It seems like you can’t read a Yuletide tale or sing a carol without the mention of one particular pudding or another. But just where do these festive desserts come from and what’s inside of them?
We decided to uncover some of December’s sweetest treats that you’ve undoubtedly heard about, even if you’ve never seen or tasted them. So let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first.
1. Christmas Pudding
We start with the grandaddy of all December delectables: the appropriately named Christmas pudding. Also known as plum pudding, this dish is a staple of British Christmas dinner but has become popular in several of their former colonies as well.
This magical blend of molasses (called treacle in Britain), sugar, spices, and suet (i.e. cow fat) gets steamed and then covered in brandy before being set on fire as a popular holiday centerpiece.
2. Figgy Pudding
“Now bring us some figgy pudding” is the well-known refrain of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas." So, here it is.
This seasonal favorite is essentially the same as a Christmas pudding but with the sweet addition of – wait for it – figs. It’s a perfect twist on the classic flavor and allows you to maintain the flaming pizzazz of the original.
3. Black Pudding
If you’re on the subject of puddings this holiday season, you might do yourself and your loved ones a favor and skip over black pudding. While it’s pretty standard breakfast staple in several European countries, blood sausage is still a hard sell in America.
Using dried pigs blood, barley or oatmeal, and a blend of spices, wheat flour, and hog fats, this conspicuously colored “pudding” is an excellent source of iron—but a terrible choice for holiday cheer.
4. Bread Pudding
This dessert is one pudding that has made its way stateside, and we’re all the better for it. Mixing stale bread in a suspension of milk, cream, eggs, and butter makes this dish equal parts creamy and hearty. Throw in sugar and spice and dried fruit (esp. raisins) and you’ve got a winning combination.
5. Banana Pudding
If you’re hearing this request, it’s probably from a toddler, and he or she probably wants the instant variety served with a few Nilla Wafers. But the fancy-pants, original concoction is no slouch either.
First off, the pudding should be sweet vanilla flavored custard separated by layers of ladyfinger or vanilla wafer cookies topped with fresh sliced bananas and whipped cream or meringue. It’s enough to make you go ape!
6. Sticky Toffee Pudding
Again, the English have very different definition of pudding. Or maybe we do. Like the Christmas pudding and figgy puddings before it, the sticky toffee pudding is usually steamed for maximum moisture.
Instead of figs, however, very finely chopped dates are added to the cake, which gets covered in a toffee sauce. And, yes, toffee sauce is the warm, liquid, orgasm-in-your-mouth flavor of melted British toffee. Custard and ice cream are optional additions but come highly recommended.