The Heston Christmas pudding is probably the most famous of all celebrity endorsed food products. When they first came out everyone went crazy, Waitrose sold out and they started appearing on ebay for upwards of £1000. So last year they brought them back and made shed loads more, and what do you know they all sold out again. This year they were back again and a few days before Christmas I picked one up. Well done Waitrose for sorting your stock management issues.
It seems that nearly everyone has already tried this Christmas pud, so being a specialist in eating this kind of thing I feel I’m a bit late to the party – still better late than never.
The box has the option of microwaving the pud for about 20 mins or “for best results” steaming it for 3 hours. I was at my parents house for Christmas so unlike at home, I had access to a microwave to make things easy. But Christmas is a slow and steady kind of day so I opted for getting the best results and stuck it in a pan for 3 hours, taking a precious hob ring out of action in the process.
When the turkey cooked in record time and was ready an hour and a half before it should have been, it sent all important Christmas dinner timings out the window. This meant not only that there was a considerable break between our main course and desert (no bad thing) but also that the pudding took longer to cook than the turkey – who’d have thought it!
I really want to do an experiment and cook one pudding in the microwave and steam the other and see if there was a noticeable difference. I will never do this though because a) I don’t want to spend £30 on Christmas puddings for a silly experiment and b) they serve 10-12 people each and because I’m the kind of person who considers doing this kind of thing I don’t have 20-24 friends.
After 3 hours steaming I turned the pudding out onto a plate, and it looked very impressive. Considering all I had done was paid for it, put it in a pan and stuck it on a plate my sense of pride at the final result was disproportionate to the work involved. I carried it through to the dining room, poured over some brandy and set it alight. I was very impressed, nobody else noticed as they’d long ago dispersed from the dining room because they’d had to wait ages for it to arrive.
We dug in and it was so satisfying seeing an orange sat in the middle of the pudding, like a golden orb of joy. It oozed juice onto the plate and the pudding looked incredibly moist. The big test for any Heston product is whether or not the extra touches make a noticeable difference to the final product and if those differences are an improvement on a more traditional version – with the pudding he has a winner.
It was packed with fruit, had an excellent rich flavour and lovely chunky nuts. It felt like a very generous pudding with no scrimping on the important stuff. The orange itself had turned into a sugary, jelly like ball and wasn’t overpowering with citrus, it complemented the dried fruits wonderfully. Despite being rich and luxurious, it wasn’t an overwhelming stodge bomb, it somehow managed to remain quite light. Of course “light” is a relative term, it isn’t light in a gooseberry fool kind of way, just when set against a lesser Christmas pud.
Comments that came back from the family sat around the table ranged from “the orange tastes like marmalade” to “dogs can’t eat Christmas pudding – it’ll kill them” and “this is lovely” to total silence from my dad. These comments are tantamount to a ringing endorsement. The silence from my dad wasn’t too worrying; he eyes most food stuffs with suspicion. Whilst he always has Christmas pud, he isn’t the greatest lover of it. Silence therefore was not a complaint, and consequently I’m taking it as a compliment.
Heston your Christmas pudding was a triumph. I hardly ever buy anything I blog about a second time, but I reckon Christmas 2013 could see the return of this pud. As long as Waitrose don’t mess up!
Heston from Waitrose Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding 1.2kg £14.95