The thing is, come Christmas day, after that whopper of a lunch, with every single trimming possible, most of us are pretty stuffed. Often, the last thing we want is something decadent and heavy
Whatever your plans this Christmas, in between last-minute shopping, wrapping presents and plotting when or if you’ll actually get to see your relatives this year, you told everyone you’d make the Christmas Day dessert but right now, you’re feeling a bit uninspired.
The best kind of festive dessert is something that hits the perfect note between being sweet but light, possibly creamy or fruity but not too stodgy that you feel sick after one bite. They also need to look good, this, after all, is a special occasion. Sorry Christmas pudding, but we just aren’t that into you.
As the only one who bakes in my family, there are some tried and tested favourites including Nigella’s pavlova and Mary Berry’s meringue roulade (the recipe she baked with Kate Middleton and Prince William last year, remember?), both of which you can make a day ahead so you’re getting out the way of the turkey cooking.
On that note, here are some of the best Christmas Day dessert recipes that we guarantee will be a hit…
Rocky road cheesecake pudding
2 x 200g ready-made chocolate loaf or marble loaf cakes
225ml double cream
150g dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tbsp golden syrup
50g white chocolate
edible glitter, chocolate truffles, sprinkles and sparkles, to decorate (optional)
For the cheesecake filling
2 x 280g tubs full-fat cream cheese
200ml double cream
75g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
½ orange, zested
For the rocky road
150g dark chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
75g digestive biscuits
25g pretzel pieces
50g mini marshmallows
- Line a 2 litre pudding bowl with cling film, leaving some overhanging to cover the top later. Thinly slice the cakes lengthways (8-9 slices per cake) and use the slices to line the base and sides of the bowl, making sure there are no gaps.
- Mix the ingredients for the filling with an electric hand whisk until thick and smooth. Fill the lined bowl with it, leaving some space for the rocky road to go on. Set aside.
- Break the chocolate for the rocky road into pieces in a heatproof bowl. Add the butter and golden syrup. Set over a pan of simmering water and leave for a few mins until melted – turn the heat off if the water boils, the residual heat will be enough to melt it. Stir until smooth and glossy.
- Tip the biscuits into a food bag and crush to a rubble with a rolling pin, creating some fine crumbs and some bigger pieces. Tip into the chocolate mix with the pretzel pieces and marshmallows. Mix until everything is coated in chocolate. Spoon it all over the cheesecake, covering the surface. Wrap the bowl in cling film and place a plate on top with a can to weigh it down. Chill for at least 24 hrs, or up to three days.
- Decorate the cheesecake on the day you want to serve it. Heat the cream, chocolate and golden syrup in a pan over a low-medium heat until the chocolate has melted and you have a pourable mixture – don’t let it boil. Unwrap the cheesecake and turn onto a wire rack with a tray underneath. Pour over the chocolate glaze to cover the entire cake. When it stops dripping, use a fish slice to transfer to a plate. Chill until the glaze has set (about 10 mins).
- Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate in shorts bursts in the microwave. Drizzle it over the top of the cake, then decorate as you like. We used edible glitter, gold sprinkles and chocolate truffles.
250 grams caster sugar
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder (not instant coffee granules)
4 large egg whites
1 pinch of salt
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
300 millilitres double cream
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/gas mark 4/350°F. Line a flat oven sheet with baking parchment and, using a 23cm/9inch cake tin, draw a circle on it.
- Mix the sugar with the instant espresso powder in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a clean, grease-free metal bowl whisk the egg whites and salt until they are holding soft peaks. Keep whisking while you add the sugar-coffee mixture a tablespoon at a time.
- When you have a firm, ecru-coloured meringue, fold in the cornflour and vinegar using a grease-free metal spoon.
- Dollop the meringue mixture inside the drawn circle. Smooth and shape it with a spatula so that it looks rather like the crown of a boater: it must be flat on top.
- Put it in the oven and immediately turn down to 150°C/130°C Fan/gas mark 3/300°F and cook for an hour. Switch off the oven and leave inside until cool.
- Once the base is cool, lift it carefully in its paper and place it top-side down on a flat plate and peel off the paper.
- Whip the double cream until thick but soft and spread delicately over the top of the meringue. With a teaspoon, push the cocoa through a fine sieve or tea strainer to decorate the top, cappuccino-style.
Strawberry Meringue Roulade
5 egg whites
275g/10oz caster sugar
20g/2oz flaked almonds
For the filling
150ml/5fl oz double cream
200ml/7fl oz Greek-style yoghurt
225g/8oz strawberries, hulled
icing sugar, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
- Grease a 33cm x 23cm/13in x 10in Swiss roll tin and line with baking paper.
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean, large bowl with an electric mixer on high-speed until very stiff.
- Gradually add the sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time and, keeping the mixer on a high-speed, whisk well between each addition. Whisk until very, very stiff and glossy and all the sugar has been added.
- Spread the meringue mixture into the lined tin and sprinkle with the almonds. Put the tin in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes until golden.
- Lower the temperature to 160C/140C Fan/Gas 3 and bake for a further 15 minutes, until crisp and firm to the touch.
- Remove the meringue from the oven and turn almond-side down onto a sheet of baking paper.
- Remove the paper from the base of the cooked meringue and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Lightly whip the cream and mix with the yoghurt. Spread evenly over the meringue.
