Nana’s Christmas Pudding

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As far back as I can remember, when we had Christmas dinner at my Nana and Pop’s (Dad’s side) one of many desserts would be a Christmas Pudding with White Sauce.  Nana liked her sweets as much or more than I did, if that is even possible!   Dad said growing up they always had dessert and he always found out what dessert was going to be before he ate dinner, as it would determine how much dinner he ate. haha!

A normal dinner at Nana and Pop’s there would be at least one, maybe 2 different desserts, but come holiday time I would not be exaggerating to say there would be at least 5 different desserts.  When I say desserts I mean a full on fancy cake or something to that extent not like just cookies and squares, though they were there as well.  So, I do get my sweet tooth honestly.

Nana died 14 years ago and we have not had a Christmas Pudding since.  For the past 3 years or so I have bought all the ingredients to make the Pudding and then threw them out in about April.  I would get busy for one reason or another and I just didn’t get made.

This year I was determined! I was going to make the Pudding!

I didn’t tell anyone I was making it, especially Dad.  I wanted it to be a surprise for Christmas.

I got this recipe from my Aunt who got all Nana’s recipes.  I don’t know where Nana got it from, it was just typed on a page.

This will be one of the few recipes I just show through pictures.  This recipe is special to me and I want to keep it a family secret.

Nana’s Christmas Pudding

The Pudding is not at all difficult to make, just time consuming.  It is cooked with steam.  If you do not have a steamer, you need a large pot that your bowl will fit into.   I did not have a rack to keep the bowl out of the water, so I made a tinfoil raiser.

 

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I got these bowls from Nana ass well.  This is what she made her puddings in.

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Prepare the bowl with shortening and flour

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The only instructions were ‘combine all ingredients’ so that is what I did

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Cover with parchment and tie with string

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I accidentally deleted the pictures of the putting in the steaming pot.

7 hours later…

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I made it a week before Christmas, because that is when I had the time.  I wasn’t sure how it would last so I froze it for the week.  I have since learned these things last for EVER, so in the fridge would have been fine.

White Sauce

I know no other name for this sauce only that Nana called it White Sauce.  It is amazing, well how I remember it when Nana made it at least.  It has a texture and taste of nothing I have had before. To be honest, I could just use a spoon to eat it, forget the cake!

I started to take pictures then there was a quick change in our plans.  Half was made at home and half at Gramma and Poppa’s.  The part at Gramma and Poppa’s I forgot to take pictures

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Annnnnd complete! haha

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When I was finished making the white sauce I had to try it.  There is a picture of me when I was about 6 with the whole bowl of sauce and me with a big spoon full in my mouth, I was caught!  That is how good it is!!  I just hoped it was as good as I remembered.

It was PERFECT!  I nailed it! It tasted just like Nana’s! I was thrilled.  At this point if the Pudding didn’t turn out at least we had bowls of sauce.  Into the fridge for a few hours until dessert.

Now time to re steam the Pudding. Yes, back in the pot (which I forgot to take pictures of again!) for 2 hours to heat and moisten.

We are full of an amazing turkey dinner – Gramma outdid herself.

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18 pound turkey for 7 people = lots of leftovers for me!!

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Dessert time!

I am very nervous about getting the Pudding out of the bowl. Even though I prepared my bowl, I fear it will stick.

It worked! A huge sigh of relief.

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Now to put it all together.

Mom, Dad, Gramma and Poppa had eaten Nana’s Pudding all those years ago, so they new what it was going to be compared to.  That’s a high standard!

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Look at that! It looks perfect

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One word- WOW

This WAS Nana’s Pudding! I could hardly believe it. It was perfect!

The looks on Mom, Dad, Gramma and Poppa’s faces said it all.  They loved it and said it tasted EXACTLY like Nana’s.

The warm moist Pudding combine with the cold creamy White sauce was amazing!

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Not everyone likes Pudding, but we love it. I am so glad it worked and I will definitely be making it again.  Poppa said, ‘we won’t have to wait til next Christmas for another one will we?’  I guess that means he liked it.

Most importantly, I am glad Dad liked it.  A wonderful way to carry on his tradition and keep Nana’s spirit alive at Christmas.

