Nan’s (modified) Christmas Pudding

It’s with considerable honour I feel as the baton of responsibility for the family Christmas pudding is passed onto me. The family trusts, or perhaps even enjoys my food. They’ve motivated me through disasters, and of course, shared the triumphs too. Luckily, when I tried my Nan’s pudding recipe for the first time, it turned out beautifully.

As usual, I felt the need to play with the recipe. And you should too!

More Rum

You’ll see in the ingredients list below that this recipe calls for ½ pint rum. That’s about a metric cup. I soaked all the fruit in the rum overnight, and those boozy bastards drank it all! So… I thought, let’s add another ½ cup. Can’t hurt.

Well, these fruit are very thirsty as I discovered! I kept adding rum over the next few days until I’d reached the end of my bottle of Bundaberg Rum.

Spices Are More Potent Now

According to Nan, our mixed spice is much stronger than it used to be. I suspect this is because we’re better at storing it now, and we use it faster. So she said I might want to reduce the quantity.

I’m really fond of mixed spice, or any spice, so I tripled the quantity, or there abouts. I just kept adding it to the mix until it tasted great.


  • 1lb Breadcrumbs
  • ¼lb Plain flour
  • 1lb Butter
  • 8 Eggs
  • 2lb Sultanas
  • 1lb Raisins
  • ½lb Mixed peel
  • ¼lb Brown sugar
  • 1tsp Mixed spice
  • 1tsp Ginger
  • 1tsp Nutmeg
  • ½pt Brandy or Rum


  1. Soak fruit overnight in Rum
  2. Cream butter & sugar
  3. Add eggs one at a time, and very slowly
  4. Add flour & spices, ginger & nutmeg
  5. Add breadcrumbs
  6. Add fruit, mix until combined
  7. Pour into a big and little pudding container. Steam the big one for 4 hours. Steam the little one for 2 hours.
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Dipping Sauce

It was heartbreaking the day I found out Ricci’s no longer made their dipping sauce product, and not just because the sauce was delicious, but because I’d never actually used it as a dipping sauce! You see I am oft caught in the pantry and cupboards sneaking tastes of various yummy things. I’d made it almost to the end of the dipping sauce bottles on sneaky tastes alone!

Needless to say, it is, or was, incredible.

So I set out to attempt to reproduce the sauce, armed with some fresh spring rolls to give it a test run. I’m proud of my final sauce, even though it is only a platable echo of Ricci’s legendary dipping sauce.

Asian-Style Dipping Sauce Recipe

  • 150g dark palm sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅜ cup kecap manis
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ shaosing rice wine
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, bruised and chopped
  • 2 sticks ginger about 7cm, grated
  • 2 garlic, grated or crushed
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1½ tsp chilli flakes


  1. Add all ingredients to saucepan. Bring to the boil. Gently simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Strain, chill before serving.

If you can improve the flavour of this recipe I would love to know! Please comment and let me know how you experimented with the flavours.

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Coconut Caramel Sauce

I’m rather caramel mad, even as a child I always ordered the caramel fudge sundae at McDonalds. So when I discovered how to make caramel, I was incredibly pleased with myself.

This sauce is so quick and simple to whip up, and goes on just about anything desserty.

Coconut Caramel Sauce Recipe

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 80ml water
  • 200ml coconut cream


  1. Place sugar and water in a saucepan, cook over a high heat until 165C, or golden caramel in colour.
  2. Remove from head. Add the coconut cream all at once. Whisk like a mofo until you have a smooth sauce.

Scary Recipe Notes

A little word of warning when adding the coconut cream. The boiling sugar is really hot. It will bubble furiously when you do this the first time it will really scare you because you’ll get lots of steam, and lots of bubbling.

Just keep whisking. The sauce cools really quickly, and you end up with a gorgeous smooth caramel sauce. Everyone in the house will want to lick the saucepan. Warn them, it’s hot!

Have a peek at Gordon Ramsay’s quick caramel educational video:

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Almost Almond Praline

Inspired by MasterChef, I started out with the intention of making an almond praline to top my dad’s Dulce de Leche Birthday Cheesecake. I’d never made praline, and having tackled a proper caramel only once before, I thought this was a nice challenge for at home.

I was acutely aware of how much Matt Preston enjoys slightly bitter caramel, and I was determined to get the praline to just the perfect almost-burnt caramelness.

My Brittle Inspiration

Partway through the process I got dreaming about an exquisite peanut brittle I purchased at The Edge Food Store. It was made by The Brittle Co, and absolutely divine. My mind wandered to moments of fighting over the last piece of brittle with other girls at work… it really was that good.

