrap and a second layer of foil, so no water could possibly get in. Stem in the boiling water in the pan or steamer for 1½ hours (by which time the sponge will have risen to about 1½ inches below the lip). To cook it for longer will do no harm.
To make the sauce, which can easily be done before you eat, and reheated just before you serve the pudding, put all the sauce ingredients into a saucepan and place over a gentle heat to melt, stirring every now and again and then whisking, off the heat, at the very end, to combine smoothly.
When the sponge is ready, remove it carefully from the pan or steamer without burning yourself, then unwrap from its foil and plastic wrap casing. Put a plate, or a stand, with a slight lip, on top, flip both upside down, so plate and sponge are the right way up, and wiggle off the bowl.
Pour some hot sauce over the sponge, so that it just covers the top and falls in glossy, licking drips down the side, and pour the rest of the sauce into a jug or bowl to be served with a spoon.
Make Ahead Tips:
Measure all the sponge ingredients the day before, ready to whiz together.
Make the chocolate sauce up to 1 week ahead, then cool and chill until needed, reheating gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Freeze Ahead Tip:
Make and freeze the chocolate sauce for up to 3 months, and reheat as above.
Ultimate Christmas Pudding
From "Nigella Christmas" by Nigella Lawson. Photographs by Lis Parsons. Copyright © 2008, 2009 Nigella Lawson. Photographs copyright © 2008, 2009 Lis Parsons. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.