A perfectly light dessert that celebrates summer in France.
I’m on a roll again. Healthy, easy, no bake, no fuss and festively tasty. Put these welcome words together at this time of year and you get … express mini Christmas puddings! They taste of Christmas and they’re gluten free, Vegan and Nut-free (although do check dried fruit packet ingredients just to be sure).
Unless Scrooge arrives or Antoine changes my mind, this weekend I’m looking forward to sitting en famille to watch the girls’ favourite Christmas movie, The Polar Express, and nibble on a few of these bonbons without any guilt. Do you love that film? It just brings out the kid in us again and makes adult responsibilities drift aside for a couple of hours. We somehow become more aware of bells jingling in the distance…
This recipe started out as ‘snowballs’ from my Scottish Granny’s Black Book, using only oats (mainly), raisins, cocoa powder and milk then covered in desiccated coconut. After experimenting with Granny’s recipe, I’ve rather altered them since, alas, I found them way too sweet. I also wanted an extra Christmassy taste with the addition of more dried fruits, gingerbread spice and orange peel, especially. For the snowball look, I just roll them in desiccated coconut, as Granny used to dip them in icing first then in coconut – but by adding a bit of orange juice and making the mixture quite wet, the coconut sticks no problem without the extra sugar.
However, a couple of years ago, I saw the most gorgeous picture of mini Christmas puds on Pinterest, via the blog, IncludingCake. She had rolled actual Christmas pudding cake into cute little puddings and I pinned it to remind myself to make them one Christmas – so thank you, Jo, for the pudding inspiration! However, I turned the filling around from Christmas puddings to a gluten free/vegan version that feels just as Christmassy with the flavours.
So how do we give these snowballs a make-over Christmas pudding effect? To cover, melt white chocolate or make up a quick icing of icing/powdered sugar with a little orange juice – or why not a boozy splash of Grand Marnier, just to be naughty (but for adults only.)?
Express Mini Christmas Puddings
This recipe is inspired by Granny’s recipe in her Black Book and so I’m sure it came from a magazine, the Sunday Post newspaper or the Jimmy Young radio show back in the 70s. If you’re watching over, sorry for altering it so much, Agnes, but I know you would have loved them! The oats, raisins and coconut are still in there, though, plus a much reduced sugar quantity.
MAKES APPROX 25
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
40g dried apricots, finely chopped
40g dates, finely chopped
5 tbsps orange juice
60g (+ 40g for snowballs) desiccated/shredded coconut
60g caster sugar
40g candied orange peel, finely chopped (or the grated rind of an untreated orange)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
50g coconut oil
2 tsps gingerbread/pumpkin spice
For puddings, to cover:
50g white chocolate
approx 25 dried cranberries (or glacé cherries)
green marzipan (optional)
1. Place all the above ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with a spoon until all the flavours are well blended. If the coconut oil is solid, melt very gently for just a few seconds in the microwave.
2. Form little balls by rolling a couple of teaspoons of the mixture at a time in the palm of your hands (you could say this is a handy recipe!). Set aside on a plate or baking sheet and place in the fridge for a few minutes.
3. To cover, either melt 50g good quality white chocolate in the microwave (or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water – bain marie) or make up some classic icing by mixing icing/confectioner’s sugar with a teaspoon of orange juice (or Grand Marnier for the adults). Dribble this on the top to form the sauce effect and top with a dried cranberry (craisin) or bit of glacé cherry and green marzipan, cut to shape.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Best eaten at room temperature with your favourite cup of tea at teatime or festive sparkly.
Wait a minute. Please stop what you’re doing, just for a few moments.
Don’t make a sound. Just listen. Do you hear them? Sleigh bells jingling faintly in the distance.
I’m off now. Back to some responsibilities, like setting up the crèche to really get in to the Christmas spirit and remind the children what Christmas is really about.
Before I go, I’m absolutely thrilled and honoured to be featured with such impressive company in the Huffington Post’s 2014 Best Cookbook Gifts for Cooks and Food Lovers on Your List. Thank you for adding Mad About Macarons to the list, Jamie Schler. What a lovely sweet ending to the year!