Recipe: The Best Christmas Desserts

Recipe: The Best Christmas Desserts
Rachael O Brien
Rachael O Brien

18 Dec 2017

So you've got the starters sorted, the turkey's been bought but now you have to make a dessert. 

Well there's plenty of options - from treats for the traditional folk to chocolate desserts for the one with a super sweet tooth. 

Trifle

Ingredients

Serves 10

  • 750g frozen summer fruit (raspberries, blackberries, red and blackcurrants)
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 9 sheets leaf gelatine
  • 75g custard powder
  • 1.2l 
  • 1½-2 madeira cake, cubed
  • 4 tbsp sherry or cassis
  • 300-450ml double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2 crushed amaretti biscuits, to serve

Method

  1. Put the fruit in a pan with 200g sugar and 1 litre water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 2 mins, then scoop out 6 tbsp fruit and 150ml juice. Now carry on cooking the fruit in the pan for 5 mins.

  2. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine in cold water to soften it. If you have a hand blender, blitz the cooked fruit or mash with a potato masher, then strain through a sieve into a large bowl and push through the pulp so just the skins and seeds are left. Squeeze excess water from the gelatine, add to the hot fruit syrup and stir to dissolve. Cool, then chill until on the point of almost setting.

  3. Make the custard according to pack instructions with the custard powder, milk and 50g sugar to create a really thick custard. Cover the surface with baking paper while it cools a little.

  4. Pile the cake into a trifle bowl, spoon over the reserved juice and berries, then the Sherry. Pour over a thick layer of custard, pushing it against the side of the dish to seal in the cake below. Leave to cool and set with a skin – this makes a barrier for the jelly.

  5. When the custard is cold and set, and the jelly is on the point of setting, spoon the jelly over the custard and chill until ready to complete.

  6. Whip the cream with the vanilla and icing sugar until just holding its shape, then spoon round the bowl over the set jelly. Scatter with the crushed biscuits and chill until ready to serve.

Christmas Pudding 

Ingredients 

Serves 16

For the pudding

  • 50g blanched almond
  • 2 large Bramley cooking apples
  • 200g box candied peel (in large pieces) or all citron if you can find it
  • 1 whole nutmeg (you'll use three quarters of it)
  • 1kg raisins
  • 140g plain flour
  • 100g soft fresh white breadcrumb
  • 100g light muscovado sugar, crumbled if it looks lumpy
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp brandy or cognac, plus extra to flame
  • 250g packet butter taken straight from the fridge

For the brandy and ginger butter

  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • grated zest of half an orange
  • 5 tbsp icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp brandy or cognac
  • 2 pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped

Method

  1. Get everything prepared. Chop the almonds coarsely. Peel, core and chop the apples. Sharpen your knife and chop the candied peel. (You can chop the almonds and apples in a food processor, but the peel must be done by hand.) Grate three quarters of the nutmeg (sounds a lot but it's correct). Mix all the ingredients for the pudding, except the butter, in a large bowl.

  2. Holding the butter in its wrapper, grate a quarter of it into the bowl, then stir everything together.Repeat until all the butter is grated, then stir for 3-4 minutes - the mixture is ready when it subsides slightly after each stir. Ask the family to stir too, and get everyone to make a wish.

  3. Generously butter two 1.2 litre/ 2 pint bowls and put a disc of greaseproof paper in the bottom of each. Pack in the pudding mixture. Cover with a double layer of greaseproof paper or baking parchment, pleating it to allow for expansion, then tie with string (keep the paper in place with a rubber band while tying). Trim off any excess paper.

  4. Now stand each bowl on a large sheet of foil and bring the edges up over the top, then put another sheet of foil over the top and bring it down underneath to make a double package (this makes the puddings watertight). Tie with more string, and make a handle for easy lifting in and out of the pan. Watch our video to see how to tie up a pudding correctly.

  5. Boil or oven steam the puddings for 8 hours, topping up with water as necessary. Remove from the pans and leave to cool overnight. When cold, discard the messy wrappings and re-wrap in spanking new greaseproof or baking parchment, foil and string. Store in a cool, dry place until Christmas.

