Chocolate & prune steamed pudding with brandy custard

by Dixie Elliott | Cuisine issue #155
Serves: 6Hosting a Christmas dinner doesn't have to be stressful and expensive - with a bit of planning, you can put together a delicious festive feast that is also kind to the budget

You can cook this pudding up to one week in advance then store in a cool dark place. To reheat it, put the basin on a trivet in a saucepan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides. Cover and place over medium heat for one hour. Stand for 10 minutes before serving.

160g butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing
150g dark chocolate, chopped
1⁄2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
1⁄2 cup flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1⁄3 cup milk
1⁄3 cup brandy
750g pitted prunes, coarsely chopped

Brush an 8-cup-capacity pudding basin or bowl with melted butter then refrigerate for 10 minutes. Remove from the fridge and brush again with melted butter then line the base of the bowl with baking paper.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the melted chocolate.

Sift the flours, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg over the butter mixture then add the milk and brandy and stir to combine. Gently fold in the prunes. Spoon the mixture into the prepared basin. Smooth the top with the back of a wet spoon and cover with a round of baking paper.

Place a sheet of aluminium foil on a flat surface. Top with a sheet of baking paper. Form a pleat down the centre of the foil and paper then place over the pudding, paper side down. Secure with kitchen string then trim the edges of the foil and paper.

Put a trivet or saucer upside down in a large saucepan. Stand pudding basin on top then pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides. Bring to the boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 21⁄2 hours (replenish water when necessary) or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove basin from saucepan. Stand for 10 minutes then turn out and serve with brandy custard.

Brandy custard
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 egg yolks
1⁄2 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
50ml brandy

Put the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture comes to a gentle simmer, remove from the heat.

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour until thick and pale. Slowly add the milk mixture to the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan over medium heat. Add the brandy and stir constantly for 8-10 minutes or until the custard has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Serve with the pudding.

Wine - An Australian sparkling shiraz.

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