For as long as I remember, my family has enjoyed Cranberry Pudding on Christmas Eve. Sometimes in the afternoon before the early service, sometimes in the evening before the midnight service. Sometimes both. It is a hard and fast tradition. In fact, I remember registering for a double boiler on my wedding gift registry (13 years ago!) simply because I had to have it for cranberry pudding. Seriously, I don't use it for anything else. I melt chocolate in the microwave.
Apparently, Grandma Jean made Cranberry Pudding and I think Mom has a recipe card with Grma Jean's hand writing. I do remember Christmases when I was a kid when I passed on dessert. Cranberry Pudding just not too pretty. We've shared it with various friends over the years and everyone agrees that the presentation is not great, but it sure is tasty. The Hornbuckles came over for dessert when we lived in Coronado, CA, before we all had kids. And our last Christmas in Jacksonville, we had dinner at the McCormick's home, went to church together and came back to our home for Cranberry Pudding.
Over the years, various family members have tried to double the recipe, and the consensus is that you can't. It never cooks in the middle. And then it's even more unattractive. I remember one Christmas when mom could not find fresh cranberries. I think someone traipsed all over town looking for cranberries, until we finally called Grandpa Dick and he sent some Fed Ex. Now, I always buy them at Thanksgiving and put them in the freezer. Just in case.
In a mixing bowl dissolve 2 tsp baking soda in 1/2 cup of boiling water. Add 1/2 cup molasses. Add 1 1/4 cup flour and 1 tsp baking powder. Add 1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries that you had cut in half and mixed with 1/4 cup flour. (Use half of the one pound bag. Save the other half because Jeff will insist on a second batch later in the week.) Place in greased double boiler and steam over water for 2 1/2 hours, covered tightly. Serve warm with sauce.
Ok, here's my revision from last year. (Though I do feel sentimental about the double boiler.) Place the batter in a greased 2.5 quart glass bowl. Wrap tightly with foil. Place in crock pot. Pour enough water in the crock pot to come up an inch or so. Cook on low for 2 1/2 hours. Careful not to steam away all the water. I'm not sure about these times. I'll have to be more scientific this year and keep a record. This allows for a much prettier presentation. You can turn the pudding out of the bowl and decorate with holly or evergreen.
Ok, here's the most important part... the sauce.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup whipping cream (do not whip)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Heat all ingredients, but do not boil.
Scoop out a bit of the cranberry pudding, top with sauce. Serve on pretty plates with fancy candles clipped to the sides. (That's another part of the tradition. Mom gave me her pretty candle clips last year. Very festive.)