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Christmas dessert

Hi Hounds -

I'm invited to my sister-in-law's place for Christmas this year. She's asked me to bring dessert items (she is already making pizzelles, and their mother is bringing cookies).

Any idea of what I could make? I'll have to bake on Saturday for Monday, so time is a concern. I'm a decent baker, but am by no means a master.

All recommendations and recipes would be most welcome!

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  1. There's a chocolate covered gingerbread cake on epicurious. I made it last year, everyone loved it. Nice change from cookies and candy. Not too involved. Have fun!

    1. I am making egg nog cake.
      I'm just making it up as I go.. probably will use a vanilla cake mix and use two yolks for one of the whole eggs and substitute some rum for some of the liquid and then add nutmeg.
      Not sure about the frosting yet...

      1. My go-to dessert for a large crowd is a traditional English trifle.

        The day before serving, in a pretty clear glass bowl, layer in order:

        Pound cake slices lightly brushed with rum and spread with good raspberry jam

        scratch vanilla custard (though Mom & Gram used Bird's instant)

        thickly whipped heavy cream (vailla-and-sugared)

        Repeat layers at least 3 times

        Just before serving top with toasted sliced or slivered almonds poked vertically into the top of the whipped cream.

        Serve in punch bowl cups (I collect odd ones from flea markets) to ensure small portions; rich!

        1. I made this chocolate cranberry torte from epicurious last year:

          It turned out great even though I was afraid I overbaked it a bit (hard to use someone else's oven!) A little went a long ways, and it was still moist and tasted good days later. I think making it ahead would be no problem. Also, the garnish made it look extra Christmas-y.

          We used some of the leftover Chambord in pink grapefruit mimosas. Yum.

          1. I'm making this deep dark chocolate cheesecake from Bon Appetit. You can make it up to three days in advanced:


            1. My favorite is an old Bon Appetit recipe that I never could find on epi - it's a chocolate bourbon cake with caramel whipped cream frosting. It's delicious! I'll find the recipe if you're interested - it is alcoholic, so that might not be good if it's to be shared with little people.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Andiereid

                I would love this recipe. Please post when you get a chance. This could be my new year's eve dessert.

                1. re: beetlebug

                  Here you go, Beetlebug! It's a little trouble - two day process because of chilling the cream, but worth it. This cake is so good!

                  2 cups sugar
                  1/2 cup water
                  4 cups whipping cream

                  3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
                  2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
                  2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
                  2 teaspoons baking soda
                  1/2 teaspoon salt
                  1/2 cup butter, room temperature
                  2 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
                  4 large eggs
                  3/4 cup sour cream
                  1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
                  1 cup boiling water
                  9 Tablespoons bourbon
                  purchased caramel topping

                  1. For Frosting: Stir 2 cups sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.

                  2. Increase heat to high and boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber color, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 12 minutes.

                  3. Add 2 cups whipping cream (mixture will bubble up). Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 2 cups whipping cream and stir until all caramel bits are melted and mixture is smooth, about 4 minutes. Pour caramel frosting mixture into large bowl and refrigerate overnight. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead.)

                  4. For Cake: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350F. Butter two 9 inch diameter cake pans with 2 inch high sides. Dust pans with flour.

                  5. Stir chopped unsweetened chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool. Sift cake flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Beat unsalted butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add brown sugar and beat until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.

                  6. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix in melted chocolate and vanilla extract. Mix in 1 cup boiling water and blend well. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans.

                  7. Bake until tester comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks and cool completely. (Cakes can be prepared 2 days ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate.)

                  8. Using electric mixer, beat frosting to stiff peaks. Add 1 Tbs. bourbon and beat to blend in.

                  9. Cut each cake layer in half horizontally. Place one cake layer on platter, brush with 2 Tbs. bourbon. Spread 1 cup frosting over. Repeat with 2 more cake layer. Top with remaining cake layer and brush with remaining bourbon. Spread top and sides of cake with frosting. (Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Refrigerate.)

                  10. Drizzle top of cake with caramel sauce.

                  Betty Rosbottom
                  Bon Appetit
                  November 1992

                  1. re: Andiereid

                    This looks great. Thanks for taking the time to type this out.

                    Happy Holidays.

                    1. re: beetlebug

                      No trouble at all. I had it in MasterCook, so just a cut and paste. Happy Yule to you!

              2. Another quince tarte tatin. Got to take advantage of those lucious things while they are available. I am going to make the filling this afternoon and chill until I am ready to bake. The quinces take well to this i discovered while waiting my turn with the oven last weekend. Apples would never hold up to cooking for about an hour with the butter and sugar but quinces are so firm they are perfect for that treatment.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Candy

                  What a magnificent idea! Quince Tarte Tatin! Can't wait to try it.

                  1. re: oakjoan

                    See my post from last Sat. (photos included) I was taking it to a party and had Dufor puff pastry scraps left over and decided to make another for the 2 of us for Christmas. I was having to share the oven and discovered that combining the peeled, cored, and sliced quinces in a skillet with butter, sugar, cinnamon, some freshly grated nutmeg and ginger and cooked slowly for an hour, stirring occasionallt, while waiting my oven turn worked perfectly. The quinces hold up well to this and then just had to tuck the puff pastry around the filling and bake. My friends were introduced to a fruit they had never tried (scaricity) and most fell in love. Topped the warm tarte with just barely sweetened whipped cream. Do try it. The quinces will perfume your kitchen while waiting to be cooked and of course the flavor is incomparable.

                    Made a quince and cranberry compote for turkey day too. Great stuff.

