My family has many Christmas traditions, one of my favorite of which is cranberry pudding. My grandma makes this dessert every year on Christmas Day. As a child, I was pretty wary of it (dessert without chocolate? Unheard of!). However, when I finally reached the age to be adventurous enough to try it, I realized what all the adults had been talking about – this stuff was amazing!
The secret to this pudding is the magical butter sauce. My entire family goes crazy over it. Yes, I realize that this blog is devoted to healthy eating and butter sauce is likely not on the top of the health food list. However, we also believe in indulging the occasional splurge, especially when it is a tradition! (Plus, we do firmly believe in butter as a natural ingredient – no margarine here!)
Anyway, back to the butter sauce. The funny thing about the pudding is that it contains no sugar, so it tastes pretty unsatisfying on its own. However, add the butter sauce and you have deliciousness incarnate. I honestly think this may be one of my favorite desserts ever – and it’s so rich that I’m happy to enjoy it to the fullest just once a year. (Well, twice this year, since I wanted to share it with you!)
It does take a bit of time to make, but most of the time is hands-off while you wait for the pudding to steam. And it’s very worth the wait. If you are feeling adventurous, give this recipe a try for a special holiday meal – I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as our family does!
Grandma Kuhnau’s traditional recipe
Serves about 12
What You Need
For the pudding:
Steamer with 9-inch round pan OR large stock pot and 9-inch round cake pan (see Step 4 below)
2 2/3 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup dark molasses
1 cup warm water
12 ounces cranberries
For the butter sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Note: We cut the ingredients for the original butter sauce in half and found that it made plenty, but you can double it if you’re feeling extra indulgent!
What To Do
1 Cut the cranberries in half. Place them in a colander and rinse out the seeds.
2 In a large bowl, combine 2 2/3 cup flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and a pinch salt. Gradually mix in 1 cup dark molasses and 1 cup warm water. Fold in the cranberries.
3 Grease the round pan well. Pour the cranberry mixture into the pan.
4 Fill the steamer with water, and place the pan in the steamer. If you don’t have a steamer, take a large stock pot and place something in the bottom to elevate the cake pan, like a trivet, cookie cutter, empty tuna can, or folded dish towel. Then place the pan on top and fill the pot with water about half-way up the side of the pan.
5 Bring the water to a boil, and steam for about 2 1/2 hours, checking the water level periodically (around every 30 minutes or so) and refilling as needed. The pudding is done when you can insert a toothpick into the center and it comes out clean. Allow the pudding to cool (the pudding can also be made in advance and kept on the counter or in the fridge until ready to serve).
6 When ready to serve, make the butter sauce: in a saucepan over low heat, melt 1/2 cup butter, stirring often. Stir in 1/2 cup half-and-half and 1 cup sugar, then add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. To serve, cut the pudding into pieces and drizzle with butter sauce.