This morning started out bone-numbingly cold which turned into snow about 9:30 — it felt like Mother Nature was saying “you WILL get into the Christmas spirit – and you’ll like it, missy!”  My tree is decorated, the Christmas cards are coming in, but it isn’t until the week before Christmas that I start to bake– and that’s when I really get in the mood.  Before then, it’s all lists and ordering things online and figuring out who we’re visiting when.  Cartons of eggs on the counter, bags of sugar in the pantry and a chorus line of spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves … what can I say?  That’s when I’m as happy as a room full of 3rd-graders on the last day of school before break.

So, today, I made one of my new favorite Christmas treats, Nigella’s Puddini Bonbons – yes, the name is a bit over-the-top twee, but it does pretty much describe what they are.  If you’ve never had an English Christmas pudding, it’s kind of like a cake, but instead of being baked, it’s steamed, so the texture is even thicker than the richest brownie you can imagine and it’s loaded with dried fruit and nuts and flavored with spices. This is what you usually see at your local theater’s production of A Christmas Carol – it’s about as British as a bulldog.

Anyway, these little sweets are sort of a hybrid between a truffle and a mini-pudding with a boost of sherry inside.  It’s a great recipe for you to make with your kids as there is no baking, very little chopping and a whole lot of mixing and rolling – oh, and it’s a bit messy, so the kids will love it!  I always make these as gifts for my friends and neighbors – but I make sure to keep a few back for the mister and myself!

Nigella’s Puddini Bonbons

  • 1 900 g Christmas pudding, cooked per the package instructions
  • 9 oz dark chocolate (I use Green and Black’s chocolate for baking, 72% cocoa), melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 1/4 cup Pedro Ximinez sherry (seriously – it’s worth looking for this brand)
  • 4 Tbsp golden syrup or corn syrup
  • 2 bars Green and Black’s white chocolate
  • glace cherries to decorate

I like to use my standing mixer with the paddle attachment, but you don’t have to.  Crumble the pudding, melted dark chocolate, golden syrup and sherry in the bowl of a mixer and stir until thoroughly combined.  Let sit for about 10 minutes or so until you can see it starting to hold its shape. 

Now, the next step is a bit messy, but I wear surgical gloves to avoid looking like I just took part in a chocolate massacre – they’re so worth it!  Line a couple of baking trays with wax paper or parchment and start to roll the pudding mixture – I make them about the size of ping-pong balls.  When they’re all rolled, let them sit in a cool room to finish setting.  I usually roll them one more time to make sure they have a lovely round shape.  Melt the 2 bars of white chocolate and stir until you feel it starting to cool – you want it to be slightly thick.  Pour about 1/2 a spoonfull over each treat – you don’t want to cover the whole sweet, just make it look like a snow-topped mountain. 

Lastly – the glace cherries.  Okay.  Nigella cuts up both red and green cherries and uses a tee-niny bit of red with two tee-niny bits of green to make it look like a sprig of holly, the traditional topping for a Christmas pudding.  I tried this last year and was nearly homicidal from the effort.  NOT the Christmas spirit you want to achieve.  So, now I just top it with a single bit of red cherry and call it a day and I think it still looks pretty. 

a silly name for a seriously good Christmas treat

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