Bristol Monkey Science Christmas Surprise

Traditionally, in the cold northern hemisphere zones, Christmas puddings tend to be elaborate, doughy masses of flour and fruit, drowned in brandy and then set on fire.

Bristol Monkey Science Christmas Surprise
Photo: David Basckin

To make Bristol Monkey Science Christmas Surprise for six, you will need:

  • 250g pecan nuts
  • 500ml cream
  • 100g castor sugar
  • Freshly ground cinnamon 
  • A batch of meringues
  • Strawberry jam, 
  • ad libitum

It hasn’t really got a name but I learnt all about it a million or so years ago on an academic visit to Bristol University in England. My host – who lived in a very small castle and like me, studied primates – claimed it was his personal invention. So let’s call it Bristol Monkey Science Christmas Surprise.

Starting from the bottom, you have two choices when it comes to meringues: bought or home-made. Since the big idea here is to make life easy for the cook, making meringues at home may not be your first choice. What goes very well at my place is a sort of compromise. I visit a home industry shop down the road and buy home-made meringues from them. Alternatively, meringues of unknown industrial origin are easily sourced from supermarkets.

And so it begins. Whip the cream and castor sugar until very thick and firm. Break up the meringues into large, irregular pieces. Arrange the pieces to form a tower in the middle of each plate. Use the stiffened cream as glue to keep the larger fragments vertical. Drench the structure with more cream and a couple of tablespoons of strawberry jam. Sprinkle chopped pecan nuts over the assemblage, letting them fall where they will. A pinch or two of ground cinnamon comes next, followed by some meringue crumbs and a fresh mint leaf as final garnish.

Serve this at once and resist the festive urge to drench it with Klippies and set it on fire.

Merry Christmas to all farmers, the most important people in the country!