Christmas, to me, is a time for family, traditions and having fun play the biggest part in our family festivities. I love a busy house, we always have extended family to stay and spend lots of time with friends and neighbours.
This year for the first time, as my little family grow up we won’t all be together on Christmas day as my 18 year old daughter is off on her gap year adventures to chalet host in France. This weekend we were all together with the eldest back from Uni for the weekend so I thought we would have an early Christmas lunch.
We went all out with crackers, table presents, snowballs,
roast (albeit beef- no turkeys around at this time of year!) with sprouts and pigs in blankets!
We even then snuggled in front of the fire for a Christmas movie afterwards to get the full experience! Can you guess what we watched?
But where was the Christmas Pudding I hear you cry? Taking a step back to family traditions – my kids aren’t keen on anything with dried fruit in so traditional Christmas cake, puddings and mince pies always take a back seat. On Christmas Eve I always cook with the girls creating puddings they have chosen for the holidays. So, in true family tradition, we made a Chocolate Christmas Pudding, a twist on a classic that is a family super chocolatey winner. I’m sure you have seen them on the internet and they are a great Christmassy bake to do with the family. Having made one last year we learned a few things that make the process a bit easier so I have written my method to help you. The cake is based on my favourite chocolate cake recipe on the BBC Good Food site with my own covering and scaled to fit the Lakeland medium semi-hemisphere tins. The method has quite a few steps and ideally you need to start the day before you want the cake. I found a couple of boxes of Maltesers were the cheapest way to buy them for the cake, there were some leftover – but they soon found a home!!
- 200g unsalted butter
- 100g dark chocolate
- 400g caster sugar
- 350g plain flour
- 50g cocoa powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 large eggs
- 200ml buttermilk
- 150ml boiling water
- 200g milk chocolate
- 100ml double cream
- 500g Maltesers (or any chocolate ball!)
- 200g white chocolate
- 30g unsalted butter
- Red and green food colouring
Preheat the oven to 150C (fan)
Grease the tins well, if you don’t have the semi-hemsphere tins you can use a pryex oven proof bowl but it would be a good idea to line with strips of non stick parchment as well as greasing to help lift the cake out. I also use a couple of jam jar lids in my baking tray to hold the semi-hemisphere tins level.
Place the chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl and place for 1 minute on full power – you can melt this in a pan on a very low heat if you don’t have a microwave.
Whilst this is going on measure the flour, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl and combine either in a mixer or with a hand whisk.
Measure out the eggs and buttermilk into a jug and whisk together.
Give the chocolate and butter mixture a stir and make sure all the chocolate is melted, return to the microwave for 30 second blasts until completely liquid.
Add the chocolate to the dry ingredients and combine to get a ‘sandy texture’.
Gradually add the beaten egg / buttermilk mixture, combining thoroughly between additions.
Finally really slowly add the boiled water beating well between additions to get a smooth glossy and fairly runny cake batter.
Fill each of the tins to a good 3/4 full, you may have a little left over to make a couple of muffins too.
I always place a bowl of water in the base of my oven to help keep the cake moist and to aid an even rise. Bake for 45/55 mins until a cocktail stick comes out clean from the centre of the cake.
Turn out onto a cooling tray and allow to become complete cool.
Whilst the cake is cooking you can make the ganache which will be used to fill and cover the cake.
I use the microwave method to make my ganache but will tell you how to do it on the hob if you prefer.
Place the chopped chocolate and cream into a microwave proof bowl, ideally plastic rather than glass as the glass can heat up a bit too much and over heating can lead to a split ganache.
Microwave on half power for 1 minute, remove and swirl the bowl, dont stir yet!
Return for 30 second blasts at half power, swirling between each until the chocolate melts into the cream. you can stir now but gently!
Keep going until there are no lumps and you have a smooth glossy ganache
If you prefer to use the hob, place the cream in a heavy bottomed pan and heat the cream slowly to almost boiling. Remove from the heat and add finely chopped chocolate. stir slowly until all melted.
Place in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours.
Once the cake is cool you are ready for construction, trim off any excess cake from the flat edges and stick the two halves together using the ganache. The ganache needs to be soft but not runny for this step. You now need to cover the ball in a thin layer of ganache all over. Pop onto a piece of non stick parchment paper and leave to harden in the fridge – ideally overnight. Don’t worry this cake recipe is super fudgy so its doesn’t mind the fridge and actually matures if kept for a day or two.
Once hardened to you are ready for the fun part. .
You might need to loosen up your leftover ganache, 10 second blasts in the microwave on half heat until its soft enough to spread will do the trick.
Start by creating a base using a little melted chocolate create a small ring of Maletsers. I stuck mine to a firm piece of card about 7.5cm diameter.
Place that in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden. In the meantime spread some ganache to the base of the ball
When the chocolate circle is hard place the ball on top making sure centred.
Make a small flat circle of tin foil that will go round the base of the ball for the next layer to rest on then build up another layer of Malteser balls. Lifting the foil up round the balls to support this first layer.
Carry on building up the layers and adding more ganache as you go, gently press in each layer as you go.
If the odd ball drops out as you go just add a little ganache individually and pop it back in place.
You can now put your ball in the fridge whilst you make the decoration.
Firstly melt the 170g of the white chocolate and the 30g of butter together in the microwave, as before 1 minute on half power then 30 second blasts until all melted. To drizzle over the ball the chocolate mixture should be runny but not completely hot liquid so allow to cool whilst stirring for a few minutes before using. Fill a disposable piping bag , or a plastic bag, with the chocolate mixture.
Drizzle from the top of the ball and allow to drip down the sides, using the piping bag to encourage drips where you want them. you can also use a spatula to slightly spread the chocolate but be careful not to move the chocolate on the Maltesers underneath as this will soften. Keep a small amount back to fix the final decorations.
Allow this to harden whilst you make the finally decoration flourish!
Draw some simple outlines of holly leaves on a piece of paper, take a strip of baking parchment and pop a couple of pieces of double sided sticky tape to a rolling pin.
Melt the last 30g of chocolate, take a small spoonful and colour red, pipe small balls of red chocolate on to the baking parchment. Then colour the remaining chocolate green, pop in a piping bag and snip a small amount from the end. Pipe the holly leaf outlines onto the baking parchment using the drawings as a guide underneath.
Place the parchment over the rolling pin and pop in the fridge or freezer to harden.
To finish the cake place the ball onto a board with a little melted chocolate in the centre, place the curved holly leaves and berries on top, use a little white chocolate in the middle of the cake to hold it in place.
This recipe has been blogged in conjunction with Wren Christmas Kitchens campaign. Through this post I have not been paid to endorse any products.