- Cut the strawberries into quarters and sprinkle over the cream mixture.
- Roll up the meringue firmly, using the paper to help you, from the long end of the roulade. It is essential you keep the roll very tight. Wrap in baking paper and chill before serving.
- When you are ready to serve, dust with icing sugar and cut into slices.
Epic Chocolate Trifle
2 x 450 g tins of dulce de leche
200 ml amaretto
optional: caramel popcorn , to serve
optional: quality marshmallows , to serve
For the chocolate mousse:
120 g egg yolks (8-10 free-range medium eggs)
100 g caster sugar
480 ml whole milk
240 ml double cream
260 g dark chocolate (70%)
For the chocolate brownie:
250 g dark chocolate (70%)
110 g unsalted butter
4 free-range medium eggs
240 g caster sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
90 g plain flour
125 g amaretti biscuits
For the mascarpone cream:
2 free-range medium eggs
150 g caster sugar
250 g double cream
500 g mascarpone
- For the mousse, whisk the yolks and sugar together until pale, thick and doubled in volume. In a pan on a medium heat, gently heat the milk and cream until steam begins to appear. Remove from the heat and – whisking as you go – very gradually pour in the yolk mixture.
- Pour back into the pan and cook on a low heat for 6–8 minutes, stirring continuously. Using a sugar thermometer, simmer until it reaches 83ºC and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Turn off the heat, snap in the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Place a piece of greaseproof paper on the surface of the mousse to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool. Once cold, pop in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 170ºC/338ºF/gas 3. To make the brownie, snap the chocolate into a heatproof bowl, add the butter, and melt over a pan of gently simmering water until combined. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and salt until fluffy and tripled in volume. Gently fold in the melted chocolate, in batches, followed by the flour. Finally, break up and stir in the amaretti biscuits.
- Pour the brownie mixture into a lined 30cm x 15cm tin and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until crisp on the outside but slightly wobbly. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin, then transfer to a wire
- rack to cool completely.
- For the mascarpone cream, place the eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Whisk continuously for 8–10 minutes, or until the temperature reaches 82ºC, and the mixture is pale, thick and has a ribbon-like consistency when dropped off the whisk. Allow to cool slightly.
- In another bowl, whisk the cream and mascarpone to soft peaks. Fold in the egg mixture, cover and put in the fridge until needed.
- When you’re ready to assemble the trifle, whisk the dulce de leche to loosen and crumble up the brownie. Layer roughly one third of the brownie in the bottom of a 23cm glass bowl or trifle dish. Drizzle over one third of the amaretto and one third of the mascarpone cream. Spoon over a third of the dulce de leche followed by a third of the chocolate mousse, then repeat the layers twice more.
- Finish the trifle with any remaining bits of brownie, and decorate with marshmallows and caramel popcorn, if you like, then serve. Sparkler optional!
100g plain flour
85g unsalted butter
3 eggs, at room temperature
4-5 speculoos biscuits, crumbled
gold sprinkles, to decorate (optional)
For the filling
400ml double cream
250g speculoos biscuit spread
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
grating of nutmeg
For the caramel sauce
130g granulated sugar
20g unsalted butter
6 tbsp double cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp mixed spice
- Sieve the flour and ¼ tsp salt into a bowl. Bring the butter and 225ml water to the boil in a saucepan, then simmer until the butter has melted. Tip in the flour mixture and quickly beat with a wooden spoon until everything comes together into a smooth, shiny dough that pulls away from the side of the pan. Tip the dough into a clean bowl, and spread it up the side with the spoon to help it quickly cool down a bit (you don’t want it to cool completely – it’s easier to incorporate the eggs while it’s still a bit warm). Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Set aside.
- While the dough is still slightly warm, crack in the eggs one at a time, beating well with the wooden spoon between each addition until smooth (you may not need to use all the eggs). When ready, the dough should slowly fall off the spoon in a V-shape – if the mixture is too runny, you won’t be able to pipe it; if it’s too thick, it won’t puff up in the oven. Spoon the dough into a piping bag and snip off the end so it has a 1cm opening.
- Holding the piping bag at a 90-degree angle to the baking tray, pipe walnut-sized balls of dough over the two sheets – you should get 18-20 in total. Dip your finger in a little water and gently pat down any peaks on top of the balls. Bake for 30-35 mins, swapping the trays over after 20 mins. The choux buns should be puffed up and crisp when cooked. Leave to cool completely.
- To make the filling, beat the cream with the biscuit spread and spices in a large bowl using an electric whisk until softly whipped.
- For the caramel sauce, tip the sugar into a saucepan set over a medium heat, add 6 tbsp water and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat slightly and simmer, swirling the pan occasionally until golden (do not stir or the sugar will crystallise). Remove from the heat, add the butter and swirl the pan until the butter has melted and combined with the syrup. Quickly beat in the cream, vanilla, cinnamon, mixed spice and a pinch of sea salt. Leave to cool slightly.
- Cut each cooled choux bun in half through the middle. Spoon the filling into a piping bag, snip off the end and pipe over the bases of the buns. Sandwich these with the tops, then arrange in a roughly 27cm round wreath shape on a large serving plate or board. Drizzle all over with the caramel sauce, then scatter over the crumbled biscuits and gold sprinkles, if using. Best eaten straightaway. Will keep chilled for up to 24 hrs.