So, I started to surmise I could make great brittle, and top my cheesecake with that instead of almost praline.

Have you ever eaten a Daim? My first introduction to these addictive little beast was a visit to the food section of Ikea. They’re a delicious caramel-like concoction covered in chocolate. Well the caramel has got this nice textural snap to it, it’s hard to describe, but it snaps cleanly, and not unexpectedly like praline does.

I vaguely recalled that the Daim contains almond meal, and I presumed this is now that nice textural snap is achieved.

I didn’t have any almond meal on hand, but considered dessicated coconut would do a similar job. So it was added to the recipe.

The Final Recipe (or pretty close to)

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 80ml water
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 100g slivered almonds
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • ½ tsp bicarb of soda
  • ¼ tsp salt flakes


  1. Roast almonds in the oven at 180°C for about 15 minutes, or until they change colour to golden brown. They will smell amazingly delicious and you’ll want to pinch one off the tray!
  2. Prepare a flat tray with baking paper, and spray with some oil. This will be to lay the brittle down flat.
  3. Put sugar and water in a saucepan over a low heat. Heat until about 150°C, or just starting to change colour and develop some caramel tones.
  4. Add butter and salt flakes. Continue to cook to 165°C, or a deep, rich caramel colour.
  5. Quickly add the almonds, coconut and mix through.
  6. Once combined, add the bicarb of soda. The mixture will froth and increase in volume.
  7. As fast as you can put onto your prepared tray, and flatten out. The brittle will set fairly fast, you have less than 60 seconds to get it thinned out.
  8. Place brittle in a cool place to set hard. Try to defend it against others in the household… it’ll be really hot, but smell oh so amazing.

The Result

I really couldn’t have wished for a better invention. My first batch of almond brittle was perfect! I was so impressed with it that I went to see an old friend who had fought for that last piece of The Brittle Co’s brittle, and asked for feedback. She too said it was awesome!

If you can adjust the recipe and improve, please do let me know.

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Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

I’ve never a made a cheesecake before, but I love to eat them. I particularly like dense, rich, uncooked cheesecakes. The ones of which you can only have an exquisite, but alas narrow slice.

My Dad’s 55th birthday was the perfect opportunity to try out a Dulce de Leche Cheesecake as Dad loves caramel, and loves cheesecakes.

Dulce de Leche

If you’ve never tried this melt-in-your-mouth caramel sauce, you must try to find some, immediately!

Originating in South America, dulce de leche translates as ‘sweet milk’, but in Australia it’s quite close to the caramel we put on top of caramel tarts. Dulce de leche is just a little smoother, and not so thick.

If you can’t find it, you could be perfectly satisfied with a can of caramel top ‘n fill and a spoon.

Choosing the Cheesecake Recipe

I really liked the look of the Baked Dulce de leche Cheesecake on, but I really didn’t want to bake it. I’ve heard all sorts of disasters of baked cheesecakes; splits in the top, sunken middles… not a nice confidence builder for the first one.

I took the idea of using the dulce de leche, and applied it to this Caramel Cheesecake recipe instead, substituting the can of condensed milk for a can of carmel top ‘n fill.

Grappling with Gelatin

One of the biggest issues I had was working with the powdered gelatin in this recipe. The Caramel Cheesecake recipe called for dissolving 3 teaspoons of powdered gelatin in boiling water, and then adding it to the cream cheese mixture.

The gelatin dissolved just fine, but when I added it to the cream cheese mixture it it created long chunky lumps in the mix. I tried whisking the mix… but the gelatin lumps remained.

I figured the temperature difference between the two was too great, so I strained out the mix, and then tried again with the gelatin, letting it cool a bit more before adding it the 2nd time. This was more successful, but I’m not completely confident the final mix was free of gelatin lumpiness. Next time, I’ll let it cool a lot longer.

End Result

The cheesecake was amazingly smooth, and much more delicious than I was expecting! The slightly brown caramel tinge to the cheese looked beautiful, but more importantly tasted amazing.

Even though I strained a fair bit of the gelatin out, the mix set much harder than it should be. It was almost the consistency of cheesecake jelly. It so so firm in fact that it easily separated from the biscuit base. I’ll go much easier on the gelatin next time.

And… the buttersnap biscuits with the butter were far too salty. The recipe didn’t specify for unsalted butter, but it needed it.

I topped the cheesecake with a luscious coconut caramel sauce, and an almond praline which turned out more like a brittle. See the recipes below for more detail.

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