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Spotted Dick Isn't As Naughty As It Sounds

Spotted dick
Spotted dick - Clubfoto/Getty Images

Stop snickering. Spotted dick is no joke -- it's a classic British dessert. Traditionally made with suet, flour, and dried fruit, this steamed pudding is tastier than you might think.

Spotted dick is what's known across the pond as a nursery pud: A traditional, stodgy dessert many Brits grew up eating. That said, it's not as common as giggling Americans have been led to believe. In a 2021 survey, nearly half of British millennials didn't even know that spotted dick was a real food.

Why is spotted dick's popularity waning? That unfortunate name may be partly to blame. (If it makes you feel better, call it spotted dog.) It doesn't help that the key ingredients aren't exactly appetizing: Suet, which is the fat found around cows' or muttons' kidneys, and raisins. Mm, mm. But don't let that stop you from trying spotted dick. It's a warm, comforting dessert perfect for the colder months.

Read more: Cake Hacks Every Baker Will Wish They Knew Sooner

How Is Spotted Dick Made?

Spotted dick on a plate
Spotted dick on a plate - Phill Thornton/Getty Images

If a suet-y, steamed dessert seems like it belongs to another century, that's because it does: Spotted dick is at least 169 years old. Alexis Soyer, sometimes called the first British celebrity chef, included it in his 19th-century cookbook, "Cookery for the People." He instructs home cooks to combine flour, beef suet, currants, sugar, cinnamon, eggs, and milk, then boil the whole thing in a pudding cloth or mold.

The traditional spotted dick recipe is still more or less in use today. You might swap suet for a vegetarian replacement, omit eggs and add cream, or use raisins instead of blackcurrants, but the result will be about the same.

The biggest update spotted dick has received since the 1800s is the cooking method. Back in the day, home cooks could put the dough in a pudding cloth or basin, then boil it. Today, you have more options. Many home cooks and chefs use a pan of water to steam their spotted dick in the oven, while Todd from "Todd's Kitchen" on YouTube rolls his up in parchment paper before popping it in an electric steamer.

What Does Spotted Dick Taste Like?

Spotted dick with custard
Spotted dick with custard - Clubfoto/Getty Images

Spotted dick tastes a little different from most desserts Americans are used to -- partly because it's a steamed pudding. That category of dessert is not common in the States, where desserts are more commonly baked, chilled, or frozen. But steamed puds are a staple in Britain: Roly poly, sticky toffee pudding, and Christmas pudding are all steamed, traditionally. That gives them a springy texture with a soft outer layer.

That explains the texture, but what about the flavor? Spotted dick is usually lightly sweet, with prominent notes of cinnamon and dried fruit. Some have compared it to a bran muffin. If you use the traditional suet, there may be a slight meatiness in the background, as well.

You should know that spotted dick is very rarely eaten by itself. According to the Guardian's Felicity Cloake, "this is one of many occasions where custard is non-negotiable." Here, custard refers to crème anglaise, which any Brit can buy at their local Sainsbury's. Americans can melt vanilla ice cream in a pinch.

If you want to try spotted dick for yourself, the easiest way is to make it at home. It takes a couple of hours to cook, but the ingredient list is short and sweet. Technically, you could check your grocery story's British or international section for Heinz spotted dick. If you don't find it, that may be for the best: Spotted dick is one of those foods that should never have been canned.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.