Light & Dark

Spread your wings this Christmas and create some heavenly treats that are ethereal and light yet wickedly indulgent.
Pina Colada Coconut hats

80ml cream
400g white chocolate, pieces or buttons
20ml rum or Malibu
50g crystalised pineapple, chopped finely
100g dessicated sweet coconut, plus a little extra
Sliver balls to decorate

 

Melt 300g of the chocolate over a bain-marie. Slowly add the cream stirring gently until incorporated. Soak the coconut and pineapple pieces in the rum or Malibu then add to the cream and stir well. Allow it to cool until firm, then scoop out with a soup-spoon and shape into a hat or bell shape. Roll in the extra coconut and chill for an hour. Meanwhile, melt the remaining chocolate in a small deep bowl. Dip each hat into the chocolate and stand on a wire rack to set. Decorate the top with a silver ball.

Pomegranate Pavlova

8 large egg whites
500g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tsp white vinegar
3-4 pomegranates
250ml cream
2 tbs icing sugar

 
In a clean dry bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Slowly whisk in the caster sugar one tablespoon at time until it is all incorporated and the mix is stiff and glossy. Sieve in the cornflour, followed by the vinegar and fold in gently. On a baking sheet lined with parchment draw a circle the size of a dinner plate. Pile the meringue mix into the centre and spread it out to fill the circle. Alternatively, you can use a piping bag to create a fancier base. Bake in a pre-heated oven 150°C/130°C fan for 50 minutes until crisp on the outside but still marshmallow like within. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile, de-seed the pomegranates and collect any juice that’s released. Place 2/3 of the seeds in a saucepan with 2/3 of the icing sugar and heat gently until the seeds have released all of their juice and the sugar has dissolved. Strain the juice and allow to cool. Whip the cream with 1 tsp of the remaining icing sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract. Pile the whipped cream in the centre of the meringue base and drizzle over the cooled pomegranate juice. Sprinkle over the remaining pomegranate seeds and some icing sugar and serve.

Festive Caramel Cheesecakes

For the bases:
Cooking spray
350g digestive biscuits, crushed
150g unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp soft brown sugar

For the filling:
450g cream cheese, room temp.
110g golden caster sugar
3 medium eggs
2 tbsp cornflour
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the caramel:
300g dulce de leche (or see make it yourself below)

To serve:
200 ml whipping cream
6 small white chocolate stars
Icing sugar

For the bases: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Spray the insides of four individual ramekins, approximately 8 cm in diameter, with cooking spray. Combine all the ingredients for the bases in a large mixing bowl, stirring well until the mixture resembles wet sand. Use a tablespoon to pack half the mixture into the bases of the prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins on a baking tray and bake for about 10 minutes until the bases are golden-brown and set. Remove from the oven and set aside until needed. Keep the remaining base mixture covered to
one side.

For the filling: Beat together the cream cheese with the caster sugar in a large mixing bowl until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one by one, until thoroughly incorporated. Add the cornflour and vanilla extract, and beat again until well-incorporated, about 1 minute. Divide the mixture between the ramekins. Place the ramekins in a roasting tray lined with a tea towel. Fill the tray with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

For the caramel: Use a warm tablespoon to spoon the dulce de leche over the cheesecake fillings in the ramekins. Carefully spoon the reserved base mixture over the top of the caramel. Bake the cheesecakes for about 45-55 minutes until golden-brown on top and puffed around the edges. Remove from the oven and then remove the cheesecakes from the water. Loosely cover with clingfilm and chill overnight.

To serve: The next day, remove the cheesecakes from the fridge and carefully turn out from their ramekins. Whip the cream until softly peaked in a mixing bowl. Spoon on top of the cheesecakes before topping with a chocolate star and dusting lightly with icing sugar.

Nordic Bundt Cake

225g butter
350g plain flour
450g sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 lemon, zest and juice
150ml natural yogurt

Grease a 32cm bundt pan and dust with flour. Pre-heat to oven to 180°C. In a large bowl sieve the flour baking power. Beat the butter and sugar together using an electric whisk until pale and fluffy and then add the eggs one at a time until combined. Mix in the yoghurt and lemon juice. Then beat the flour in a tbsp. at a time until you have a thick, smooth batter. Pour the batter into the mould and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently tap out of the mould onto a wire rack and leave to cook. Place on a serving platter and dust with icing sugar and a little more lemon zest.

Chocolate Mousse Cake

For the cake layer
110g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
½ tsp baking powder
120g unsalted butter, cubed
240g caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate mousse
600g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids, finely chopped
900ml double cream
½ tsp salt
75ml water
5 tsp powdered gelatin

For the collar
200g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids, finely chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil

To serve
400g red seedless grapes
140g blueberries
Icing sugar

For the cake layer: Preheat the oven to 180°C/160° fan. Grease and line a high-sided 20 cm spring-form cake tin with greaseproof paper. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Stir well and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan set over a medium heat. Add the sugar and continue cooking until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, beat the eggs and vanilla extract into the butter and sugar mixture. Add the dry ingredients, folding thoroughly until you have a smooth, even batter. Spoon the mix into the prepared tin, smoothing the top flat. Rap the tin a few times on a flat work surface before baking until risen and dry to the touch, about 20 minutes; a cake tester should come out clean from its centre. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the chocolate mousse: Combine the chocolate with 400ml of the cream and the salt in a large heatproof bowl. Set over a half-filled saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature, stirring from time to time, until it reaches room temperature. In the meantime, pour 75ml water into a small bowl. Sprinkle over the gelatin and leave undisturbed. Once the melted chocolate is at room temperature, warm the gelatin water in a microwave for 15-20 seconds on high. Remove and stir well until the gelatin has dissolved. Add the gelatin to the chocolate mixture, stirring well to incorporate. Whip the remaining cream to soft peaks in a separate mixing bowl. Fold into the chocolate mixture in two additions. Spoon it on top of the baked cake layer, smoothing the top flat. Cover the tin and chill for 4 hours until the mousse has set. Once set, freeze for 30 minutes to firm up.

For the collar: Cut a 10cm wide strip of acetate at least 70cm in length. Combine the chocolate and coconut oil in a heatproof bowl set over a half-filled saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted. When ready, remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Use a clean pastry brush to paint the melted chocolate onto the acetate, covering it completely; line your work surface with sheets of newspaper to prevent too much mess. Carefully turn out the mousse cake from its tin. Wrap the chocolate side of the acetate collar around the side of the cake, overlapping it when the seams meet. Return the cake to the fridge for a further 30 minutes until the collar has set.

To serve: Roll some of the blueberries in any remaining melted chocolate. Leave to set on a lined tray. Remove the cake from the fridge when ready and carefully peel away the acetate. Arrange the grapes and blueberries on top of the cake, dusting lightly with icing sugar before serving.