I was recently asked to do a dessert for a Christmas Eve dinner.  Keen to 'show off' something uniquely NZish I wracked my brains to think of a dish my American friends wouldn't have tried before.  Pavlovas had been done and I was struggling to find feijoas or passionfruit [yes US spellchecker - I didn't think you'd know those words!!] for a tropical twist.  I decided to go with an oldie but a goodie - one of Mum's specialties from the 70's, which over the years, my sister and I have put our own spin on.  

A quick online search prior to writing this post reveals what I  basically suspected; this is most probably a British dessert that originated as early as the 1950's, but which became wildly popular in the 70's in 'the colonies'!  Now, to fully appreciate this dessert I will need to paint a quick picture in your mind about the environment within which it was likely prepared by our mums.  No doubt, there were purple and brown and orange furnishings in the kitchen (or quite possibly some combination of all of these colours).  Maybe even some giant wooden cutlery on the walls but definitely an arty print or that  Tretchikoff painting.  There may have been tv on - 1 channel only in NZ (or two if you were lucky to live around Auckland) - and most likely the news or the fab British soap, Coronation Street on.  Mum would have been getting ready to go out in her finest maxi dress (doused in Chanel No 5 or Arpege) , bathing us kids, sneaking a ciggie (not yet the antisocial evil this is are now), having a small glass of sweet sherry and sandwiching our chocolate chip bikkies with said sherry and cream to take along to the [wildly progressive!] fondue dinner party of the night ahead...

Okay sorry Mum, I know I am making fun - but seriously, this dessert (or 'pudding' as we would have called it back then) is super easy to make, and with a few modern twists can be updated with your favourite liqueur and fruit for this  millennium.  The classic combinations are chocolate chip cookies with tinned fruit eg plums, rasperries, blackberries but a common and just as delicious variation is to use ginger cookies eg gingernuts with tinned or fresh pineapple... It is best prepared in advance (ie the day before) so as to allow all the ingredients to combine and the booze to saturate the dish!  One other thing I have inherited from Mum is a fondness for sherry - I highly recommend everyone tries the fantastic Pedro Jimenez variety - better than port and fab with chocolate! 

PS Just make sure kids don't get into it the next day in the fridge...pretty alcoholic!! xx
Chocolate, Plum and Sherry Pudding

Plum and Chocolate

1 packet chocolate chip cookies 
Approx 1/2 - 3/4 cup sherry*
tin of plums
small carton of heavy cream
additional fruit to garnish eg strawberries, pomegranate seeds
shaved dark choc (for garnish)

Variation: Ginger and Pineapple

1 packet gingernut cookies
1/2 - 3/4 cup sherry
tin of pineapple pieces
small carton of heavy cream
additional pineapple pieces to garnish 
shaved dark choc (for garnish)

* Can use any liqueur or sweet alcohol you like eg Cointreau, rum, port, or omit for a child friendly version. 
Get a large platter ready.
Whip cream til soft but not too stiff (ie spreading consistency).
Fill a shallow bowl with sherry.
One by one, dip cookies in sherry and then sandwich with cream to next cookie.  [Don't leave in sherry too long or they will become soggy - about 15 seconds is good).  Place plums in middle of cookies about every 3rd or 4th cookie (see pic above) and shape either into a log or a circle.
Cover completed log with more cream and then sprinkle over additional fruit etc to finish.
Serve along with a soundtrack of Bee Gees for that authentic seventies vibe!
My sister's very cool version...
We love you Mum xx