Love it or hate it, brandy butter is an integral part of yuletide indulgence. With its clotted cream consistency and heady liquor flavour, it's the cherry on the cake of the Christmas lunch. The lingering last mouthful, which often tips the unsuspecting diner into a post-lunch stupor.
Brandy butter – or "hard sauce" as it's less-romantically called in the States – is a rare ingredient not to feature in the culinary bible that is Larousse Gastronomique. The French seem to wash their hands altogether of this "deconstructed sponge cake", which only makes it as far as creaming together butter and sugar. No wonder brandy butter is a once-a-year kind of condiment.
The consistency of brandy butter ranges from being quite thick and spreadable, to having being a little looser so it can be flicked from a spoon onto a steaming Christmas pudding. Be sure not to confuse it with brandy sauce, which is another thing altogether and has a custard-like texture. Whether it's slipped under the lid of a mince pie or melting down the sides of a figgy pudding, brandy butter is the pearly king of condiments, and an essential addition to the traditional Christmas spread.