Christmas dinner: show-stopping desserts and puddings

Trifles, roulades, meringues, iced soufflé – and a tart to die for

Eunice Power’s choux snowmen, filled with cream

Eunice Power’s choux snowmen, filled with cream

 

This week, it’s time to turn our thoughts to what desserts to make, to bring Christmas lunch or dinner to a suitably show-stopping conclusion.

We’ll take it for granted that you made your plum pudding back on Stir-up Sunday, and that it is maturing nicely. But for most households, an additional dessert, or two, is called for on December 25th.

Caterer Eunice Power can always be relied upon for a festive dessert to wow everyone at the table, and who could forget these little guys – choux snowmen that look too good to eat. Choux pastry is having a bit of a moment. I’ve seen various interpretations of choux swans, drizzled with chocolate sauce, popping up this winter, but these snowmen are totally original.

Eunice Power’s mandarin orange, mascarpone and whiskey trifle
Eunice Power’s mandarin orange, mascarpone and whiskey trifle

Trifle is the most popular alternative, or addition, to the traditional steamed pud. Nothing wrong with the classic sponge, jelly, custard and cream affair, with or without a liberal glug of sweet sherry, but here are a few alternatives.

Eunice Power’s mandarin orange, mascarpone and whiskey trifle is a stunner. Lighter and fresher than the traditional strawberry, custard and cream confection, this one makes great use of a seasonal citrus fruit.

If you can track down some of the brightly coloured “forced” or hothouse rhubarb that makes its annual appearance in late December, you might like to try Lilly Higgins’s rhubarb trifle with a praline crunch topping.

JP McMahon recently revealed that he prefers the Italian classic, tiramisu, to all other Christmas pudding offerings. It’s not traditional, but it is light, and very tasty. The caffeine in the espresso coffee the sponge fingers are dipped in might be just the thing to offset post-feast fatigue too.

Vanessa Greenwood’s meringue roulande with mixed berry coulis
Vanessa Greenwood’s meringue roulande with mixed berry coulis

Meringue is another light, sweet option, and Vanessa Greenwood’s roulade with mixed berry coulis comes with just enough wow factor to put the flaming plum pudding in the shade. There is a video alongside her recipe, just in case you are put off by the technical demands of rolling the fluffy confection. Her coffee cream meringue roulade is another option.

Eunice Power’s redcurrant pavlova
Eunice Power’s redcurrant pavlova

Staying with meringue, we’re back with Eunice Power for her redcurrant pavola, another stunning centrepiece using seasonal berries. Three layers of billowy meringue sandwiched with cream and drizzled with redcurrant jelly need only a garnish of fresh redcurrants.

For something quite different, Rory O’Connell’s Medjool date and vanilla tart, from his award winning new book, Cool Well, Eat Well (Gill Books), is a grown up option.

A frozen dessert would be a cool way to go, and Carmel Somers’s iced fruit soufflés will sit happily in the freezer, waiting to be taken out 20 minutes before serving.

Or perhaps you’ll go the way of the minimalists – who have already ditched starters in favour of pre-dinner nibbles handed round with drinks – and skip dessert entirely.

Donal Skehan’s chocolate dipped candied oranges with sea salt.
Donal Skehan’s chocolate dipped candied oranges with sea salt.

In that case, a few treats to pass around with coffee might be an appropriate ending to the big feast. Donal Skehan’s chocolate dipped candied oranges with sea salt, and Eunice Power’s cranberry truffles with white and dark chocolate will satisfy those for whom no meal is complete without a little something sweet.

Eunice Power’s cranberry truffles with white and dark chocolate
Eunice Power’s cranberry truffles with white and dark chocolate
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