Not everyone is a fan of Christmas pudding. Whilst tradition may dictate that the festive meal should conclude with a flaming cannon ball of a dessert it can be uncomfortable for our full stomachs to accommodate after the season’s excesses. I came across this pudding whilst researching a menu inspired by Alexis Soyer’s Gastronomic Regenerator. Rather than the stodgy, steamed variety it is an iced pudding made with chestnuts and maraschino soaked fruits (not dissimilar to a really good rum and raisin ice cream).
Soyer can’t take credit for inventing this recipe. In his biography of the chef to the kings, Antonin Carême, Ian Kelly describes it’s origins:
In 1814 Count Von Nesselrode entered Paris with the Russians, and camped under the chestnut trees of the Champs Elysée. Tallyrand sent word to Nesselrode and the Tsar that the Elysée palace was undermined, and the Tsar agreed to stay with Talleyrand until the palace was safe. Carême may have been the messenger. In any event, he created a chestnut pudding in honour of the Russian minister with the German name that became a favourite of a British king, George IV.
Whatever the story behind it’s creation it makes a wonderfully light alternative to plum pudding. But if you do want to stick with tradition you can find a recipe for another Victorian chef Charles Francatelli’s Christmas pudding on the English Heritage blog.
- 50g raisins
- 50g citron peel, chopped (you can buy this here or substitute it for the same quantity of raisins)
- 100ml maraschino or amaretto
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 170g caster sugar
- 300ml single cream
- 1 vanilla pod
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 x 200g pouches chestnut puree (unsweetened)
- 300ml double cream, lightly whipped until just holding its shape
- Soak the raisins and citron peel (if using) in the alcohol overnight.
- Mix the egg yolks with the cornflour and 50g caster sugar. Beat until light and frothy.
- Meanwhile, heat the single cream with the vanilla pod until it reaches boiling point. Remove the pod and scrape the seeds into the bowl containing the beaten egg yolk mix. Pour the boiling cream onto the yolk mix. Return the mixture to the pan and heat until thickened (do not boil). Cool as quickly as possible.
- Heat the remaining 120g caster sugar with the 2 tbsp water until it has dissolved. Beat the eggs whites with a few drops of lemon juice until stiff. When the sugar syrup reaches 120℃ pour it slowly onto the egg whites with the mixer still running. Continue to beat for 2-3 minutes until thick and glossy.
- Beat the chestnut puree into the cooled vanilla custard. Fold in the double cream followed by with liqueur soaked fruits. Finally, fold in the Italian meringue. Pour into a 900g loaf tin lined with cling film which will make it easy to remove when ready to serve (Careme used a pineapple shaped mould for his pudding). You may not be able to get all of the mixture into your loaf tin in which case freeze the remainder in a ramekin separately. Cover with cling film and freeze until the following day.
- To serve, remove the pudding from the freezer a good 10 minutes before you plan to serve it. Remove the top layer of cling film and turn out onto a board taking off the remaining film. Dip a large sharp knife into some hot water and cut into slices. Serve with some viennese or shortbread biscuits on the side.