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ISO a main Christmas dessert other than cookies, a yule log or fruit cake

If anyone has any suggestions for a seasonal, holiday christmas dessert other than the usual and tradional.


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  1. I've made tarte tatins for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last year I made Nigella's Clementine Cake. I do like making a buche de noel when I have time, though. Oh - and a mince meat pie.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      I was also going to suggest a tarte tatin. I think it'd be a great dessert choice! A good old spice cake drizzled with caramel might be another option.

      1. re: MMRuth

        I love that Nigella Clementine Cake. Such an unusual texture and tangy taste. Everyone's amazed that it's made just with nuts, eggs and whole clementines or oranges.

        I'm pushing a dessert I described here and served on Thanksgiving, from Dolce Italiano - a pumpkin custard served with whipped mascarpone/cream and a golden raisin orange juice compote. Truly heavenly taste and texture.

        1. I like Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Cloud Cake. You can put anything you want on the whipped cream... miniature candy canes....chocolate truffles...spice drops.....or just red and green sugars....


          A very traditional dessert is plum pudding (a/k/a suet pudding) with hard sauce or vanilla sauce. My mother in law (who got the recipe from her English grandmother) makes it every year. She has started doing it in a crock pot in a special canister. Then she reheats slices quickly in the microwave... Below is the more traditional method and recipe:

          PLUM a/k/a SUET PUDDING

          1 cup ground suet, make sure the suet is good quality
          1 cup milk
          1 cup molasses
          1 cup seedless raisins
          2 1/2 c. flour, sifted
          2 tsp. cinnamon
          1 tsp. ground cloves
          1 heaping tsp. baking soda
          Pinch salt

          1/2 c. butter, softened
          1 c. sugar
          1 egg, beaten
          1 tsp. flour
          1 tsp. vanilla

          Mix all ingredients together adding the flour and raisins last. Pour into a round 9 x 3 pan (greased). STEAM the pudding for 2/1 2 to 3 hours. Serve warm with sauce.

          Sauce: Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg, flour, and boiling water, heat and boil till slightly thickened. Stir in vanilla.

          1. I suggest Armenian Christmas pudding, which is a thick pudding of barley or wheat, cooked with dried fruit, honey, and toasted almonds. Very dense and rich; easy to make; keeps well. Pretty healthy for a dessert, too.

            Here's the recipe I use: http://www.recipelink.com/mf/31/16179

            There are lots more online if you do a recipe search.

            1. Our favorite is a Bourbon marinated Apple wreath (made of puff pastry). It's delicious and festive. We glaze it, and decorate it with angelica and fresh berries. You get your red and green on the wreath when it's brought to the table. It's served with homemade Cinnamon Ice Cream.

              1. For my crowd, a favorite is sticky toffee pudding ....
                Easy to make in advance (even freezes well)
                Reheats easily in the oven while you enjoy your meal
                serve with a dollup of vanilla ice cream .... can't be beat.
                cook's illustrated has a simple tasty recipe; give it a try

                1. I've always gone traditional, for my family heritage, with a steamed pudding, flamed, and served with hard sauce and brown sugar sauce. Since being unable to tolerate suet, I've experimented with various steamed puddings, including my favourite, a carrot pudding, using the relative amount of fruit as a traditional Christmas pudding. I've also made a LOVELY steamed ginger pudding, with a lot of roasted hazelnuts, some raisins, and some of the candied fruit that I enjoy in my Christmas puddings, sometimes with roasted almonds.... it all depends on your guests and your own tastes, as well as where you live. Steamed puddings seem to suit the colder climes. Tell us what you end up choosing, howchow, please.


                  5 Replies
                  1. re: violabratsche

                    Annie, I would greatly appreciate recipes or links for the carrot pudding and steamed ginger pudding. Theses are my fave Christmas desserts, and no one else in my current family likes it, so I make small ones for myself.