I will admit, just like when I was little, I sat down with a bowl of sauce and a spoon 😉

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Pecan Pie Cheesecake

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This Christmas I was determined to make something different for dessert.  I always do a cheesecake and something else as there are a few people who do not like cheesecake.  I racked my brains, searched my books, looked on the web and I was stumped.  There were so many things I liked but nothing that would please almost everyone.  I eventually decided to ask those attending dinner what they would like.  Everyone I asked responded with Cheesecake!  Okay, okay!  I certainly don’t mind making it, I just assumed people would be getting sick of it.  Apparently not.

Now to decide what flavour.  Suggestions were Turtle, Tuxedo, Plain, etc, all ones I had already made.  I like to try new things, then I can post about it, haha!  I headed to Pinterest, where I saw thousands of cheesecakes, but this one caught my eye.  Pecan.Pie.Cheesecake!

Photo from spicysouthernkitchen.com

Just look at that! Amazing!

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I eat with my eyes and as soon as I saw this I knew, this was the Christmas Cheesecake!  I had never made a Pecan Pie before, though it is on my bucket list, but figured I would give it a go.

Pecan Pie Cheesecake

Adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen

Crust

1¾ cups vanilla-wafer crumbs**
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
⅓ cup butter, melted

**I used graham crumbs, not a fan of vanilla wafers

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine graham crumbs and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Stir melted butter in with a spatula.

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3. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch Springform pan.

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4. Bake for 6 minutes and let cool.

Pecan filling

1 cup sugar
⅔ cup dark corn syrup
⅓ cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
1½ cups chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine all Pecan-Filling ingredients in a medium saucepan. (I left out the nuts, and poured them over the crust, only because if I messed up with filling I didn’t want to waste the expensive pecans)

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2. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring continuously, until mixture thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes.

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4. Pour into prepared crust.

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At this point I am just about drooling, look at that!  Forget the cheesecake, lets cook this and eat it!

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Cheesecake filling

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
⅔ cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. (Seemed low to me, I went with340ºF)2. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until smooth and creamy

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2. Add brown sugar and flour and beat until fluffy.

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I love the colour the brown sugar produced.  I had never thought of using brown sugar.  There are a few other ones I think this would be a nice addition to

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3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything mixes evenly.

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4. Add cream and vanilla and beat just to combine. Pour mixture over pecan filling. – I was worried pouring the cheesecake over the pecan filling would create a whole and not a layer, but the pecan layer had hardened up enough to hold it

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5. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour. Turn oven off but leave cheesecake in oven with door closed for 1 more hour. (I cooked mine in a water bath as I always do)

Perfection! No cracks!

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6. Remove cheesecake from oven and run a knife around the sides to make sure they are not sticking. Let cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

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The next day I spruced it up a little, nothing exciting or over the top.  Placed a few pecans around the edges as a hint of what kind of Cheesecake it was.

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Dessert time!  Finally time to try it!  I am quite nervous before cutting it.  I had read some of the comments and some were undercooked and the filling poured out.  Others overcooked their pie filling and was hard as a rock.  It may look pretty but you just never know.

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It was perfect!  It didn’t ooze out nor did it turn to a rock.

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This cheesecake was perfection!  I will admit, I am my own worst critic.  I always pick apart my desserts thinking something could be better or should have done this different.  Not with this one! This was perfect.   The pictures do not do it justice.

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As I was serving it up, I could hear ‘mmmm’, ‘wow’, ‘OMG Erica!’ ‘Your BEST cheesecake ever!’. At this point I had not tried it yet, I always serve myself last.  When I made sure everyone had dessert (there was also an apple crisp for those cheesecake haters) I served myself up a big piece.  I had a piece and a half, Dad can’t have nuts so he just at the top part, I got his pecan crust.

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OH.MY.GOD!

With one bite, i think I went to heaven.  As soon as the fork hit my mouth angles started singing.  Quite literally, it was a ‘party in my mouth’.  I felt like Clark Grisswold from Christmas Vacation when he finally got his lights to work…

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I seriously had to pause for a moment to take it all in.

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The creamy top layer of cheesecake was so smooth and decadent. I really liked the almost caramel flavour that the brown sugar added to the plain cheesecake.

