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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Plum Pudding

Okay, I confess I'm not good at creating recipes. Not that I can't create tasty things in the kitchen, but because I'm the sort who hates to measure stuff, and rarely measure anything when cooking. I'm definitely a "pinch of this and a blob of that" sort of cook and almost never make something the same way twice.

But I've been thinking a lot about Christmas dishes lately, and remembered how I used to love to make a steamed Christmas plum pudding every year. But it's been many years since I made one, and I no longer touch wheat or sucrose. Both of them do bad things to me and I can't see any reason to include them in my daily diet.

I do enjoy some "sweet" on occasion, and lately have used erythritrol or sometimes stevia as sweeteners, each as equally "natural" (or unnatural, LOL) as table sugar, but neither affect my blood sugar or cause dreadful cravings.

Erythritol is a naturally-derived sugar substitute that looks and tastes very much like sugar, yet has almost no calories. It comes in granulated and powdered forms…Erythritol is classified as a sugar alcohol….Sugar alcohols also occur naturally in plants. Erythritol is found naturally in small amounts in grapes, melons, mushrooms, and fermented foods such as wine, beer, cheese, and soy sauce…Erythritol is usually made from plant sugars. Sugar is mixed with water and then fermented with a natural culture into erythritol. It is then filtered, allowed to crystallize, and then dried.

A plant native to South America and Central America, stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) produces sweet leaves that have long been harvested to flavor foods and beverages. In recent years, a stevia extract called rebaudioside A has become increasingly popular as a natural sugar substitute.
though adds:

If you're seeking a new natural sweetener, you should also consider erythritol (a nearly calorie-free sugar alcohol extracted from plants).

So lately I have been using Truvia, a combo of both of the above, as it's commonly available in supermarkets. And lately I've been using a lot of coconut flour too, so wondered if I could use the two to make a plum pudding. Of course it would have to be a slightly different plum pudding, one without the typical raisins (which I hate) and currents (which I like) because the sugar hit would have been too much for me.

So I gave it a try the other day, and it actually came out pretty well! It seemed like a plum pudding. Alas it DID stick and fall apart a bit as I removed it from the bowl it was cooked in, you can see the top looking pretty lumpy in the photo above. But I made an attempt to measure things as I cooked - though much of it is weighed in the more classic European fashion, which tends to be much more accurate. Some of the amounts (such as the tallow, butter, etc) were just because that was the amount I had on hand, but it worked, so here we go:

Plum Pudding

170g beef tallow*
110g butter
140g chopped fresh cranberries (about 1 1/3 cups)
60g chopped pecans (1/2 cup)
60g chopped hazelnuts (1/2 cup)
60g sliced almonds (1/2 cup)
1 tsp grated lemon rind
100g Nevada Manna SF chocolate chips (1/2 cup) OPTIONAL
1/4 cup heavy cream
6 eggs
1/2 cup Truvia
1 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup Irish whiskey

* Tallow is a rendered form of beef or mutton fat, processed from suet. It is solid at room temperature. Unlike suet, tallow can be stored for extended periods without the need for refrigeration to prevent decomposition, provided it is kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation...Wikipedia says "Christmas pudding is a steamed pudding, heavy with dried fruit and nuts, and usually made with suet." I've never been able to find suet, but I can get tallow from my Amish farmer.

Melt tallow and butter in a large oven proof bowl, until softened but not liquid. Remove from oven and stir, adding in the cranberries, lemon rind, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds. Then add Truvia and the spices, then the heavy cream. It should be cool enough by now to add in the chocolate chips, if desired, without them all melting. Then add in the eggs and beat until everything is well blended.

At this point turn the whole concoction into a small well-greased metal bowl which will fit into your crockpot with some room to spare around the sides. Put about a cup of water into the crockpot and lower the bowl into it. Water should come up roughly 1/2-2/3 up the side of the bowl. If it's not high enough gently add more water, trying not to get any into the plum pudding mixture!

Turn crockpot to high and cook about 4 hours. Pudding is done when it is springy to the touch in the center. You can probably cook it on low also, for longer. I just happened to start it late in the day and wanted it to be done before I went to bed. :-)

When done remove bowl carefully from crockpot (I needed to use two sets of tongs). Allow to cool for a bit, then turn out onto a platter or bowl. Mine fell apart when I did this, but I just pulled out the rest and stuck it on top!

Gently spoon the Irish whiskey over the top, letting it absorb into the pudding. If the whiskey gets all the way down to the plate just spoon it up from there and keep adding to the top. It soaks up pretty well. Then place in fridge to cool.

This is sort of dense and rich, so makes about 12 servings. Nutritional info per serving:
Calories: 413, carbs: 14,2g, fiber: 10.4g (so net carbs = 3.8g), fat: 36g, sat fat: 15.4g, alcohol: 3.8g, protein: 4g.

I had to try it out once it had cooled, and did add a squirt of homemade whipped cream on top, and a small sprinkling of nuts "for pretty". It tasted quite good.

Of course if I made it again I would probably not do it exactly the same. I'd love to see how it came out using coconut oil instead of the beef tallow, for example. And I would probably add more clove and nutmeg, and maybe cinnamon. It was less spicy than I prefer. If I had some unsweetened dried blueberries (which I can get at Trader Joe's) I would probably add some of those too. I might add a tablespoonful of molasses. And I wonder how it would be with peanut flour? And if you don't want the whiskey you could probably use something like DaVinci sugar-free Irish Cream syrup. Decisions, decisions. And it's not as if I make Christmas plum pudding every day of the year!

I'm still feeling excellent, and looking forward to Christmas with my family. It's been cold here lately, but yesterday afternoon I did go out to the gym to do my Slow Burn workout, and had a swim, and since I was out I went up to Rifle Camp Park and Garrett Mountain to do some birding. Brrr, it was cold! 30-40 minutes was about all I could take.

But I did see a whole flock of these Ring-necked ducks, about 20 of them.

And in addition I saw this Mute Swan. They are plentiful enough in New Jersey, but I have never seen one at Garrett Mountain before, so that was an interesting find for me. It will add to my site Life List as kept by eBird.org.

But by then the sun was starting to sink low over the horizon. It was barely past 4 PM, but we are only days away from the Winter solstice after all. I can't wait for the light to begin returning though. But Garrett Mountain was lovely in the golden afternoon glow, so I had to take a picture of that as well.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the recipe, looks good! I think I'll try it for Xmas dinner, though I might add some xanthan or guar gum to see if it holds together better.