With Christmas around the corner, it is time for a number of culinary choices. Warming winter foods are popular throughout the season, using rich flavours and aromas. If you have a sweet tooth, but Christmas pudding leaves you uninspired, consider the following easy to make festive desserts.
Mulled Wine Sorbet
Alternative deserts do not need to lose their festive edge and, at the end of a heavy meal, sorbet is a refreshing change. Most households over the holidays will have mulled wine at some point, and the leftover drink can be reused to make an icy but festive course. Sieve the leftover wine to remove any impurities and add a little extra brandy or port to the mixture (this will prevent it from freezing solidly). You needn’t own an ice cream maker to enjoy this desert – simply pour into a shallow dish or container and place in the freezer. Whilst it is freezing, remove from the freezer at intervals to whisk. This will create a smooth sorbet rather than a solid block of ice.
The Humble Trifle
For many people, trifle is a regular feature of the Christmas menu. This dessert is easy to make and can be altered to create an unlimited number of variations. The humble trifle has come a long way in recent years. If you crave the simple jelly, custard, cream combo then the trifle can be made the day before and kept in the fridge. For Christmas, trifle usually contains sherry, port or Madeira wine. This works well as a spare bottle is usually at hand over the holidays, whether as a gift or a leftover feature of festive hampers for Christmas. Drizzle fruit and biscuits or broken cake with alcohol before adding to the jelly layer of the trifle. Cover with thick custard and, once set, top with whipped cream. Grated chocolate works well on top of the trifle, or for a lighter finish opt for sliced fruit or berries. This is a colourful dish that adds decoration to the festive table.
Yule Chocolate Log
For chocoholics the Yule log is a festive favourite. Traditionally, Christmas desserts heavily feature alcohol and dried fruits, with the alternative being an investment in cheese hampers and coffee. Because of this, the chocolate pudding is particularly popular with children. Whilst shop-bought logs are available, homemade versions are relatively simple to make. Even cheating (buying chocolate cake mix and premade frosting) means that the end product will have character. If starting from scratch, follow a recipe for a basic chocolate sponge mixture and spread onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Since this forms a shallow layer, the cake will cook surprisingly quickly. Once taken from the oven, cover with frosting and roll (using the baking paper to help you) into a Yule log shape and place in the fridge. Melt enough dark chocolate to cover the log and apply with a spatula and fork to create a rustic finish.