                    When I was a teen, my then stepmother loved steamed puddings as much as I, and always with hard sauce. Our relationship was rough at first, but I knew we would forge a friendship when I discovered our affinity for this most delectable item that first Christmas spent between two houses. We are still friends now, though my dad and she split when I was in my twenties.

                    1. re: amyzan

                      STEAMED GINGER PUDDING
                      1/3 c Flour
                      1 1/2 tsp Ground ginger
                      1 pn Baking powder
                      1/4 cup Butter
                      1/4 c Sugar
                      1 Eggs, Large
                      2 2/3 tbsp scant Milk
                      1 1/2 tb Preserved ginger, chopped-fine
                      1/3 c Golden raisins
                      1/3 c Raisins
                      1/3 c Currants
                      1 1/3 tbsp Chopped mixed citrus peel
                      1 1/4 cups combined, nuts and fruit

                      Sieve together the dry ingredients.
                      Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
                      Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
                      Fold in the dry ingredients followed by the milk, and
                      mix until quite smooth.
                      Gently fold in the preserved ginger and spoon into a 3 cup round baking dish.
                      Cover with greased paper and then tightly with a foil collar.
                      Tie securely around the foil rim with string.
                      Place the whole in a large pan of water and steam for 1-3/4 hours.
                      When cooked, turn out onto a serving platter.

                      Steamed Carrot Pudding
                      1 cup grated carrots
                      1 cup grated potatoes
                      1 cup flour
                      1 cup brown sugar
                      1 cup butter
                      1 tsp baking soda
                      1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg
                      1 cup raisins
                      1 cup dried currants, more raisins, or dried cranberries
                      1 cup citron (mixed candied fruit/peel)
                      1 cup chopped walnuts

                      Allow butter to warm to room temperature. Grate carrots and peeled potatoes into mixing bowl. Sift together into bowl flour, soda, and spices, stirring slowly into grated vegetables. Add softened butter and mix.
                      Carrots and potatoes will weep. Slowly stir in sugar.
                      Let batter rest for 5 minutes and stir in walnuts, fruit, and citron before spooning pudding mold, tapping to eliminate air pockets. Fill 2/3 full. Do not overfill, because batter will expand when cooked.
                      Cover top of mold with aluminum foil and place on rack in 2-3 inch water bath in large pot. Steam at high simmer for 2 hours, making sure that mold is not touching the bottom or sides of the steamer pot.
                      Serve piping hot with hard sauce or vanilla ice cream.
                      This pudding can be steamed ahead of time and kept covered and refrigerated for several days, but it should be heated piping hot just before serving.

                      I can't find any notes on what size mold to use, for the last. I probably just used a round casserole dish. I found a local kitchen supply outlet that carries different sizes of pudding bowls, and bought myself the smallest, as I am alone. I've also made them in custard cups, and ramekins, for smaller servings, as well. I compared a couple of other recipes I have, and found that one had as little as 1/4 cup of butter, which I would favour, as the 1 cup of butter in the carrot pudding sound like way too much, to me. I usually cover the batter with greased parchment before covering with foil, and tying tightly with kitchen twine. I don't have a proper steamer, so I put old jar lids in the bottom of my largest cooking pot, so the pudding bowl or ramekins or custard cups can sit on them for steaming. It looks to me that I reduced the ginger pudding to a smaller amount for myself.

                      I hope you enjoy the the puddings, amyzan. I sure do!


                      1. re: violabratsche


                        Thank you so much for those steamed pudding recipes. I am going to pass them on to my mother in law and see if she wants to try some variations on the original.

                        What I like about Christmas desserts - Plum Pudding, Buche de Noel, and holiday cookies, are that we don't have them except at Christmas time, making them very special.

                        1. re: violabratsche

                          Thanks so much for the recipes, Annie!

                          1. re: amyzan

                            You are very welcome. I love them, too, and keep them as a treat for Christmastime. Same with the special cookies. It's what makes the holidays just a little more special. I usually flame my puddings too!

                            Happy Holidays to all!!


                    2. i'd suggest croc en bouche, it's a spectacular presentation....and unlike steamed puddings or fruitcakes most people will like it.buche de noel is nice but tired.

