Fascinating Food - Christmas - Festive Desserts

Fascinating Food – Cooking the Perfect Christmas Dinner – Festive Desserts

After a huge Christmas dinner, accompanied by lots of alcohol everyone always makes space for dessert. Desserts are a perfect way to finish the meal.

There are so many traditional desserts for Christmas that you could choose from, but some of the most popular ones are:

· Mince Pies

· Brandy Butter

· Christmas Log Cake

· Christmas Cake

There are undoubtedly many other dishes too, but these are some of the most popular ones. They are all makeable at home; and I am going to explore how to make some of them in this article.

Mince Pies

You could always go to the supermarket and get these frozen. But where would the fun be in that? Supermarket mince pies are notoriously mixed in flavours. They are made in such huge batches, that often the ingredients and not mixed thoroughly enough to give a balanced flavour across all the pies. My simple solution is to make them at home; and you will come away with a magical after meal delight!

*This recipe makes 20 mince pies

Ingredients for the filling:
50g Sultanas, peeled
50g Raisins, peeled
50g currants, peeled
50g dried figs, chopped
50g glace cherries, chopped
200g muscovado sugar
½ teaspoon mixed spice
3 tablespoon whisky
2 tablespoon suet or cold grated butter
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 small unpeeled cooking apple, grated

For the pastry:
340g plain flour
225g cold butter
85g Ground almonds
100g golden caster sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp orange blossom water
Beaten egg or milk to glaze
Icing sugar to dust

1) Start by mixing all the filling ingredients together in a bowl and taste. Make sure it is properly mixed together. If you need add more spice or more whiskey to taste. You can store this filling in a jar for many months, or use it fresh to make mince pies.

2) Sieve the Flour into a bowl with a little salt. Grate in the butter and rub together till is gets knobbly.

3) Add in the almonds and sugar and stir.

4) Mix the egg yolks and the blossom water, and 1 ½ tablespoons of freezing water. Add enough of this mixture to bring it together into a firm dough. (Not wet though).

5) Shape into a ball and leave to chill for 30minutes under cling film.

6) Pre heat the oven to 190c, grease your tartlet tins with butter, and put half the pastry across the bottoms of the surfaces, until around 3mm thick.

7) Cut around the bases to line the tartlet tins.

8) Fill each around ¾ full of the mincemeat.

9) Add the rest of the pastry on top.

10) Brush the tops with beaten egg, or water, and use a folk to prick the tops.

11) Bake for 20minutes.

12) Leave to settle before dusting with icing sugar.

Brandy Butter

Brandy butter is the perfect side for Christmas Desserts. It goes well with everything from mince pies to Christmas pudding. There are so many different substitutions and additions you can add to this recipe, so feel free to change things around at will! The most important thing to remember is not to add the ingredients too quickly. Slowly add them together bit by bit, whilst stirring continuously.

Ingredients:
225g unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature
*55g icing or caster sugar
55g soft light brown sugar
3 tablespoons brandy
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 tablespoons clotted cream
Zest of ½ orange, to serve

* The Icing Sugar will give a more grainy Brandy Butter; the Castor sugar a more Fudge like.

1) Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. You can use a beater or a wooden spoon.

2) Gradually add the sugars using a spoon to beat it into the mix.

3) Slowly add the brandy and lemon juice, and continue to beat the mixture as you do so.

4) Add the clotted cream and continue to beat in.

5) Grate nutmeg over the top to taste, and refrigerate.

6) Sprinkle over the Orange Zest before serving.

font-\ l:so-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin'>5) Shape into a ball and leave to chill for 30minutes under cling film.


6) Pre heat the oven to 190c, grease your tartlet tins with butter, and put half the pastry across the bottoms of the surfaces, until around 3mm thick.

7) Cut around the bases to line the tartlet tins.

8) Fill each around ¾ full of the mincemeat.

9) Add the rest of the pastry on top.

10) Brush the tops with beaten egg, or water, and use a folk to prick the tops.

11) Bake for 20minutes.

12) Leave to settle before dusting with icing sugar.

