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20091203

How to Make Brandy Sauce for Christmas

In my household Christmas Pudding just isn't the same without a blanket of brandy sauce. It perfectly complements the richness of the pudding itself in a way that plain old custard could never do.

Brandy sauce is so simple to make that you can prepare it in a couple of minutes while another helpful member of the family clears all the turkey plates from the table.

You can substitute rum instead of the brandy if you wish. If you prefer rum I recommend a good dark rum, not the clear rum intended for use only in cocktails. If the rum doesn't taste good on its own it won't taste good in a sauce either. I prefer brandy in my sauce. Most good quality Christmas Puddings are made with brandy anyway and as my father warned me when I was young "never mix your drinks".

Ingredients
  • Cornstarch
  • Sugar
  • Milk
  • Vanilla essence
  • Nutmeg
  • Brandy

Preparation
  • Mix a tablespoon of corn starch into just enough milk to make a smooth paste, then add a little more milk to make it pourable
  • Bring one cup (250ml) of milk almost to the boil then reduce the heat
  • Stir in enough sugar to sweeten the sauce to your taste (about 2 tablespoons should be right)
  • Stir in half a teaspoon of nutmeg - don't guess, measure it. Use too much nutmeg and you will make the sauce too bitter
  • Stir in 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence (optional but it gives the sauce a creamy flavour)
  • Pour in a little of the corn starch mix and stir well; add more corn starch mix until the sauce begins to thicken
  • Do not add too much corn starch mix to the milk; you don't want it too thick - remember it will thicken more as it cools
  • Stir in a shot of brandy. Cheap brandy works just fine; making sauce would be a waste of fine brandy.
  • Cover the sauce and leave it to cool for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Stir and serve immediately - do not reheat the sauce

John's Notes
You should prepare brandy sauce immediately before using it. If you even think of reheating it in a microwave a swarm of screaming demons will infest your nightmares for eternity (and you will spoil the sauce's texture and boil away the alcohol).

A good sauce should be be lightly thickened but still pour easily. Drizzle it over your Christmas Pudding but do not drown the pudding in sauce. The pudding is the main event; the sauce simply complements it's flavour.

To be honest, I have been so busy down at the old trading post during the rush of Christmas shopping season that I didn't actually have time to make any sauce this week. However, this recipe is the one I have used for many years at my family's Christmas table.

I have one golden rule when I cook; I cook food the way I want it to taste ... and I want it to taste as good as humanly possible. If you agree with that principle you will love this sauce. Merry Christmas!

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