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Plum Pudding Bombe from Felicity Cloake's The Perfect Host is the perfect alternative to Christmas pudding. This delicious, chocolate dessert recipe is perfect for entertaining a crowd and can be make a few weeks in advance and kept in the freezer.

From the book

Felicity Cloake


Just thinking about this recipe makes me smile: it’s the modern equivalent of one of those witty medieval gastronomic tricks like the cockentrice – and rather easier than sewing together a chicken and a pig. As long as you keep it tightly wrapped in the freezer, it can be made weeks in advance, although I wouldn’t advise putting the chocolate on until nearer the time.

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75g sultanas
75g currants
50g chopped mixed peel
25g glacé cherries, quartered
5 tbsp brandy
500ml whole milk
250ml whipping cream
130g ground almonds
5 egg yolks
140g caster sugar
300g dark chocolate, broken up pieces
25g white chocolate, broken up pieces


1. Put the dried fruit, peel, cherries and brandy in a bowl, cover and leave to soak for at least 4 hours.

2. Put the milk, cream and almonds in a pan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Take off the heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes, then strain through a fine sieve into a jug, pushing through as much as possible with a spatula. Discard the almond pieces left behind in the sieve and wipe out the pan. Pour the strained milk back into the pan and reheat.

3. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a heatproof bowl, then pour on the hot milk mixture, stirring continuously.

4. Wipe the pan again, then return the mixture and heat very gently, stirring all the time, until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Transfer to a metal bowl and place this inside a larger bowl or sink of ice-cold water. Stir regularly until cool. Meanwhile, line a 1 litre pudding basin with lightly greased clingfilm.

5. Use an ice cream maker to churn the mixture until thick, then add the soaked fruit and the brandy and churn for a further 10 minutes, until thickened again. Alternatively, spoon the mixture into the pudding basin and freeze for an hour, then stir the frozen edges and top into the mix and return to the freezer. Repeat three or four further times until frozen, but still soft – once it starts to freeze properly, you can fold the fruit in. Cover and freeze until solid. If using an ice cream maker, spoon the frozen mixture into the lined basin, cover and freeze until solid, preferably overnight.

6. Put the dark chocolate into a large heatproof bowl set above a pan of simmering water and stir until melted. Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring regularly to keep it liquid.

7. Take the bombe out of the freezer, uncover and put a serving plate on top. Invert the basin and slide the bombe out, removing the clingfilm. Pour the melted chocolate over the top, working quickly to spread it all over the surface before it sets. It’s easier if you have an assistant to help out with a spatula.

8. Put the plate back into the freezer for about 10 minutes, until the chocolate has set. Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate in a fresh bowl. Once the dark chocolate has set, spoon the white chocolate on top, and return it to the freezer for at least 5 minutes before serving. A sprig of holly on top looks particularly festive (obviously, please don’t eat it).


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