A citrus spin on a classic: Orange Spice Pudding with Cognac Caramel Sauce

This Newfoundland cook’s simple but decadent version of a Christmas pudding may become one of your annual holiday traditions.

This Newfoundland cook’s simple but decadent Christmas pudding may become one of your new holiday traditions

(Photography: Barry C. Parsons)

The holiday season in Newfoundland is a sweet tooth's paradise. Bakers in this province are renowned nationwide for not only their skills, but for their prolific production of breads, cookies, tarts & fruitcakes at this time.

The weeks leading to Christmas have always been the apex of the annual baking calendar in my family too. With freezers packed to capacity and cupboards filled with tins of rum soaked fruitcakes, no family produced more Christmas goodies than the Parsons household. I still hold firmly to many Christmas traditions, like Nan Morgan's Chocolate Snowballs, Newfoundland Cherry Cake and simple shortbread cookies, but every year I always like to try something new, particularly for Christmas day dessert.

This year I've settled on this modern-day, simplified version of a Christmas pudding. And no decent pudding is worth its salt without a decadent sauce; this cognac caramel sauce is the perfect accompaniment to this beautifully fragrant and indulgent dessert.

Holiday traditions always start somewhere. This amazing pudding may just become one of yours.

(Photography: Barry C. Parsons)
(Photography: Barry C. Parsons)

Orange Spice Pudding with Cognac Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

For the pudding:

  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice (or other citrus juice such as lemon, tangerine or clementine)
  • 2 tbsp finely minced citrus zest (orange, lemon, tangerine or clementine, or any combination)

For the cognac caramel sauce:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • ⅔ cup butter cut in small cubes
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup cognac (or brandy), depending on how strongly flavoured you like it to be

Preparation

For the pudding:

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Grease and flour a bundt pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg.

Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk, orange juice and citrus zest. Mix together with a whisk, or on low speed in an electric mixer just until all the ingredients have been well blended together. Do not over mix.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Baking times will vary depending on the size of the baking pan; the toothpick test is the best way to tell if the pudding is fully baked. Rest in the pan for 10 minutes before turning onto the serving plate.

Serve warm with the cognac caramel sauce.

For the cognac caramel sauce:

Note:

I use a large saucepan of about 2 quarts or larger because the sugar foams up when you add the butter and cream, so make sure you have a large enough pot. The real skill in making caramel sauce is knowing the point at which the color is perfect. Good advice for beginners is that it is better to be a little too light in color rather than a little too dark. Have your butter and cream at the ready, as timing is crucial for this recipe.

Begin by mixing the sugar and water in a large saucepan. Simmer the sugar and water over medium heat until the mixture begins to turn a light to medium amber colour.

Do not stir the boiling sugar, this can cause it to crystallize. If you find the sugar starts to crystallize, use a pastry brush to brush water around the inside edge of the pot as it boils. You may have to do this several times. Carefully swirling the pan occasionally is also helpful to avoid crystallization of the sugar.

When the colour is right, quickly add the butter and stir quickly until the butter is melted.

Remove from the heat immediately and pour in the whipping cream, stirring constantly until the sauce is uniformly smooth.

Finally, quickly whisk in the cognac.

Cool completely to room temperature. Store in an airtight plastic container or in mason jars.

Yield: Makes 12 servings.


Barry C. Parsons has been blogging his home cooking and baking recipes at RockRecipes.com for the past 10 years. He has published 3 best selling cookbooks through Breakwater Books and lives in St. John's Newfoundland with his wife and 2 children.

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