                2. For something out of the ordinary and SO easy and quick to make:

                  Festive Mold-- it looks pretty because it's white & mine looks like a wreath and then you drizzle strawberry sauce on top and I add mint leaves. Plus everyone says it's really light which is nice after a big dinner.

                  1 cup white sugar
                  1 med carton whipping cream
                  1 cup very warm water
                  2 packets geletin mix (I use Knorr where you would find baking stuff/ jello)
                  1 500ml tub sour cream- light or regular
                  2 Tsp vanilla

                  Dissolve geletin into water by stirring vigorously. Set aside.
                  Combine sugar and whipping cream into a large saucepan. Stir over med-high heat until sugar dissolved. Stir constantly so sugar does not burn. Add geletin water and stir until heated through. (not boiling) This should take about 5 mins in total.

                  Remove from heat and leave for 1 hour. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla. Pour into a mold and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

                  Serve with berries and straberry sauce + mint leaves.

                  I always get asked for the recipe on this one every time.

                  1. Bouche De Noel and stollen

                    1. The new Hollywood Gelato Co. on Hillhurst (across from Alcove) has beautiful chocolate butter cream yule logs (buche de noel). I was tempted to buy one rather than make something. My Joy of Cooking florentines turned out a total bore this year (candied orange from Surfa's not nearly as good as homemade).

                      1. Chocolate Ice Box Cake. You don't even need to bake. It is our traditional Christmas dessert. Must be made the day before. Buy the Famous (thats the brand) Chocolate wafers. Make good whipped cream. Spread whipped cream on each wafer and join the wafers together into a log. Cover with whipped cream. Sprinkle with nuts, jimmies, or whatever. Stick some tooth picks in and cover lightly with plastic. Refridgerate overnite. The cookies soften. Slice on a diagonal. Serve with a raspberry sauce. Can also be made with Ginger wafers.

                        1. How about Nigella's Chocolate-Cherry Trifle? No baking...just making a custard. The rest is putting things together. It's a showstopper for very little effort and is amazing! Here's the link:


                          1. I do a (quite dense) chocolate and almond cake (no flour just ground almonds) that is lovely with a little whipped cream. You only want a small piece and it needs to sit (in a tin) for a day before eating in order to be at it's best, if it sits for two days so be it! Trouble is the recipe is at home and my home machine has died. I find the same principle applies to many chocolate/nut cakes, maybe someone has a recipe of their own they could suggest.

                            1. If you're still thinking of dessert, an alternative to trifle is tiramisu. I think it's pretty simple to make, no baking involved, just a lot of beating with the hand mixer. Here's a recipe I came up with combining several in the past but making it a lot simpler. With tiramisu, you can make it in advance because the longer it sits, the better!

                              Below is the recipe and here's a photo: http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/200...


                              3 egg yolks*
                              1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
                              1 cup coffee
                              1/4 cup sugar
                              1 T confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar
                              )1 T Kahlua
                              8 oz. marscapone cheese, softened to room temperature
                              2 t vanilla extract
                              1 T Marsala wine
                              20 ladyfingers (hard cookies from package)
                              3 T cocoa powder
                              shaved bitter chocolate for topping

                              In large bowl, beat egg and sugar with electric mixer on high until you get a pale yellow color and ribbon forms. (About 6 minutes.) This is what’s known as the zabaglione. Mix in marsala and vanilla and blend for 1 minute. Lower speed and add marscapone. Refrigerate while you’re working on the other ingredients.

                              In another bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form (about 7 minutes). Then add confectioners’ sugar. And beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold your heavy cream into the zabaglione.

                              In shallow dish, blend coffee and Kahlua together. Quickly dip each ladyfinger (about a second for each side) and place on the bottom of a 9”X13” glass dish, dipping enough ladyfingers to create the bottom layer. You may need to cut the ladyfingers to make sure you cover the entire bottom. Pour half of your heavy cream/zabaglione mixture on top and smoothen it out with a spatula. Then create a second layer of ladyfingers dipped in coffee. Finish it off with the remaining heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

                              When ready to serve, dust cocoa powder on top and add shaved chocolate for decoration. (To shave your chocolate, hold a chef’s knife on both ends and scrape the bottom of a chocolate bar with the knife’s edge.)

                              *This recipe uses raw egg, the traditional way to make tiramisu. For safety, be sure to use fresh eggs and don’t let the yolk touch the outside of the shell. Always refrigerate your tiramisu when not eating.

                              Makes 6 to 8 servings.

                              Serve with a dessert wine such as muscat or espresso.

                              TIP: Most recipes say you should wait at least 2 hours before serving, to let your tiramisu set. I’ve found that’s not enough, especially when working with heavy cream. If you serve too soon, the cream will ooze all over the place and you won’t get that nicely cut, firm piece of tiramisu. That’s why I recommend at least 3 hours. Overnight is the best, that way you have dessert made a day ahead of any dinner you’re planning. The longer the tiramisu set, the more firm the cream and the more moist your ladyfingers will get.

                              GOOD TO THE LAST DROP: The key to a great tiramisu, in my opinion, is the coffee. Buy a cup of freshly brewed coffee from your favorite coffee shop (not Starbucks!) that’s close in flavor to an espresso. Or if you have good quality coffee beans, brew yourself a cup. When dipping your ladyfingers in the coffee, be sure to quickly dip them about a second on both sides, to allow it to get wet but not long so that they become soggy.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: singleguychef

                                Correction to my tiramisu recipe above, you should use a 9-inch square dish. sorry for the confusion! Merry Christmas!