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English Plum Pudding

Christmas plum pudding is an old-fashioned dessert that deserves another look.

This modern version eliminates the traditional suet. The result is filled with fruit and favorite flavors and is quick and easy to prepare. Mix the few required ingredients, steam your pudding a few weeks ahead, and allow it to imbibe the best brandy until Christmas party day.

Fold in cheese cloth and sprinkle with additional brandy from time to time. Wrap in foil and store your precious package in a cool place.

On Christmas party day, steam plum pudding about half an hour to reheat thoroughly, serve with hard sauce, and enjoy a new tradition.

Ingredients

1 cup shortening (I use Crisco)

1 cup dark brown sugar (Use Dixie Crystals if you can find it.)

2 large eggs

1 cup soft fresh bread crumbs

1 tsp salt

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup chopped dates

1 cup purchased mince (This is the little box of mince “meat” for making pies. It is all fruit, there is no meat involved.)

Method

* Mix shortening and sugar.

* Add eggs and mix well.

* Add remaining ingredients and stir until everything is well incorporated.

* Put into oiled, lightly floured 1 quart mold. The mold should be about 2/3 full.

Once you make this pudding, you will probably buy a metal mold with a lid. It is also tradition to use a pottery mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with foil and tie it securely with kitchen string. You must be sure the cover is water-tight.

* Fill a deep kettle about half way with hot water. Put a rack in bottom of kettle so that your pudding does not rest flat on the bottom.

* Place pudding on rack, cover kettle, and allow pudding to steam for 2 hours. Check occasionally, and replenish water if necessary.

Brandy Hard Sauce

Ingredients:

1 1/3 sticks (1 cups) softened butter

1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

2 Tbsp brandy

Ground nutmeg to sprinkle on top

Preparation:

* In mixer, beat butter and tsp 1/4 nutmeg

* Add sugar alternately with brandy.

* Beat until fluffy (The sauce must be very fluffy.)

* Serve on plate beside plumb pudding with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Hard sauce is wonderful with any warm fruit dessert.