The first Christmas I spent with my husband’s family featured my indoctrination into the cult of the cranberry pudding. It’s made by everyone in the family at Christmas time (and sometimes Thanksgiving too) and has been for many years…so long in fact nobody remembers where exactly it came from. Somewhere in Germany they think, and yet a steamed pudding is a quintessentially English invention. No matter – it is an evil looking dark cake-like thing, served with a sauce that you would eat on shoes and love it.
You will need to find a steamed pudding mold (they are reasonably easy to find these days). They only way you can fail is if the mold leaks. I have had that happen…in fact there was a period of several years where most of the family was having failures and we talked exhaustively about brands of molasses, cranberries, all in an effort to figure out what went wrong. Recently they have behaved properly and I think it is just a matter of making sure your mold is well sealed. I generally wrap mine in foil as added insurance.
The recipe couldn’t be simpler…plan to start it about 2 hours in advance. You can cook it way in advance and leave it in the steaming pot. Just reheat for 15 minutes or so before serving. The sauce takes about ½ hours but you can put all the ingredients in the pot in advance and just turn it on 30 minutes before serving.
Butter mold. Mix all ingredients and scrape into mold. Seal tightly.
To steam: place rack in bottom of pot large enough to fit mold. Bring about 3" water to a boil and place mold on rack. Lower heat to simmer, cover pot and time 1 1/2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure water isn't running out. You can leave it in the pot until ready to serve.
Put first three ingredients in top of double boiler over simmering water. Cover and let heat for at least 1/2 hour. When ready to serve, whisk until it comes together in a lovely sauce and add vanilla. You may add bourbon for a hard sauce if you like...I never do.
Note: leftovers can be warmed up in a pan - heat sauce and add slices of pudding until warmed through. If there are any leftovers...