The ticks-all-the-boxes festive dessert recipe you’ve been looking for

Let's not pretend, shall we? Traditional Christmas pudding is just terrible. We set food writer Claire the challenge of coming up with an alternative that will taste great and wow your guests


When I first began researching an alternative Christmas pudding I swiflty discovered that there are rather a few things people would change about the traditional festive dessert if they could. Always game for a challenge, I worked out a tick list, deciding the finished recipe would have to hit every single one:

  • No rind (the non-edible part of the fruit? No thank you), no raisins (weird and pithy and sometimes crunchy), no currants (just no)
  • No nuts – safe for allergy sufferers
  • No steaming – who has the time or inclination to steam something for three hours in a busy kitchen on Christmas Day?
  • No need to prepare it two months in advance – that ship has more than sailed
  • No suet – fine for vegetarian friends and relatives
  • Quick to cook with a microwave option – the oven is full of roast potatoes
  • No expensive or obscure ingredients – I’m not trawling round a supermarket on Christmas Eve looking for pistachio paste, thank you very much.
  • No alcohol – perfect for children and non-drinkers
  • But optional alcohol… Well, it is Christmas!

I’ve cracked it.

The ticks-all-the-boxes chocolate orange Christmassy pudding

This recipe creates something that still looks like a regular Christmas pudding, so you don’t feel as though you’re totally flying in the face of tradition. The orange flavour makes it taste festive without relying on all those cinnamon-nutmeg-clove flavours that so many people can’t stand. And best of all, it’s remarkably easy to put together. Which is just what you need if you’re hosting on the big day.

Tip: you can even use some spare chocolate orange for the melting chocolate chunks [Is there such a thing as ‘spare’ chocolate orange? – Ed].


(Serves 4 – 6)
80ml double cream
100g plain chocolate, chopped
120g soft light brown sugar
50g soft butter
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
120g plain flour
60g white breadcrumbs
150g milk chocolate chips or chopped chocolate orange
Zest of one small orange
Cream or chocolate sauce to serve
Clementine/satsuma segments to serve
Orange liqueur or brandy to flame


1. Put the cream and plain chocolate in a small bowl. Heat in the microwave on 600w for 50-60 seconds until just melted. Stir gently then allow to cool while you make the rest of the mix.

2. In a larger bowl, beat the butter, sugar, eggs, zest and flour together until creamy.

3. Pour the chocolate and cream into the mixture and mix well. Add the breadcrumbs, chocolate chips/chocolate orange and stir.

4. In the microwave: Butter a microwaveable pudding bowl (approx. two pints). Fill with the mixture then loosely cover and microwave at 600w for six minutes.


4. In the oven: Butter a (850ml/1.5 pint) pudding tin or basin and put a circle of greaseproof paper in the base. Fill with the mixture and bake at 160°C for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out almost clean.

5. Let the pudding stand for 5 minutes then turn out before serving with cream, chocolate sauce and clementine/Satsuma segments.

6. To flame (optional): heat a few tablespoons of orange liqueur or brandy in a pan until warm, switch off the lights then ignite with a match and carefully pour over the pudding.


Do you have a failsafe crowd-pleasing recipe for Christmas? Let us know in the comments below.

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Claire Sutton

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Claire Sutton

Claire is our resident expert on all things edible: she cooks, styles and photographs her mouth-watering recipes from the comfort of her country kitchen in Derbyshire. You can find all manner of recipes, projects and photos of her dog, Ernie, over at