Gluten Free Gourmet Puddings, Heavenly Trifles and a Very Luxurious Giveaway!
“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world,
and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
-Norman Vincent Peale
My mother always used to say that it’s not what you eat between Christmas and New Years that matters; it’s what you eat between New Years and Christmas!
And of course she is right. If there’s any time to pull out all the stops and really indulge in the culinary gifts this world has to offer, surely it must be Christmas time! There will be a lot of media telling you how to keep your waist slim and your plate green during the holidays, but if I may, let me lead you into temptation this Christmas. Be kind to your mind and leave the diets and the guilty conscience to the other 352 days of the year! (There’s 13 days of Christmas by Scandinavian tradition)
I’m certainly going to do my bit to get you in the Christmas spirit, just look at these delicious treats:
I also have the pleasure of Giving Away one of these Amazingly Luxurious Gourmet Gluten Free Hampers, courtesy of Itha’s Gourmet Foods, valued at a whopping $114!
These handmade Christmas treats are as good as unrivaled for quality and lusciousness, and I am SO excited to be able to give one away to a lucky reader as an extra special Christmas present! You’ll find the entry details at the end of this post.
But first, just like on Christmas eve back home, before presents come the food!
We simply have to start our culinary celebration with the Plum Pudding; the epitome of Christmas spirit and the anchor of edible tradition. And there really is no time to lose, as traditionally Christmas puddings were made on or immediately after the first Sunday of Advent, which is four to five weeks before Christmas. Perhaps then, this is a good time to get your Christmas Pudding!
The plum pudding’s association with Christmas goes back to a custom in medieval England, saying that the “pudding should be made on the 25th Sunday after Trinity, that it be prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the 12 apostles, and that every family member stir it in turn from east to west to honour the Magi and their supposed journey in that direction” (source: wikipedia.com)
“Oh! All that steam! The pudding had just been taken out of the cauldron. Oh! That smell! The same as the one which prevailed on washing day! It is that of the cloth which wraps the pudding. […] Thirty seconds later, Mrs. Cratchit entered, her face crimson, but smiling proudly, with the pudding resembling a cannon ball, all speckled, very firm, sprinkled with brandy in flames, and decorated with a sprig of holly stuck in the centre. Oh! The marvelous pudding!” -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
In older times the pudding was quite special in that it would be hung in its cloth for the flavours to mature and strengthen, all through Advent!
In Scandinavia we take advent rather seriously. Our advent calendars are little works of art, and there’s a tradition for almost every day. We decorate the house in purple (the colour of advent) and light one new candle per week, from the first to the last of four Sundays before Christmas Eve (or “Jul”) on December 24th.
Nothing was ever as magical as advent growing up, and I still remember the moods so fondly! Like waking up in the pitch black every morning to go to school in the snow, only to stop by a little wall of miniature gifts lovingly put together by my mum. There would be stickers and figurines and all sorts of treats, usually accompanied by tears from my little sister who wanted exactly the same treat as me at the exact same time. Of course, the presents were all the same, only on different days, but try explaining that to a tired 5 year-old.
Did you know that according to Scandinavian tradition, all the cleaning and baking must be done by December 13, or the spirits will cause you all kinds of trouble! As far as baking is concerned, we are supposed to bake 7 types of Christmas cakes and biscuits to be off the hook (Norway’s Seven Types of Christmas Cakes). Plum Pudding isn’t technically a part of the Norwegian 7, but now that I’m marrying into the Aussie ranks, I believe I’ll have to make mine a whopping 8 types of Christmas Cakes!
Not unlike the idea of Halloween, tradition has it that spirits and trolls and ghosts gather, and fly around from farm to farm (or house to house) on the 13th of December to make sure all the chores are done. It’s called the “Lussi Night” . The 13th was the longest night of the year in the old Norse calendar, and to this day we dress up in white capes, put candles in our hair and sing Lucia songs to light up dark corners. What was originally a celebration of the martyr St Lucia (year 300), has been mixed with thousand year-old Norse traditions, and is to this day a beautiful advent tradition embraced lovingly in both Sweden and Norway (More about the Scandinavian St. Lucia’s Day)
For those of you who are interested in a bit of Christmas history, did you know that Plum Pudding never technically did contain plums? In the 17th century, “plums” simply referred to raisins or other fruits. The original Plum Pudding wasn’t even a Christmas dessert at all! Originally, the boiling of various ingredients in a cloth was a means of preserving the food. During the Puritan reign in England, plum pudding was outlawed as “sinfully rich, but in 1714, King George I (sometimes known as the Pudding King) requested that plum pudding be served as part of his royal feast on his first Christmas in England. Finally, it was not until the 1830s that the round ball of flour, fruits, sugar and spices, all topped with holly, made a definite appearance, becoming more and more associated with Christmas. The name Christmas pudding is first recorded in 1858 in a novel by Anthony Trollope. (various sources/ wikipedia.com)
Traditionally in England, small silver charms were baked into the plum pudding. A silver coin for wealth in the coming year; a wishbone for good luck; a silver thimble, thrift; an anchor, safe harbour. By Victorian times, only the silver coin remained, but you can still buy these charms throughout England to put in your own pudding! (source: whatscookingamerica.net)
Although most Christmas Puddings we see these days have the shape of a “pudding bowl”, the “original” English Plum Pudding, prior to the 19th century, was boiled in a pudding cloth and usually represented as round. The new Victorian era fashion involved putting the batter into a basin and then steaming it, followed by unwrapping the pudding, placing it on a platter, and decorating the top with a sprig of holly (source). Although the newer methods are easier, they don’t by far give the same result.