  6. To make the brandy butter, cream the butter with the orange zest and sugar. Gradually beat in the brandy or cognac and chopped ginger. Put in a small bowl, fork the top attractively and put in the fridge to set. The butter will keep for a week in the fridge, or it can be frozen for up to 6 weeks.

  7. On Christmas Day, boil or oven steam for 1 hour. Unwrap and turn out. To flame, warm 3-4 tbsp brandy in a small pan, pour it over the pudding and set light to it.

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Ingredients 

Serves 8

  • 275g Butter
  • 150ml Golden Syrup
  • 225g Dark chocolate (good quality, at least 60% cocoa)
  • 200g Digestive Biscuits, roughly crushed
  • 200g Rich Tea Biscuits, roughly crushed
  • 50g Malteesers
  • 75g Cherries (optional)

For the glaze

  • 100g Dark chocolate
  • 30gButter
  • 50g Icing sugar, sifted
  • 75ml of Double cream

Method

  1. Line a 15 cm round cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Melt the butter, syrup and chocolate in a pan over a low heat.
  3. Stir to make sure all the ingredients are well mixed together.Add the biscuits, malteesers and cherries, stir well.
  4. Transfer to the prepared tin.
  5. Level it on top and press down well to avoid air gaps.
  6. Cover and leave in the fridge until solid and set.
  7. Melt the chocolate and butter in a small pot, when melted, remove from the heat, whisk in the icing sugar and the cream.
  8. Allow to cool until the mixture becomes thick enough to leave a figure of eight on the surface. Pour over the cake leave to set before cutting.

Chocolate Yule Log

Ingredients 

Serves 8

For the cake

  • 3 eggs
  • 85g golden caster sugar
  • 85g plain flour (less 2 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder

For the filling & icing

  • 50g butter
  • 140g dark chocolate, broken into squares
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 284ml pot double cream
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 extra-strong mint, crushed (optional)
  • icing sugar and holly sprigs to decorate - ensure you remove the berries before serving

Method

  1. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Grease and line a 23 x 32cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment. Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk for about 8 mins until thick and creamy.

  2. Mix the flour, cocoa and baking powder together, then sift onto the egg mixture. Fold in very carefully, then pour into the tin. Now tip the tin from side to side to spread the mixture into the corners. Bake for 10 mins.

  3. Lay a sheet of baking parchment on the work surface. When the cake is ready, tip it onto the parchment, peel off the lining paper, then roll the cake up from its longest edge with the paper inside. Leave to cool.

  4. To make the icing, melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Take from the heat and stir in the syrup and 5 tbsp cream. Beat in the icing sugar until smooth. Whisk the remaining cream until it holds its shape. Unravel the cake, spread the cream over the top, scatter over the crushed mints, if using, then carefully roll up again into a log.

  5. Cut a thick diagonal slice from one end of the log. Lift the log on to a plate, then arrange the slice on the side with the diagonal cut against the cake to make a branch.

  6. Spread the icing over the log and branch (don’t cover the ends), then use a fork to mark the icing to give the effect of tree bark. Scatter with unsifted icing sugar to resemble snow, and decorate with holly.

Mince Pies

Ingredients 

Serves 16

  • 1 large jar mincemeat (about 600g)
  • 2 satsumas, segmented
  • 1 apple, finely chopped
  • zest 1 lemon
  • little icing sugar, for dusting

For the pastry

  • 375g plain flour
  • 260g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 beaten egg for glazing

Method

  1. Place the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together to a crumb consistency. Add the sugar and the egg, and mix together. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and fold until the pastry comes together, be careful not to over mix. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 10 mins.

  2. Scoop the mincemeat into a bowl and add the satsumas, apple and zest.

  3. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Roll out the pastry to 3mm thick. Using a round cutter (about 10cm), cut out 16 bases and place them into muffin trays. Put 11⁄2 tbsp mincemeat mixture into each. Brush the edge of each pie with a little beaten egg. Re-roll out the pastry to cut 7cm lids and press them on top to seal. Glaze with the rest of the egg, sprinkle with caster sugar, then make a small cut in the tops.

  4. Bake mince pies for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Leave to cool before releasing them from the muffin trays and dusting with icing sugar. Serve.