Derry Clarke’s decadent festive desserts are all about temptation
Chocolate, cream and butter combine for an indulgent chocolate mousse, salted ganache and raspberry-topped tart that’s sure to be a hit this Christmas
Derry Clarke has been cooking up a storm for Christmas. Delivering a festive menu that is firmly back to traditional roots given the year we have all had, he has shown us how to do an easy, home cured salmon for a delicious starter course. He’s also given us the secret to the juiciest turkey we’ll ever taste (not to mention some succulent stuffing too).
Clarke knows what he is doing when it comes to entertaining. Along with wife Sallyanne, the couple is behind the much-loved Michelin-starred Dublin restaurant L’Ecrivain.
This 25th December, they’ll be hosting a small gathering in their home and having taken us through their planned starter and main course in parts one and two of this series, we’ve now got the grand finale to look forward to.
It’s a dessert that’s a real show-stopper: a chocolate mousse, salted ganache and raspberry tart. “We want to go full on comfort this year and for that reason I have chosen something really rich,” Clarke says.
“It’s luscious, there’s a lot of cream, butter and chocolate in there. All the things you shouldn’t be eating too much of, but it is one day of the year and it’s a real centrepiece.”
Christmas Day isn’t the time for experimentation when it comes to dessert, he says. “Make a dessert that everyone really likes and one that you do normally throughout the year. You can then elaborate on it.”
And you don’t have to stop at one offering either, because Christmas isn’t Christmas in the Clarke household without that festive classic, sherry trifle. “It’s my favourite but Sallyanne has stolen it from me and she’ll make that the day before,” he laughs.
“I also plan to bring a plum pudding to the table, I flambé that and it always draws gasps from guests. I like using the Neff oven because it’s great for baking and I use the hob for the desserts. It’s a little bigger than a normal hob so you can fit loads onto it,” he says.
Christmas day should not be a rushed affair and guests might like to take their time over the meal, with gaps between courses. “I definitely think people should sit around and chat for a while before going in for dessert. It’s lovely to stay at the table for as long as possible, a good three to four hours. Don’t be rushing off. We might have a cheeseboard after a little while and a tawny port from the fridge is excellent with dessert,” he advises.
If you are the host or cook, strive for a relaxed day. Speaking from experience, Derry says you’ll be the glue holding everything together, so you need to enjoy it too. “Some people get stressed out about cooking at Christmas,” he says. “Try to think of it as a regular Sunday lunch and just enjoy the people around you.”
Chocolate mousse, salted ganache and raspberry tart
- 250g chocolate digestive biscuits
- 125g melted butter
- 350ml cream
- 600g milk chocolate
- 125g butter
- A little salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 100ml stock syrup (half sugar and half water boiled and left to cool)
- 225g melted milk chocolate
- 450ml lightly whipped cream
Butter a 23cm loose bottomed cake tin. Crush the biscuits and combine with melted butter. Line the tin with the mixture and spread evenly. Refrigerate to set.
Put the chocolate and the butter in a bowl. Bring cream to the boil and pour over the chocolate and butter. Add a pinch of salt. Mix really well. Pour on to the biscuit base. Refrigerate to set.
Using a glass/ceramic mixing bowl, mix the egg yolks and stock syrup. Place the mixing bowl over a Bain-Marie (pot of boiling water) for five minutes to cook the eggs. Then transfer the mixture to a bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until cool. Slowly add the melted chocolate and gently fold in the all of the whipped cream. Spoon the mixture on to the set biscuit and ganache base, and place back in the fridge.
To serve: Whip 200mls of cream and pipe it on to the tart. Garnish with fresh raspberries. Or finely grate nuts or chocolate over the finished tart before serving.
Sherry and blackberry trifle
- 150g sponge
- 50ml sweet sherry
- 1 pkt raspberry flavoured jelly
- 300g blackberries, halved
- 500ml custard
- 500ml whipped cream
Place sponge between eight serving glasses. Distribute the sweet sherry between them to soak sponge. Make jelly as per instructions and divide among serving glasses over the sponge. Set in the fridge.
When set add half the berries among the 8 glasses and half the custard and half of the cream between the glasses. Let set and repeat with the balance of custard, cream and berries. Garnish with grated chocolate or broken chocolate flakes.