’Tis the season to be jolly, however whereas many people would love to take a seat again and bask within the heat glow of Christmas, most of us know that it takes lots of work to get there in a single piece as we navigate the workplace events, household gatherings and lengthy procuring lists. So I’ve pulled collectively a celebratory assortment of festive puddings that shouldn’t tie you up in knots and that can, hopefully, have one thing for everybody, be tray of calmly spiced roast pears in port (good for utilizing up final 12 months’s bottle), delicately scented and flour-free baked cheesecakes, a decadently moist chestnut and chocolate cake or a lighter, creamier tackle the minced pie.
Chestnut and chocolate cake with chestnut cream
This wealthy, flourless chocolate cake is a scrumptious tea cake however, with its wealthy chestnut cream, it’s so mild and mousse-like that it doubles up as a superb after-dinner pudding. Serves 10-12.
250g darkish chocolate
250g unsalted butter
180g caster sugar
3 tbsp mezcal (or a peaty whisky, or brandy)
200g chestnut puree
4 eggs, separated
1 small pinch floor cinnamon
¼ tsp fantastic sea salt
For the chestnut cream
200g chestnut puree
2 tbsp mezcal (or peaty whisky)
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g icing sugar
220ml double cream
30g darkish chocolate
Heat the oven to 170C/325F/gasoline mark 3. Butter a 25cm cake tin and line it with baking paper.
Break the chocolate into items and put in a heatproof bowl with the butter. Position the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, and stir till the chocolate has melted. Add the sugar and mezcal, stir once more till the sugar crystals have melted and the combination is clean, then go away to chill barely.
In a bowl, beat the chestnut puree with a hand blender till very clean, then beat within the egg yolks 2 at a time, to make a clean cream. Fold in half of the melted chocolate combine, then add the remainder. Season with the cinnamon and salt.
In a clear bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then use a big steel spoon to fold a 3rd of them into the chocolate combination, to loosen. Once nicely mixed, gently fold in the remainder of the egg whites, then scrape the combination into the tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, till simply set.
While the cake is baking, make the chestnut cream. Beat collectively the chestnut puree, mezcal, vanilla and sugar. Gently whip the cream to tender peaks and fold into the chestnut puree combine.
To serve, minimize the cooled cake into slices and serve with dollops of cream and darkish chocolate grated on high.
Super-dark ginger whisky cake with clementine cream cheese icing
Perish the considered not having a cake within the cabinet presently of 12 months, however generally a Christmas cake can appear a bit OTT, what with all of the mince pies and every thing else as nicely. This mild and devilishly gingery whisky cake is the proper compromise, with or with out the icing. It will maintain for 4 to 5 days in an hermetic container.
65g black treacle
65g golden syrup
120g unsalted butter
120g tender brown sugar
2 tbsp good high quality whisky
180g self-raising flour
2 tsp floor ginger
1 egg, crushed
For the icing
75g very tender butter
200g full fats cream cheese
100g icing sugar
Zest and juice of 1 clementine
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gasoline mark 4 and line a the bottom and sides of a 900g loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
In a small pan, soften the treacle, golden syrup, butter, sugar and whisky over a low warmth, stirring gently, then take off the warmth as soon as the sugar dissolves. Transfer to a bowl, and sift the flour, ginger and a pinch of salt on high. Gently fold to mix, then stir in first the crushed egg adopted by the milk. Pour into the tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, till a skewer comes out clear, then go away to chill within the tin for 10 minutes earlier than transferring to a wire rack.
While the cake is baking, beat the tender butter in a big mixing bowl till mild, pale and pillowy-soft (to avoid wasting on the elbow grease, I take advantage of an electrical beater). Mix within the cream cheese till completely mixed, then sift within the icing sugar and fold by means of. Fold within the citrus zest and juices, unfold the icing over the cooled cake and serve.
Port, black pepper and cardamom roast pears
This is a superb dinner-party pudding: it’s extremely easy to make and superbly aromatic. I discover roast pears a lot much less fiddly than poaching. Serves eight to 10.
Peel of ½ lemon, plus the juice of 1 lemon
8 not-quite-ripe pears
150g tender mild brown sugar
8 cardamom pods, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black pepper, gently crushed
Vanilla ice-cream and 100g hazelnuts, to serve
Half-fill a mixing bowl with chilly water and add half of the lemon juice. One at a time, peel the pears, minimize them in half of lengthways, and scoop out and discard the cores. Drop every pear into the acidulated water as you go, to cease them turning brown. You can do that bit a day prematurely.
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gasoline mark 6. Put the port, sugar, lemon zest, cardamom, bay and pepper into a big pan and produce to a boil. Lift the pears out of their lemony bathtub and lay them out minimize facet down in a baking dish into which they’ll sit snugly in a single layer. Pour over the port combination and the juice of the remaining half-lemon, then bake for 35-45 minutes, till simply tender, turning them as soon as midway: the timing will rely on how ripe your pears are to start with, so verify them each 15 minutes, and baste whenever you verify.
Toast the hazelnuts in the identical oven for about 5 minutes, till golden, then roughly chop.
Serve the recent pears and their syrupy juices sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts and with scoops of vanilla ice-cream on the facet.
Baked San Juan cheesecakes with medjool apple jam
There is a darkish, mahogany-panelled espresso store exterior the famously foodie San Juan market in Mexico City that sells essentially the most decadently scrumptious particular person cheesecakes, baked and creamy and crammed with blackberry jam. This is my flourless tackle these truffles, utilizing a gently aromatic medjool apple jam, although there’s nothing to cease you utilizing any kind of jam you fancy.
