Christmas is just around the corner and we have to start to prepare ourselves with some cool easy dessert recipes.
1. Christmas panna cotta
- 4 tbsp raisins
- 4 tbsp dark rum
- 6 gelatine sheets
- 1 litre/1¾ pints double cream
- 120g/4½oz caster sugar
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp nutmeg, to taste
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 handful berries, such as redcurrants, to serve
Place the raisins into a small bowl and cover with the rum. Set aside to soak for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water until softened. Drain and squeeze out any excess liquid using your hands.
In a heavy-based pan, heat the double cream, sugar and ground spices. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering and simmer for 2-3 minutes, whisking until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and whisk in the drained gelatine until dissolved. Drain the raisins and stir into the cream mixture (discard the soaking liquid).
Pour the mixture into ten 200ml/7fl oz moulds or ramekins, filling them to three-quarters full. Set aside to cool completely, then cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least two hours, or until set.
To serve, dip the ramekins briefly into hot water to loosen each panna cotta and turn out onto serving plates. Scatter over some redcurrants to garnish.
- 4 cups milk
- 5 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 12 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 cups light rum
- 4 cups light cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine milk, cloves, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan, and heat over lowest setting for 5 minutes. Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil.
In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until fluffy. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into the eggs. Pour mixture into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, or until thick. Do not allow mixture to boil. Strain to remove cloves, and let cool for about an hour.
Stir in rum, cream, 2 teaspoon vanilla, and nutmeg. Refrigerate overnight before serving.
3. Christmas rocky road
- 250g/9oz dark chocolate, chopped
- 150g/5oz milk chocolate, chopped
- 175g/6oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 4 tbsp golden syrup
- 200g/7oz amaretti biscuits
- 150g/5oz shelled Brazil nuts
- 150g/5oz red glacé cherries
- 125g/4oz mini marshmallows
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- edible glitter, to decorate (optional)
Place the dark and milk chocolate pieces into a heavy-based pan. Add the butter and golden syrup and cook over a low heat to melt and combine. Place the amaretti biscuits into a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin to make crumbs of various sizes. Place the Brazil nuts into another freezer bag and bash in the same way.
Take the pan of melted chocolate mixture off the heat and add the crushed biscuits and nuts.
Add the glacé cherries and mini marshmallows. Fold the mixture carefully to coat all of the solid ingredients with the syrupy chocolate mixture. Pour the mixture into a 25cm/10in x 30cm/12in greased and lined baking tray and smooth the surface as much as possible (although it will look bumpy).
Refrigerate for two hours, or until firm enough to cut. Dust with icing sugar, then sprinkle with edible glitter if you wish. Remove the block of rocky road from the tray and cut into 24 rectangles.
4. Sugar cookies
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.
5. Christmas biscuits
- 100g/3½oz unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 100g/3½oz caster sugar
- 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
- 275g/10oz plain flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- To decorate
- 400g/14oz icing sugar
- 3-4 tbsp water
- 2-3 drops food colourings
- Edible glitter
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale, light and fluffy.
Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, a little at a time, until well combined.
Stir in the flour until the mixture comes together as a dough.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of 1cm/½in.
Using biscuit cutters or a glass, cut biscuits out of the dough and carefully place onto the baking tray. To make into Christmas tree decorations, carefully make a hole in the top of the biscuit using a straw.
Bake the biscuits for 8-10 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to harden for 5 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl and stir in enough water to create a smooth mixture. Stir in the food colouring.
Carefully spread the icing onto the biscuits using a knife and sprinkle over the glitter. Set aside until the icing hardens.
6. Vanilla Yogurt and Berry Trifle
- 2 package(s) (10 ounces each) frozen strawberries, thawed, strained, and juice reserved
- 1 package(s) (12-ounce) frozen raspberries, thawed, strained, and juice reserved
- 1 1/3 cup(s) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) cornstarch
- 3/4 cup(s) heavy cream
- 3 container(s) (16 ounces each) nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt, such as Chobani
- 40 ladyfingers
- 2 tablespoon(s) orange liqueur (optional), such as Cointreau
- 1 package(s) (16-ounce) frozen blueberries, thawed and drained
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together raspberry and strawberry juices with 2/3 cup sugar and cornstarch. Boil until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whip heavy cream to stiff peaks; set aside. In a large bowl, combine yogurt and remaining 2/3 cup sugar. Fold in whipped cream.
Break ladyfingers in half. Place half of them in a 2-quart glass bowl or trifle dish. Drizzle cookies with 1 tablespoon liqueur, if using, and dollop with one-third of yogurt mixture. Spoon half of berries over yogurt mixture, then drizzle 3 to 4 tablespoons thickened juices. Layer another one-third of yogurt mixture over berries, followed by a layer of remaining ladyfingers. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon liqueur and dollop with remaining yogurt mixture. Top with remaining berries and 3 to 4 more tablespoons thickened juice. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours, before serving.
7. Malted Milk Brownie Bites
- Basic Brownie Batter
- 1/2 cup(s) malted milk powder
- 2 tablespoon(s) unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 8-inch square baking pans with parchment and set aside. Combine Basic Brownie Batter and malted milk powder. Divide batter between prepared pans.
Bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool. Using a sharp knife, cut brownies into 60 one-inch pieces. Sprinkle with unsweetened cocoa powder.
8. New York Cheesecake
- 15 graham crackers, crushed
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3/4 cup milk
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9 inch springform pan. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of springform pan.
In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours; this prevents cracking. Chill in refrigerator until serving.
9. Chocolate Coconut Balls
- 1 packet (250g) milk arrowroot biscuits
- 1/3 cup (40g) cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup (45g) desiccated coconut (plus a little extra for rolling the balls in)
- 1 tin (395g) condensed milk
Crush the biscuits and place into a mixing bowl. Add cocoa and coconut, stir together then add condensed milk. Take small amount of mixture and roll into a ball, then roll through extra coconut.
Continue with the rest of the mixture, place the chocolate balls on a plate and chill in the fridge for 30 min.
10. Peanut Butter Fudge
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3/4 cup peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth; pour into an 8×8 inch dish. Chill until firm and cut into squares.