Figgy Pudding - Snowy Palms Style

It is hard for me to understand why normal and intelligent people of sound reasoning would eat dried fruit, which we must all agree, is fruit picked and packaged just short of it rotting on the vine or tree. Raisins and prunes are vile gag inducing things that in nature would be reduced to topsoil if they weren't picked and wickedly sold as "good for you" snacks to the gullible among us.

Not content to leave well enough alone, there are those of equally questionable judgement or intelligence that take other fruits - good, edible and tasty fruits, then intentionally desiccate them and serve them up as snacks and or energy food to others of questionable intelligence. It is madness pure and simple.

With the above in mind I have always shied away from Christmas Pudding, Christmas-Gag-Me-With-A-Fruit-Cake (which also includes Wedding Cake), along with cinnamon buns, cakes and cookies that harbour or even potentially harbour little dried bits of pre-rotted fruit waiting to send my swallower into full reverse should I accidentally try to ingest one or more of them. Sadly, people do try to trick me by lying in telling me that the little-bitty things in the baked good they placed in front of me are pieces of walnut or pecan (which I love). Tricksters! Liars! Evil-doers all!!! I maintain vigilance always on matters of dried fruit and I always will, you can not easily get that stuff past my lips. Figgy Pudding was also included in my avoidance.

So it was with much trepidation that I sampled some Figgy Pudding at one of Prince George's best restaurants, North 54. After being cajoled and berated into submission by those around me to "Oh for goodness sake, TRY IT" - I was drinking Hester Creek at the time and my resistance was weak, I ordered it and I liked it. It did not turn the private dining room into a vomitorium, which I must say was my expected outcome and one I was preparing for, instead, I consumed the entire offering and then set out to bring a version of it to Snowy Palms Resort's kitchen that would not induce a gag reflex in anyone that hates dried fruits and the recipe below was the outcome. Tres yummy. Tres, tres yummy...

The difference is that the figs and dates are blended to a puree thus eliminating the potential adverse outcome of attempted ingestion of a swallower-blocking dried fruit nugget in hiding.

I Give You Figgy Pudding

14 large, dried figs (I use Turkish figs)
10 dried dates
1 ½ cups water
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup dark rum
¼ cup brandy
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger powder
¼ tsp nutmeg
pinch ground cloves (optional)
½ tsp salt
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (or use canola oil - same, same)
1 Tbsp lemon zest
½ cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
½ cup raisins (optional) why anyone would add these is beyond me...

8 - 1 cup ovenproof ramekins

2 cups brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp cinnnamon
3 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350˚ F

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt; set aside.

Place the figs, dates, baking soda, and water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the rum and brandy to the boiled figs and dates. Bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat. Set pot aside and let cool to room temperature, then puree with a blender (immersion or countertop).

Beat the eggs, vanilla and brown sugar until they are thoroughly blended.

Then mix in the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter (or oil), fig puree and lemon zest, then lastly add the dry ingredients you have waiting from procedure above.

Now would be a good time to add the nuts and/or raisins if using.

Pour the finished mixture into 8 buttered and floured individual ramekins. Place ramekins in a high-sided baking tray and add hot water to bring the water level to half way up the ramekins (it is now a water bath method).

Place tray in preheated oven, bake for 25 to 35 minutes or thereabouts (your oven may vary time required). Now is a good time to start making the sauce.

Test with toothpick or thin blade knife to ensure they are fully cooked.

Remove the ramekins from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Once cool enough to handle run a small knife around the edge to release the puddings from the ramekins then turnout the now emancipated puddings onto a cooling rack as you prepare the serving plates.

Note: One is not like the other in the picture below.  The ones on the left were baked in the water bath with buttered and floured ramekins, the ones on the right were baked in the oven as normal, not in a water bath as a test - they failed. SO USE A WATER BATH!

Prepare the sauce by stirring the sugar, cream and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium-low heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat then add the butter and stir until incorporated.

Pour a little sauce onto the center of each serving plate, place pudding onto sauce, then pour more sauce over the puddings. Top with whipped cream. Serve warm.

Christmas Cake?  Wedding Cake? Never! Never! Never!

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