Christmas Cooking Underway

Over 25 years ago, a work colleague brought in some tasty treats for us to enjoy on Christmas Eve, and I’ve been making them every year since.

The recipe for Chocolate Pudding Bites is quite simple.  You’ll need:

  • a Christmas Pudding.  I’ve found a brand of tinned pudding that works for me.  If it’s too “cakey” the balls of pudding will fall apart too easily in the making.
  • Some top quality dark chocolate.  I head over to a local deli and buy a 1 kg block of Belgium dark couvuture chocolate, but 200g will do you for one batch.
  • Some white chocolate melts.
  • Toothpicks, foild covered tray, air tight container.

Now the fun starts!

Having tried all sorts of approaches to get well shaped balls of pudding, including a melon baller, now I just cut up the pudding into cubes, and press it into a ball shape with my fingers.  How big?  The aim is for bite-sized pieces.  I refridgerate the pudding balls to help keep them in one piece through the next phase – freezing them is not advisable.

Carefully melt the chocolate.  I find working with about 200g at a time is manageable.  I always microwave, and this works well if you are patient and don’t over do it.  Expect to put the chocolate in at least 4 times, at moderate power.  Remember – if you over cook the chocolate, there is no turning back.

Insert a toothpick into a ball of pudding, and carefully dip it into the chocolate.  I leave a little uncovered top section around the toothpick.  Let the excess drain back into the chocolate bowl with a little shake.  Place each choc covered ball on a tray covered in aluminium foil.

In 10 or 15 minutes the chocolate will be set enough to remove the toothpicks.  Try to do it without holding the puddings – it’s very easy to put finger prints on them!

Melt a handfull of white chocolate in a ramekin, and then carefully put a dribble of white chocolate over the top of each pudding.  The aim is to make it look like custard dribbling over the pudding.

Let the chocolates set, and then store them in a cool place in an airtight container.  I tend to move them with tongs, to avoid the dreaded finger prints.

A dozen or so of these on a special Christmas plate will be a hit at any party between now and New Year.

Good Luck!

Food and Fiction

Over ten years ago, in the early days of the interweb, I started up a cooking website called Cookings.  It was a recipe and cookbook review site that was fun at the time, but now looks pretty clunky – especially as I haven’t updated it in over five years. Now it would be a blog, I guess.

Back in those days, I seemed to spend more time cooking and having dinner parties than I can imagine having time to do now.  There’s one main difference – now with three children in the family, we’re just to busy.

One of the stories in Cracks in the Ceiling is The Dinner Party.  It follows four couples in their mid-fifties, who have known each other all their adult lives, as they prepare for and then get together for a dinner party.

What can we bring?” is a question that always gets asked in these situations, and each of the couples deals with this in a different way.  Their choices about what they cook, and how they make their choices, reflect the state of their lives and relationships.

I couldn’t resist inserting some of my own favourite dishes into the story, and one of the couples offers to provide the starter, and chooses to make “Arugula Salad with Pistachios and Chocolate”.

It’s by Molly Wizenberg, and you can find it in her book A Handmade Life.  It’s a delicious dish, with the bitterness of the arugula (or rocket) balanced beautifully by the chocolate.  

Molly is a well known blogger at Orangette,  but as far as I can tell, the recipe isn’t on her website, so here is a link to a page from the book, at Google books.

More recipes from The Dinner Party in a later post.