This is the last installment of my Favourite Christmas Things series and I have had fun sharing all of my holiday indulgences with you. Maybe next year I will turn it into a food blogging event and find out what all of YOUR favourite Christmas recipes are, who knows?
When it comes to Christmas desserts I have never been one for the traditional heavy Christmas cake or puddings. It may have something to do with the warmer climate around here, although a lot of people in Australia do enjoy the traditional Christmas desserts, but lighter, cooler desserts are always welcome on my plate at this time of year. Of course, another favourite is Pavlova, serve it with whipped cream, red berries and sliced starfruit for a particularly festive look!
Berries in Champagne Jelly (Serves 8)
This grown-ups version of a children's favourite takes advantage of Summer berries at the height of their season. The recipe and photo are taken from Cool Food, Murdoch Books, 2002.
Pour 500ml Champagne (or Sparkling white wine) into a bowl and let the bubbles subside. Sprinkle 1 1/2Tbsp powdered gelatine over the Champagne in an even layer and leave, without stirring, until the gelatine is spongy. Place another 500ml Champagne in a large saucepan with 1C sugar, 4 strips lemon zest & 4 strips orange zest, and heat gently, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the gelatine mixture and stir until dissolved. Leave to cool completely, then remove the lemon and orange zest. Divide 250g small strawberries, hulled and halved & 255g blueberries among eight 125ml stemmed wine glasses and gently pour the jelly over the top. Refigerate for 6 hours or overnight, or until the jelly has fully set. Remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.
Crunchy Maltesers Ice-cream Terrine (Serves 6)
This is a great cold dessert for hot Summer days, it also has a lot of 'wow' factor for very little effort (just some mixing and refreezing really). Maltesers are balls of malt covered in chocolate, you could use any similar type of chocolate or confectionery. The recipe and photo are taken from the December 2006 issue of Australian Good Taste Magazine.
Line a 750ml capacity metal terrine dish with plastic wrap. Transfer 1/2L good quality vanilla ice-cream to a bowl and stir with a metal spoon until soft and creamy. Add 90g crushed maltesers and mix until well combined. Transfer the mixture to the terrine dish and freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C and spread 100g hazelnuts over a baking dish. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until roasted. Place in a clean tea towel and rub to remove skins. Coarsely chop.
Transfer 1/2L good quality chocolate ice-cream to a bowl and stir with a metal spoon until soft and creamy. Stir in the hazelnuts and spread over the vanilla ice cream in the terrine dish. Freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.
Repeat with another 1/2L good quality vanilla ice-cream & 90g crushed maltesers and freeze for 2-3 hours or until completely firm. To serve, turn terrine out onto serving platter and top with another 90g crushed maltesers.
Christmas Cupcakes (Makes 12)
These cute little cupcakes look so festive!... and they taste delicious too. They are probably about as close to Christmas cake or pudding that I get - but there isn't any fruit in them. The gingerbread/chocolate creativity (and photo) is attributed to Nigella Lawson from How to be a Domestic Goddess, Chatto & Windus, 2003.
Preheat your oven to 200C, line 12 muffin tins with papers. In a large bowl, mix together 150g plain flour, 1tsp baking powder, 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1tsp ground mixed spice & a pinch of salt. In another bowl, cream 100g soft unsalted butter & 160g dark brown sugar with an electric mixer. Add 2 large eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and then beat in a third of the flour mixture, followed by 1Tbsp sour cream, repeating until all the flour is used up and you have used a total of 3Tbsp sour cream.
Put 125ml boiling water, 75g dark chocolate, broken into pieces & 1tsp instant coffee in a pan and heat gently, just until the chocolate has melted. Fold this into the cake batter, being careful not to overbeat. The mixture will be very thin, but don't worry about that: just pour carefully into the waiting muffin cases and put in the oven for 20 minutes. The cakes should be dense and damp. Allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then slip out the cakes in their papers and sit on a wire rack until completely cold.
Ice using 250g instant royal icing made up according to packet directions, covering tops thickly. Cut holly leaves out of 1 packet green ready to roll icing and use to decorate tops of cupcakes, along with 30 cranberries or small, round, red lollies.