I think there’s still just about enough time to squeeze in one last moment of indulgence before we all embark on the inevitable dessert-purgatory that is January. Even I might try to exercise some self-control (no promises though, okay…)
But until the clock strikes 12 we can enjoy this. Today is also my Mum’s birthday and I’m pretty sure that she would approve of this truly decadent dessert. Golden sponge soaked in a boozy orange syrup smothered in a rich truffle ganache and a very soft, light, mousse and finished off with fresh whipped cream. I’ve decorated mine with some orange meringues simply because I’ve apparently become the sort of person who has that kind of thing hanging around the pantry!
Here I’ve used the orange sponge from my cranberry & orange Victoria sponge, using quantities for one egg. If you do this it’s best to bake it in a smaller tin or as cupcakes, otherwise it’ll be really thin. You can of course use a shop-bought sponge if you want to save yourself a bit of time, it doesn’t necessarily have to be orange flavoured.
enough orange flavoured sponge cake to line the base of your serving dish
juice of 1 orange
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp orange liqueur
Chocolate truffle ganache
75g dark chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
zest of 1 orange
90g milk chocolate
3 eggs (separated)
1 tbsp bandy
pinch of salt
125ml double cream
dark chocolate to decorate (I also used tiny orange flavoured meringues)
Start by making the orange syrup. Combine the orange juice and sugar in a small pan and heat them until the sugar has dissolved and the juice has reduced a bit. Remove the pan from the heat and add the orange liqueur. Leave this to cool a little.
Cut the sponge into cubes and use them to line the base of your serving dish. Spoon the orange syrup over the sponge making sure that each piece of sponge soaks up some of the liquid. Let this sit at room temperature whilst you make the chocolate ganache.
Put all the ingredients for the sauce into a small pan and gently melt them together over a very low heat. Stir the mixture constantly to ensure that the chocolate doesn’t burn or seize. Once it has melted and combined pour the warm ganache over the sponge layer. Now put the dish in the fridge to chill out for a little while, just whilst you make the mousse layer.
Break up the milk chocolate and put it in a bowl, set over a pan of gently simmering water. Melt the chocolate, stirring it occasionally and then remove it from the heat. Quickly stir in the brandy. This might cause the chocolate to thicken a little but don’t panic as long as it isn’t grainy. Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate, one at a time, whilst it’s still warm and then leave the mixture to cool.
Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl along with the salt, until they hold a stiff peak. Beat one tablespoon of the egg whites into the chocolate to lighten the mixture. Follow this by very carefully, using a large metal spoon, folding in the remaining egg whites, a couple of spoons at a time until it is all incorporated and you have a light airy mousse.
Pour this on top of the cooled chocolate ganache layer and then return the dish to the fridge and forget about for a couple of hours so that the mousse can set more firmly.
Finally whip the cream so that it holds soft peaks and then spread it all over the top of the trifle. Finish off with a little chocolate (or meringue) decoration and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it.
Put the fruit at the bottom of your Christmas stocking to good use this year and make one of these.
I love this drink, it looks all sorts of fancy but it’s actually pretty easy to make once you’ve got the syrup. It’s not as tart as a ‘sour’ because the clementine juice is nice and sweet and the spices make it wonderfully fragrant. I also like to think that the foamy egg white layer on the top makes it look extra festive and snowy.
This makes enough for two drinks but you can easily increase the quantities. To make the simple syrup lightly crush 3 cloves and 1/2 tsp pink peppercorns before combining with equal amounts of soft brown sugar and water (about 3 tbsp of each) in a small pan and heating gently for a few minutes. Leave to cool before straining and using.
2-3 strips of clementine/satsuma zest
25ml clove and pink peppercorn brown sugar simple syrup
Juice of 2 clementines/satsumas (50ml approx)
25ml triple sec
1 egg white
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 1 minute. Strain into coupe or martini glasses and let the foam settle on the surface before garnishing with pink peppercorns.
I don’t really like Christmas pudding. There. I said it. It’s too rich, too heavy and quite sickly, especially to eat on what is, lets face it, the most gluttonous day of the year.
I’m always looking for an alternative that still feels just as festive. At home my mums Christmas pudding ice cream does the job. This year I can’t make it back to the UK to see my friends and family and I fear that my own iced Christmas puds might just leave me homesick and hankering for my mums version.
I’ve come up with something that’s just different enough to feel like a change. These are indulgent without feeling too rich and heavy. They might just be the perfect end to your festive feast.
These also have the added bonus that, aside from setting time, they’re really quick to make and can be made well ahead of time. Cause lets face it, who has time to spare at Christmas? Make sure that you use a fat-free mincemeat for these (i.e. one made without suet). Oh look, there’s a recipe for that here: https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/fat-free-mincemeat/ what luck!
makes 4 (8-10 dinky ones for parties)
250ml double cream
250ml whole milk
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp brandy
1 tsp vanilla
3 leaves of gelatine
2 tbsp mincemeat plus 1 tsp for each glass
Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water and set it aside to soak.
Combine everything else except the mincemeat in a medium pan and set it over a low heat. Allow it to become quite hot whilst stirring it but don’t let it boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
Squeeze the excess water from the softened gelatine and add the leaves to the pan. Stir until they have dissolved.
Put a teaspoon of mincemeat in the bottom of each of your serving glasses or moulds. Add two tablespoons of mincemeat to the cream mixture and stir them in. Divide the mixture between the glasses and then pop them in the fridge to set.
