When I was a child, we occasionally had plum pudding for Christmas dinner. I think the reason was that my sister liked the idea of plum pudding, with its associations with Dickens and steaming huge puddings being carried into the hall to the joy of the tenantry. Well, in those days, I was the tenantry. It took a long time for me to appreciate how liquor in one form or another could flavor food and add richness to its taste. This did not happen until well after I left home, so as an eight year old, twelve year old or even an eighteen year old, plum pudding fell into the category of "why is this such a big deal?"
But hard sauce, now that was something different. Anyone, especially a person with as big a sweet tooth as I had, could appreciate a sauce that was basically butter mixed with sugar. The base was so good that even a little bit of rum didn't ruin it for me.
So when it came time for me to be served, I asked for a tiny bit of pudding, and then glopped about half a cup of hard sauce on top of it.
Christmas was somewhat fraught, for reasons I won't go into here, but by the time dinner came around, it rescued itself, and we sat with our guests in their paper hats, courtesy of the British Christmas crackers we always get, and relaxed and had a great time. The Christmas pudding I had made before we went to London turned out just fine, and the hard sauce was like icing on a very good cake.
1 cup sweet butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup dark rum, cognac or dry sherry
1/8 teaspoon salt
Cream the butter and confectioners' sugar together very well. Beat in remaining ingredients and chill thoroughly.
Makes about two cups.