Italian Holiday Pudding

(Above: Watch the video to see how easy this dessert is to make and enjoy the classical Italian music: Non Piú Andrai, an aria from Mozart’s 1786 opera, La Figaro.)


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My grandmother would make this pudding for family dinners, including Christmas Eve, which was always at her apartment in Boston.

Years later, I discovered it is a quick and easy version of an Italian dessert called “Zuppa Inglese,” popular in Northern Italy where my grandmother was born. My brother and I always referred to it as simply, “the pudding with the red stuff.”


Red liquor being poured over biscotti
Italian liqueurs, such as Alkermes, are sometimes available in the U.S. but I’ve found that it’s sporadic. Companies seem to import them some years, and some years, they don’t (at least in the Boston area).


The “red stuff” is an Italian liquor called “Alkermes,” (sometimes spelled, “Alchermes”) which is nearly impossible to find in the U.S. However, you can make this using brandy or dark rum and then adding red food coloring. I’ve also heard that a raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord, would work.


A bowl of vanilla pudding with red biscotti
The liquor turns the biscotti pieces red, making this a colorful dish, especially for Christmas.


I’m making this for Christmas Eve dinner at my house this year and am fortunate to have a bottle of Alkermes that I purchased in Italy this summer. But don’t let a lack of Alkermes stop you from making this.


A small bowl of pudding.
Liquor pairs well with vanilla pudding. Salute!


This recipe couldn’t be any easier. All you do is make vanilla pudding, following the directions on the box. Soak some biscotti pieces in liquor (Alkermes, brandy, or dark rum will work). Pour the pudding over the biscotti, stir gently, and then refrigerate. Take a look at the recipe below.

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Italian Christmas Pudding (aka: Pudding with the Red Stuff)

December 19, 2018
: Easy (super easy)


  • Vanilla Pudding Mix (2 boxes or enough to make 8 servings)
  • Biscotti (Regular almond flavored, broken into 1-inch pieces)
  • Liquor (Alkermes, or brandy, or dark rum)
  • Step 1 Make pudding according to package.
  • Step 2 Soak biscotti in liquor. Add just enough for the cookies to absorb.
  • Step 3 Pour vanilla pudding over the liquor-laden biscotti. Stir and refrigerate (for at least a couple of hours or even overnight).


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