The pudding I’m sharing with you in this post is from Itha’s Puddings and Gourmet Foods, and as you can see it is true to its origin. Itha still uses this old-fashioned “cooked in the cloth” method, and rather than easing the process by using a plastic liner, she flours the pudding cloth only to carefully remove it by hand. It’s a painstaking process, but it is the only way to achieve that unique traditionally dark coloured pudding skin.
Itha’s products have won awards, one of them being “Australia’s best Pudding” in Choice Magazine (review can be read on http://www.choice.com.au), and I can’t say I’m surprised. I’d like to say it tastes like homemade, but I’m afraid that wouldn’t be good enough. It’s better than homemade, because it’s made by hands who have become experts at their trade. There’s no trial and error, no making it only once a year; Itha’s Puddings are in every way a foolproof way to give your family that original English Plum Pudding Christmas is all about!
I recently reviewed her Triple Chocolate Pudding, and much like that, you can feel and taste the quality. Even though they both have a rich and decadent aroma, the original pudding smells vividly of Christmas spices and fruits as you dig into it. It is slightly lighter in colour, but certainly no lighter in flavour. Rich and smooth, moist and full of fruit, it delivers on every point. In fact, it is just what I want in a pudding!
Heavenly Christmas Trifle
I really wanted to do a recipe that shows how you can use Plum Pudding in more than one way, and for the occasion I chose a trifle. Trifles are super easy, anyone can make them, and they are delicious and impressive looking! In fact, why not whip up this Heavenly Christmas Trifle with the pudding leftovers, or get an extra pudding so that you can impress your guests at the Christmas party? For kids or those who wouldn’t mind a bit of a modern twist to the traditional Christmas dessert, this trifle is perfect!
I made the trifle in mason jars so that they can be served in portions, given as gifts or simply sealed with a lid for storing in the fridge. It worked a charm, and don’t they just look super cute?
- 3 oranges, keep some zest aside – about 1 tsp (remember to clean the peel before you zest it)
- 1 tbsp muscovado sugar (soft, brown sugar)
- 2 tbsp Grand Marnier, brandy, sherry or similar (Grand Marnier gives an orange flavour though)
- 300g leftover Christmas pudding
- 500g custard – I used Itha’s delicious Gluten Free Vanilla Bean Custard. It’s thick and smooth, made with real cream and has visible vanilla beans throughout. Certainly adds a bit of luxury and decadence to the recipe!
- 250g pot mascarpone
- 284ml pot double cream
- Dark chocolate, grated
- Roasted almonds, chopped
Find a suitable trifle bowl, or make it up in individual glasses like I did.
1) Peel and slice the oranges (I cut off the white to reveal the beautiful orange flesh in the trifle)
2) Spread muscovado across the oranges, and pour the Grand Marnier over them. Set them aside and let soak.
3) Whip the mascarpone till it’s fluffy, then stir in the custard
4) Crumble the Christmas Pudding into the bottom of your bowl or jar, cover with a layer of oranges and pour the juices over the layer
5) Spoon your mascarpone custard on top of the oranges, then sprinkle some grated chocolate and nuts across
6) Lightly whip the double cream. You can either stir some grated chocolate through the whipped cream, or just leave it for the top. You can also choose whether you’d like to sweeten the cream or not.
7) Sprinkle some orange zest through the whipped cream.
7) Spoon the whipped cream over top of the pudding
8) Decorate with chopped almonds and grated dark chocolate. You can try to make little chocolate curls with a vegetable peeler!
This recipe was inspired by BBC Good Food
Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner Julie Ann Kenny!
Now that you’ve seen and read about the lusciousness of these products, wouldn’t you just absolutely love to have some of your own? Well you can. The lovely people at Itha’s Gourmet Foods have graciously given me the most amazing hamper full of goodies to send off to one of you!!
I simply can’t think of a more delicious box of treats than this one! It’s gourmet from one end to the other, pure luxury and just waiting for you to unwrap and dig in!
Two Christmas Puddings, one Tripe Chocolate and one Original, and two family sized jars of sauces; Brandy Butterscotch and Vanilla Bean Custard. This is enough to keep a whole family happy on Christmas Day! And, may I remind you that the Brandy Butterscotch sauce and the puddings are award-winning!
To enter the Giveaway is Easy Peasy, nothing complicated; simply click on the following link:
The wonderful thing is that you can easily increase your winning chances by posting more than one entry, so you can help luck along a little on this one 😉
Best of luck to you, I can’t wait to declare a winner!
You also have the option to enter on Facebook by visiting http://www.fcaebook.com/thglutenfree
NB: Entries open to residents of Australia & New Zealand only, terms and conditions apply (these are available upon entry).
If you want to read my review (and see the pictures) of the treats that are included in the hamper, you can click on these images:
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This post was sponsored, however each and every word represents my genuine opinion. I do not accept sponsored posts from brands and products I wouldn’t otherwise recommend.