I brought you some figgy pudding, I brought you some figgy pudding!
Remember when I made rice pudding last week and said that I had another pudding recipe coming that was going to confuse people? Well, this is the one I was talking about. Please tell me I’m not the only one who grew up listening to that line in the lyrics of We Wish You a Merry Christmas and picturing a bowl of purple custard. Anyone?
I kind of always felt that line “we won’t go until we get some.” was a little demanding and that figgy pudding must be really something to merit it. There’s no way I can vouch for what you’ll think, but personally, I’m pretty happy to say that it’s really good, or at least this here little version of mine seemed pretty good to me.
You also have to keep in mind that the time period of this song, there weren’t 24-hour supermarkets open a few blocks away where you could swing by and grab a cake mix. No, they had limited resources and dried fruits were a novelty that most people reserved only for special occasions so no wonder they weren’t willing to leave without their figgy pudding.
In essence, figgy pudding (and pretty much any pudding mentioned prior to this last century) is referring to a cake. A fruit cake actually. Traditionally they used things they had, dried fruits, dry breadcrumbs, some basic baking ingredients, and a touch of alcohol, to make a dessert that was affordable during the winter time. It’s a bit unusual in our modern Christmas dessert line-up but I have a thing for tasting historic foods incase you haven’t noticed.
As for the cute little toppings that are probably familiar to a lot of you, those are holly leaves. I felt so dumb when I went out in my own backyard and realized we have a huge holly tree that I have neglected to notice for this entire holiday season, what’s my problem! At least I figured it out for this post because these just wouldn’t look the same without them.
The only thing is, it’s summer here, so there aren’t any berries on it and I decided to just use some leftover fondant from my gingerbread house for the berries. I had to put a ton of dye to get them red enough so I wouldn’t let anyone eat them, they were strictly for cosmetic purposes. But you have to admit that these look so classic, like they jumped right out of a Christmas Carol or Little Woman!
Speaking of my gingerbread house guys, that’s part of what inspired the flavor of this recipe in case you hadn’t already guessed. I was going to use breadcrumbs but I just couldn’t justify it when I have so much leftover gingerbread around. I think it made these extra delish and so did browning the butter. Oh my goodness, and the glaze, wow! Just try not to start drinking it when the smell is wafting through your kitchen. If you make these, the glaze is a must!
Okay, so I feel like I’ve completed just about every priority on my bucket list now that I know what figgy pudding is. Ha, Liv jokingly asked me if I was going to make a cup of good cheer to go with this and I told her, “Don’t be silly, you know I and some of my readers aren’t 21 yet!” I did include a little alcohol in the recipe because it just feels so much more authentic that way. Like stepping into the age-old carols we hear every year with each bite. I understand for those of you who don’t want to add it though, so feel free to leave it out. However, the alcohol cooks off and also helps to soften the dried fruit, but it’s your choice.
- 3 tablespoons brandy
- 1 1/2 cups dried figs (stems removed and roughly chopped)
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, divided
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups gingerbread cookie crumbs (or other cookie crumbs such as graham crackers, see note)
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 brown butter (the same butter listed above)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- dash of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and grease two 6-cavity extra large muffin tins (see notes) with oil. Combine the first 5 ingredients (figs - milk) in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Cover with a lid and set aside to cool down.
- Put 3/4 cup butter into a medium saucepan and stir gently over low heat until completely melted. Increase heat to medium high and continue stirring for about 6 or 7 minutes until the liquid part turns an amber brown with darker flecks of brown in it. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Now back to the fig mixture, use a rubber spatula to scrape it all into a blender or food processor then blend until mostly smooth. Set aside.
- Now back to the brown butter, Measure out 1/2 cup and leave the rest in the pan for the glaze. Pour butter into a large mixing bowl and add sugar; beat until mixed. Add eggs, baking powder, salt, zest, and vanilla. Mix well then scrape the figgy mixture into the bowl and stir until combined. Stir in flour and cookie crumbs then add chocolate chips.
- Spoon mixture into your prepared pan and fill to just below the line. Bake for 18 - 25 minutes, depending on pan size, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for about 10 minutes, then invert pan over a tray and remove puddings. Serve warm with the warm glaze on top (garnish with holly leaves and berries if desired.)
- While the puddings are in the oven, add brown sugar, cream, and salt to the pan of remaining brown butter and place over medium low heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring gently, for about 4 or 5 minutes until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve over puddings.
If you prefer to use graham crackers or butter cookies but still want gingerbread flavor, just add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon cloves to the batter.
If you don't have a large muffin tin this recipe can be baked in just about anything that's oven safe. You can use a loaf pan, a 13x9 pan, or even do micro puddings in regular cupcake pans.