50g unsalted butter
250g cream cheese
100g double cream
½ tsp fantastic sea salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
The juice of 1 lemon
5 eggs, separated
70g corn starch
110g caster sugar
For the jam
2 apples, peeled and cored (about 220g web weight)
500g medjool dates, pitted
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1 cinnamon stick
250ml apple juice
Heat the oven to 170C/335F/gasoline mark 3. Line 2 muffin trays with 24 massive muffin paper instances (the most important dimension you should buy; or make your personal utilizing 18cm sq. sheets of baking paper, although that’s admittedly a barely fiddly job).
Put all of the jam components in a medium saucepan and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, till the apples are tender, then blitz with a stick blender and push by means of a sieve to get a beautiful, clean puree. Refrigerate till wanted (if you need, make greater than you want for the truffles, as a result of the puree is beautiful on morning yoghurt).
To make the cheesecakes, soften the butter over a really light warmth and whisk within the ricotta, cream cheese and cream. Season with half of the salt, then stir within the vanilla essence and the juice of half of the lemon. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then whisk within the corn flour. Pour within the cheese and cream combination, and whisk to a clean, creamy batter.
In a clear bowl, beat the egg whites, salt and remaining lemon juice to tender peaks, then add the caster sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Use a big steel spoon to fold a 3rd of this combination into the cheese combine, to loosen, then gently fold in the remainder of the egg white combine. Add sufficient of the cheesecake combine to fill every muffin case by a 3rd, then high with a small teaspoon of the jam. Add extra of the cheesecake combine till it fills the instances sufficient to go away 2.5cm of paper on the high, to permit for the cheesecakes to rise.
Pour sufficient boiling water into 2 roasting tins to fill them by 5cm, then rigorously place 1 muffin tray into every water bathtub. Bake for 25-30 minutes, till the cheesecakes are golden and risen, then flip off the oven and go away the door barely ajar, till the cheesecakes cool. They will shrink again somewhat.
Once cool, refrigerate for at the least 4 hours, or in a single day. If you like, you possibly can bake 1 massive cheesecake topped with a skinny unfold of jam, during which case cook dinner it in a greased and lined spring-form tin and improve the cooking time by 15-20 minutes.
Orange and sauternes custard tarts with boozy raisins
Not everybody loves a mince pie – exhausting to think about, I do know, however true. Well, these little tarts have all the beautiful booziness of plump, soaked raisins, however as an alternative of a heavy mincemeat, they’re enveloped in a light-weight custard and crisp pastry. They are decidedly moreish. Makes 12.
75g icing sugar
380g plain flour
1 pinch salt
1 egg, crushed
For the custard
400ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, break up in half of
Zest of 1 orange, plus the juice of ½ orange
4 egg yolks
55g caster sugar
1 tbsp corn flour
3 tbsp sauternes, muscat or different pudding wine
For the raisins
3 tbsp sauternes
1 star anise
Juice of 1 orange
Put the icing sugar, flour, salt and butter in a meals processor and blitz to the consistency of fantastic breadcrumbs. Add the egg and a teaspoon of chilly water, and blitz just a few occasions extra: the dough ought to simply come collectively (if it doesn’t, add one other teaspoon of water and course of once more). Roll the dough right into a ball, flatten it out somewhat, then wrap in clingfilm and put within the freezer for half of an hour.
Meanwhile, make the custard. Put the cream in a saucepan and add the vanilla pod, orange juice and zest. Bring as much as boiling level, then flip off the warmth directly and scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod into the cream (don’t throw out the pod: wash and dry it, then maintain it in a jar of sugar for some do-it-yourself vanilla sugar). Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, corn flour and pudding wine in a bowl, then pour in a ladle of the recent cream and whisk nicely. Beat in the remainder of the recent cream, return the lot to the cream pan and placed on a low warmth. Stir commonly, till the custard thickens sufficient to coat the again of a wood spoon; watch out to not let it boil, in any other case the eggs will curdle. Once the custard has thickened, go away to chill fully.
Take the pastry out of the freezer, break off a 3rd, wrap this in clingfilm and put within the fridge. On a calmly floured floor, roll out the remaining bigger piece of pastry to 6-8mm thick, then use a spherical 7-8cm-diameter cookie cutter to chop out discs. Place these in a 12-hole muffin tin, gently urgent down the pastry discs into the holes, then pop the tray into the freezer for 15 minutes, to agency up. Take the smaller piece of pastry out of the fridge, roll that out to 6-8mm thick, too, then use the identical cookie cutter to chop out 12 lids. Place these on a plate and put again within the fridge. Meanwhile, warmth the oven to 170C/335F/gasoline mark 3.
Put the sauternes, 2 tablespoons of water, the star anise and the orange juice in a small pan, deliver to a boil, then flip off the warmth, add the raisins and go away them for 10 minutes, to soak and plump up.
Now you’re able to bake. Scoop the raisins into the tarts with a fork (that approach, you gained’t threat including an excessive amount of soaking liquid to the filling). Spoon about 2 tablespoons of custard over every (you’ll have somewhat custard left over, however that’s no nice hardship), then gently sit the lids on high and crimp collectively the sides. Bake for 20-25 minutes, till golden, then go away to chill fully earlier than serving. These are scrumptious with double cream and can maintain in a sealed container for 3 to 4 days.
- Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay.
Thomasina Miers from theguardian.com