Christmas Log Cake (Yule Log cake)

This is a great alternative to the Christmas cake that is an instant favourite with everyone.

Ingredients:
30g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, separated
¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar
110g caster sugar
2 drops almond essence

For the butter cream filling:
100g butter
150g icing sugar
55g cocoa powder
splash of brandy or rum
caster sugar for dusting
cocoa powder for sitting

1) Preheat the oven to 180c.

2) Grease a Swiss roll tin and line with baking foil. Ideally around 23cm x 33cm in size.

3) Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together and leave to a side.

4) Sprinkle a large section of greaseproof paper with the casting sugar and leave to one side for the moment.

5) Whisk the egg whites in a bowl. When frothy add the cream of tartar.

6) Whisk the sugar with the egg yolks until thick and frothy. Add the essence of Almond.

7) Add cocoa and flour mixture into the egg yolks slowly. Spoon by spoon mix it in a stir.

8) Lightly fold in the egg whites until blended. Do not beat the air out of the mixture.

9) Spoon the mixture onto the Swiss roll tin and fill till level at the top. Bake for around 18minutes, or until sponge like at the top.

10) Turn the sponge over onto the greaseproof paper you dusted earlier. Remove the baking parchment from what is now the top of the cake. Roll the sponge with a greaseproof paper inside.

11) Leave it to cook while you make the butter cream.

12) Beat the butter into a bowl, and slowly add the icing sugar and the cocoa powder.

13) Add the brandy and mix well.

14) Unroll the log cake and spread around half the filing before rolling the cake up again (no greaseproof paper this time).

15) Spread the rest of the filing on top of the cake and dust with cocoa powder.

Christmas cake

This is one of the most iconic Christmas dishes of all time. Families all love to sit around the table as a match is struck and the cake set alight. It is a flavourful complex dish to make but it is worth the effort.

Ingredients:
225g plain flower
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
200g butter
200g dark brown sugar
2 tablespoon black treacle
1 tablespoon marmalade
¼ teaspoon vanilla essence
4 free-range eggs, beaten lightly
800g mixed dried fruits
100g chopped mixed peel
150g glace cherries, halved
100g blanched almonds, chopped
Brandy

To decorate:
200g marzipan
1-2 tablespoon apricot jam
royal Icing
3 egg whites
600g icing sugar sieved
1 ½ teaspoon liquid glycerine
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1) Start by heating the oven to 150C.

2) Grease a tin, and line with baking parchment (every side). Ideally something like a 20cm round or 10cm square tin.

3) Sieve the flour, mixed spice, salt and cinnamon into a bowl.

4) Mix together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

5) Add into the creamed butter the sugar, treacle, marmalade and vanilla essence until blended.

6) Slowly mix in the eggs, and when almost completed add a small amount of the flour mixture.

7) Slowly mix in the remaining of the flour mixture then continue to stir for a few minutes more.

8) Mix in the dried fruits, mixed peels, almonds and glace cherries.

9) Stir the mixture into the prepared greased tin and make a small whole down the middle.

10) Bake in the oven for three hours and test with a skewer. The skewer should come our clean is ready. If not ready add for another twenty minutes and check again. Be prepared to put it back in several times.

11) Remove from the oven, and leave to cool in the same tin for 15minutes.

12) Turn onto a wire rack and let it cool.

13) Make some holes using a skewer and pour about 4 tablespoons on brandy over the cake. It should soak in.

14) Wrap tightly in foil, than place in an airtight container.

15) Depending on how far in the future you prepare this cake, every week open up and add more brandy.

16) When ready to prepare for serving place the cake on a board or plate.

17) Dust your hands with icing sugar and start to knead the marzipan.

18) Brush the whole cake with the apricot jam and make sure it is warm first.

19) Roll out the marzipan into strips. Enough to cover the cake and surround it.

20) Cover the cake completely with marzipan strips.

21) Cover with a clean towel and leave in a cold place to settle for at least 24 hours.

22) Lightly whisk the egg whites adding the sugar at regular intervals. When the icing reaches soft peaks start to add the glycerine and lemon juice.

23) Spread the icing all over the cake; and decorate to your liking.

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