Before serving either sprinkle the tops with a tiny bit of cinnamon if you are serving the panna cotta in glasses or tip them out of the moulds and onto dessert plates.
It might be because I was raised in the West country but I’d take one of these over a bucks fizz on Christmas morning every time. This is made from apple and spice and all things nice. And by ‘all things nice’ I mean rum.
For the simple syrup (there’s enough here for two drinks but you can easily increase the quantities) lightly muddle 3 sprigs of rosemary with 3 tbsp sugar in a small pan. Snap a cinnamon stick in two and add this to the pan along with 3 tbsp of water. Heat gently and allow to bubble for a few minutes. Leave to cool before using.
30ml cinnamon and rosemary simple syrup
50ml spiced rum
dry cider, apple slices and rosemary sprigs to serve
Shake the rum and syrup along with the rosemary and cinnamon from making the syrup in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Strain it into glasses filled with ice and top up with cider. Garnish with an apple slice and a fresh sprig of rosemary.
I realise that flicking through the pages of this blog, it might seem that I’m all about the sweet treats. It’s a fair enough assumption, just look at how big the word ‘dessert’ is in that tag cloud on the right. (Mind you, the word booze is pretty big too…) But to be honest I love a savoury treat just as much. Especially if it’s cheesy.
When I’m at home for Christmas we’ll always go for a walk on Christmas day, even if the weather isn’t great, it helps to burn off some of the festive calories. We’ll usually come back from our walk and replenish some of those calories (it’s Christmas, okay!) with a yummy festive snack and I think these would be a really good contender. I don’t know why Stilton seems like a Christmas cheese but it really is. When else would you even consider buying your cheese in a fancy earthenware pot…?
My mum makes amazing cheese scones. They are so good toasted and buttered as an afternoon treat. This is my festive homage to those wonderous baked goodies.
makes about 12 but more or less depending on the size of your cutter.
225g self-raising flour
a pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 tsp mustard powder (optional)
85g blue Stilton
100g (ish) dried cranberries
splash of milk
Pre-heat your oven to 220°c and pop a large baking tray in the oven to heat up.
Sift the flour, mustard powder, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl so that they are well combined and aerated.
Dice the butter and then lightly rub it into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Crumble the Stilton and add most of it the mixing bowl, keep a little back to sprinkle on top of the scones before baking. Toss in the cranberries and mix it all together.
Lightly beat the egg and use it to bring everything together to form a soft dough. If you need to use a little milk as well then that’s fine.
Pat the dough out on a lightly floured surface, so that it’s about 1″ thick. Use a round cutter to stamp out the scones but be sure not to twist it. Place them on the hot tray (be careful) and brush the tops with a little milk before sprinkling on any Stilton that you kept back. Bake them for 10-15 mins until they have risen and are golden, and then let them cool a little on a wire rack. Serve warm or toasted and spread thickly with butter.
The time has come for Mr Colonial Cravings annual office festive hoopla. I’m not sure they refer to it like this but I think that maybe they should start.
To say thank you for the hours of photographing food that he puts in (my hands are just too shaky to take a decent picture) I’ve made him something extra special.
I’ve combined his favourite Italian treat with something festive from their Austrian neighbours. Gingerbread! And it is so good! If you like gingerbread lattes then you’re going to love this. Seriously, this tastes amazing. Layers of richly spiced sponge soaked in boozy coffee, sandwiched together with thick zabaglione cream. Christmas dessert heaven…
You can bake the sponge ahead of time because it keeps really well, and also if it is a tiny bit stale then it tends to soak up the coffee better. Winning all round!
If you don’t have a spring-form cake tin, of just don’t want to serve the tiramisu like this, then you can of course just build up the layers in a serving dish, trifle-style. Either works well for this.
Half the quantity of gingerbread from my gingerbread latte cupcakes, baked in a spring-form pan for about 35 minutes at 180°c.
300ml strong brewed coffee
3 tbsp sugar
50ml brandy/dark rum (feel free to use more if you like it really boozy)
1 tbsp coffee liqueur (optional)
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla paste
225g mascarpone (room temperature)
200ml double cream
dark chocolate to serve
Trim away the very top of the cake, to expose the crumb and slice the sponge in half horizontally. Set aside.
Mix one tablespoon of the sugar with the coffee, brandy/rum and coffee liqueur (if using) and let the coffee cool a bit.
Place the remaining sugar in a mixing bowl with the egg yolks and vanilla and place it over a pan of simmering water. Whip the yolks until they are pale and fluffy and have at least doubled in volume. Remove them from the heat and let it cool for a minute or two before beating the mascarpone into it.
Put the cream in another bowl and whip it until it becomes thick and fluffy. Use a large metal spoon to fold the cream into the egg yolk/mascarpone mixture.
To assemble the tiramisu place a layer of the sponge back into the springform pan that you baked it in. Brush the surface of it with the coffee mixture. You need it to be saturated but not so soggy that it loses all integrity.
Spread half of the creamy filling mixture evenly over the sponge and then carefully place the second layer on top. Brush this with coffee too, again making sure that it is well moistened but not drenched. Don’t worry, you won’t need all of the coffee mixture. Cover this with the remaining cream mixture and smooth off the surface. Put the tiramisu in the fridge to firm up for a couple of hours.
Dust the top of the tiramisu with some grated dark chocolate (I like to be fairly liberal with it) and run a palate knife around the edge of the tin before releasing the catch and removing the sides of the tin. Carefully transfer the tiramisu to a serving plate. Enjoy!