This is a first for Dinner Plan-it...the very first time a recipe is being repeated. Why?
Because it's so freaking GOOD! And, it's one of the best holiday-appropriate desserts I've posted. AND...because the Post-Gazette PG-Plate blog includes Dinner Plan-it on it's Blog Roll, I especially want my PG followers to have access to this gingery, figgy, boozy take on a traditional, very Merry Olde England-ish and positively Dickensian plum pudding.
Without further adieu, my very first rerun:
There are flavors that send me time traveling back to the Christmases of my childhood. Christmas dinners back then always started with orange sherbet in gingerale (fancy!) and ended with traditional desserts - usually more than one.
Aunt Anna and Uncle Bert, PapPap, the cousins, my sister, mom and dad were all seated around the big old dining room table swapping jokes (occasionally even a slightly naughty one!) and telling stories long into the night. Sometimes we'd play cards around the same old table...Flinch, 500 Rummy, Canasta...good old-fashioned games those were.
It's the nose-tingling scent of warm spices in the air - ginger, clove, allspice, cinnamon - that I think triggers those wonderful memories. We always had a mincemeat pie or a plum pudding with those very same Dickensian notes - rum or brandy, dried fruits and spices. I was on a quest to recreate the flavors of Christmases of old. But with a twist. What to do, what to do.
So I decided a trifle would lighten up somewhat heavy flavors with a fluffy vanilla cream. Fresh pears came to mind to add a little crunch and brightness. Thus the dessert came together.
It was beautiful! Even better, it was just what I had in mind. Gingery, spicy goodness all together with creamy mousse and lovely dark rum...and just a glimmering of zesty orange.
Maybe it wasn't the simple, easy days of the 1950's again, but that's okay. Back then we didn't have our kids and grandkids to make brand new memories together and to share some of the old stories with. You know, that's what special family dinners are all about...remembering the past and making memories for the future.
Wishing you all nothing but the sweetest of your own warm remembrances...and to making some of the best stories ever!
Gingerbread Figgy Pudding and Dark Rum Trifle
- 2/3 of an 8"X8" pan of gingerbread, cubed - I used the recipe from "The Cake Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free" by Ann Byrn using a Hodgson Mills Yellow cake mix. (If you are using a normal, NON-gluten-free mix, make an 8"X8" pan and make cupcakes out of the rest of the batter.) Snack on the 1/3 that's left!
- 2 oranges, Cut the peel off with a sharp knife and make strips 3" X 1/8". Cut the oranges in half and juice. Reserve.
- 1 cup dried Black Mission figs, diced
- 1/2 cup dark rum, or more if needed, I used Kraken
- 2 Bosc pears, cored and diced
- 1 package French vanilla mousse mix, prepared. I used Dr. Oetker brand - gluten-free
- 8 ounces Cool Whip Lite®, thawed
- candied orange peel, see recipe below - use peel from above
Bake an 8" X 8" pan of gingerbread a couple of days ahead of when you want to serve the trifle.
You're going to make the trifle the day ahead of when you want to serve it - quite nice for a more relaxed party, yes? The morning you're making the trifle, put the diced figs into a 2 cup measuring cup. Add the reserved orange juice and the rum. If the rum doesn't cover the figs completely, add more until it does. Set aside for several hours before making the trifle.
Later in the day, make the French vanilla mousse according to package directions. Let sit for a few minutes and then gently fold the Cool Whip into the mousse. Set aside.
Assembly: To the bottom of a nice trifle dish or other tall, pretty bowl, make a layer of 1/2 the gingerbread cubes. Strain the liquid from the figs - RESERVE! Scatter half the figs over the gingerbread, drizzle half the reserved OJ and rum over the that, layer half the mousse mixture over top and repeat layers ending with mousse. Refrigerate overnight loosely covered with foil.
Before serving, decorate the top with candied orange peel and serve in beautiful goblets.
Candied Orange Peel:
- the orange strips from above
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the orange strips, bring to boil again. Boil gently 15 minutes. Pour through a strainer and rinse while gently stirring the strips to rinse thoroughly. Set aside.
In the same pot, bring
- 3 cups sugar
- 3 cups water
Pour the orange strips through a strainer and collect the liquid in a large container. THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL ORANGE SIMPLE SYRUP! It would be a shame to waste it. Use it for cocktails or to drizzle over yellow cakes or...well, just use your imagination. Refrigerate it.
Okay, back to the candied orange peel....now spread
- 1 cup of sugar
Use what you want for garnishing the trifle and save the rest for something else. Wouldn't the orange simple syrup and candied orange peel make a lovely Christmas morning Bellini? Maybe with a little cranberry juice for color?
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