A few photos from the next day on white plates looks better

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The pecan pie layer was simply amazing!  It was sinfully sweet! I could have just pulled up a big bowl of it and been happy.  It was a perfect consistency.  It almost put me in mine of a perfect butter tart.  I am glad I went with the graham crumb crust, it went perfectly.

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The combination of the creamy cheesecake balanced out the sweetness of the pecan pie filling and it was absolutely delicious! Everyone love it! I was told several times that this was their new favourite. Already had requests for a repeat and a few want the recipe.

I’d say it was a success!  My only complaint is that there was not more left over! haha

Thanks you Christin from Spicy Southern Kitchen for such a wonderful dessert, it was the perfect ending to a wonderful Christmas Eve meal.

Mincemeat Tarts

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Mincemeat, it even sounds gross.  I have never understood why something for dessert would be called ‘mincemeat’, it sounds more like a dinner item like little meat pies.  Mincemeat is a combination of dried fruits, spices and often spirits.  Originally mincemeat did contain meat but now only contains the meat fat or suet.  Many recipes replace the suet with vegetable shortening.

My family really enjoys mincemeat tarts, I have no idea why!  I can’t seem to get by the look or smell of it.  Every year when I ask what everyone would like made for Christmas, Mom always says ‘some mincemeat tarts would be nice’.  I have looked up recipes and my goodness it is quite a process!  It just looked daunting, especially since I hate it!  How selfish is that?!? Well…this year I happen to come across a jar of mincemeat at the grocery store, I was thrilled.  Later I find out this is very common and most people do not make their own.  Who knew?  I was still excited and dove right in.

Mincemeat Tarts

Ingredients:

1 jar mincemeat
pastry

Directions: preheat oven to 450 °F

1.  Prepare your crust.  You can use pre-made tart shells or make your own.  I had some in the freezer that was left over from my last raisin pie, so I used that

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2. Prepare your tart tins – remembering back to Pie Day with Gramma, coat each with butter

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3. Cut your pastry to fit your tins

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4. Open jar of mincemeat – the best part! lol

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5.  Scoop into tart shells

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7. Bake for 3 minutes then reduce heat to 350 °F and continue baking until crust is golden

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8. Allow to cool and remove from tins

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They look delicious, I am told they were, I will take their word for it 😉   I’m just happy that Mom finally got her mincemeat tarts and she really enjoyed them. Thank you President’s Choice and your jar of mincemeat!!

Chocolate Marshmallow Squares

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There are 2 things my Dad asks for, lemon cake with lemon filling for his birthday and Chocolate Marshmallow Squares for Christmas.  This is a recipe that my Nana always made at Christmas time.  It was one of many! She would make several big desserts as well as squares, perhaps this is where I inherited my sweet tooth.  This is a very simple recipes that requires no baking, but to be honest, not many people outside my family like it.  It kind of reminds me of a s’more, I am fairly certain I could eat the entire tray!

Nana’s Chocolate Marshmallow Squares

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24 large marshmallows or equivalent in small
2 oz of semi sweet baking chocolate
1 tsp butter
2 1/2 cups Graham Crumbs
1 can Eagle Brand Milk

Directions:

1. In a double boiler melt chocolate with butter

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2. While chocolate is melting prepare an 8×8 pan.  Coat with butter or Pam and sprinkle with extra graham crumbs.  You must do this or it will stick like glue to the pan!

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3. Prepare marshmallows.  I have never used the large marshmallows, I just can’t see cutting them up, it just wouldn’t look right.  I generally take 24 small handfuls (6-8)

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4. When chocolate has melted add Eagle Brand milk and stir

Don’t skimp, get the good stuff!

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5.  Pour chocolate mixture over marshmallows and add Graham crumbs

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6. Stir! as it starts to set quickly

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7.  Pour into prepared pan, cover and refrigerate over night

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8. The next day it is firm and ready to cut

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I love these!!  They are hard to describe.  They are kind of dry compared to most sweets and squares, but deliciously sweet! I think it might be the texture that turns people away, because the taste is amazing!

Our family loves them and I will continue making them each Christmas, give them a try, you might love them!