This year I am hosting Christmas at mine for the first time.  I thought it was about time I gave my family a break and took my turn.  Now I am wondering what on earth I have let myself in for?!  I have a cunning plan though … it’s simple – that’s the plan – keep it simple!

If like me you are not a big fan of Christmas pudding, and fed up of trifles and cheese cake, then the pudding I intend to make may just be the one for you.  It has two main advantages.  Firstly it can be made beforehand, so you literally have nothing to do except serve on the day. Secondly it contains copious amounts of alcohol so always goes down well! You just need to make sure that you don’t do what my dad did one year when making it; almost drown it in alcohol which left us all a little drunk and in need of an afternoon sleep, unless of course that’s your goal.

So my recipe of the day is Zuccotto – Enjoy!


  • 3  oz almonds, shelled but unskinned,
  • 3  oz hazlenuts, shelled and skinned
  • 14oz Madeira cake
  • 8 tbsp brandy
  • 8 tbsp orange liqueur
  • 1  pt double cream
  • 1  oz icing sugar
  • 7 oz dark chocolate, chopped
For decoration:
  • A few tbsp. of cocoa powder, hazelnuts, roasted almonds and chopped chocolate.



  • Roast nuts until light brown, leave to cool then roughly chop in food processor.
  • Lightly grease a 4pt (2 ltr) plastic or glass bowl and line with cling film, allowing the cling film to hang over the brim.
  • Slice the Madeira cake thinly then cut each slice in half diagonally.  Use approximately two thirds of the cake to line the bowl.  If any slices come away from the sides, press them back firmly with your fingers.
  • Mix the brandy and liqueur and sprinkle over the cake, keeping some for the top layer.
  • To make the filling whip together the cream and icing sugar until the mix is bulky and makes soft peaks.  Fold in the nuts and 4 oz of the chopped chocolate, then refrigerate.
  • In the meantime, melt the remaining chocolate and leave to cool at room temperature.
  • Move one-third of the filling into a separate bowl, add the cooled chocolate and mix well.
  • Spoon the remaining two thirds of the filling into the cake lined mould, spreading against the sides to make a well in the middle.
  • Add the chocolate mixture to the well.  Level with a spatula.
  • Bang the bowl a couple of times on the work surface to settle the contents, then cover the top with the remaining cake and pour over the remaining liqueur mixture. Cover with  cling film and refrigerate for at least six hours before serving.
  • To serve: remove the cling film from the top, cover the bowl with an upside down plate, turn over, remove bowl and cling film.  Sprinkle with cocoa powder, nuts and chocolate to decorate.


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