                      1. Our traditional Christmas Eve dessert (aside from the usual cookies) is my great-aunt's homemade cheesecake. Christmas Day, believe it or not- a very special jello mold.... plus whatever I make as an alternative (!) My grandmother's caramel flan. Chocolate cupcakes for the kiddies. The inevitable box of pastries from cousins dropping by....and Panettone/Pandoro. Why not look into Panettone? Currently, there are a couple of threads on this topic. Chestnut panettone is lovely, and seasonal.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: vvvindaloo

                          You can make a fantastic bread pudding using Panettone.

                          1. re: jlafler

                            very true! i've used it for trifle, as well.

                        2. Swedish Rum Cream: Soak 1 envelope plain gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Beat 5 egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar. Slowly add 2 cups hot milk. Cook custard in double boiler. When smooth and thick, add soaked gelatin. Cool. Add 1/2 cup Myers rum and 1 cup heavy cream, whipped. Pour into mold or small mods and chill well. Serve with red garnish (raspberries, lingonberries, cherries) .

                          1. a Stollen, Croquembouche, Linzer tort, steamed puddings.

                            1. My mom has asked that we not do a sweet dessert this year. (I'm usually all sugared out by dinnertime on Christmas Day anyway, so I understand.) I'm thinking of doing a cheese plate with fruit and nuts. It's not really a dessert per se, howchow, but perhaps it's an idea some would appreciate?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: amyzan

                                I love the idea of a cheese plate. Usually by the 25th of December, the last thing I want to see on the table is a big confection for desert.

                                I love to bake them, but they are not my for choice for something to eat.

                                1. re: amyzan

                                  I know I keep touting this - but did you see the recipe I posted from Vegetarian Harvest for the prune/pear compote to serve w/ blue cheese? It's rich - nice and wintery - and delicious.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    On which thread did you post it, MMRuth? I haven't seen it...sounds good.

                                2. We always have steamed persimmon pudding with hard sauce. I also think a trifle is festive.

                                  1. We like a very simple Apple Struddel and I like to experiment with other fruit, dates, nuts...

                                    And by using the pastry puff product it makes it so simple and is low is sugar for those watching their sugar intake.

                                    1. Well duh, to me!

                                      When I make the Bacardi Rum Cake at Christmas it is devoured in no time, have even been asked to make it as a gift for individuals! This one always get excellent comments!

                                      1. I usually make a traditional Vacherin for Christmas dessert.

                                        It is a Meringue shell, bottom with sides that is filled with Ice Cream. For Christmas I use Vanilla Ice Cream with Marrons Glaces in Rum ,a layer of meringue in the middle, another of Ice cream and Marrons, then decorate before serving with Whipped Cream and Marrons Glaces on top. It is very easy and can be prepared in advance and put together early in the day for dinner.

                                        To go all out, I serve a Chocolate Rum Sauce on the side.

                                        In France it is much, much easier, as every local boulangerie makes the Meringue shell.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Fleur

                                          That reminds me of a lovely french dessert I made once: chocolate meringue disks layered with chocolate mousse. There were about five layers of disks and the outside was frosted with the mousse so it looked like a lovely cake - it was so easy and had an incredible 'wow' factor.

                                          1. re: krissywats


                                            That sounds like the delicious French dessert - dacquoise. I remember the dacquoise at The Coach House, now Babbo, I believe. Wonderful childhood memories of pertfect disks of Hazelnut Merinque filled with a Mousse or Pastry Cream.

                                            Gaston Lenotre's books have all those desserts in them.

                                        2. When I was growing up in the fifties we would have a store bought ice cream bombe- it came from a fancy pastry store and arrived in dry ice as most families had small freezers then- Ina has a recipe


                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ginnyhw

                                            Oooh, I remember those bombes! Sometimes they were like Neopolitan ice cream inside - strawberry, vanilla, chocolate.

                                            A friend of my family used to make the most delicious desserts she called "biscuit tortoni" - it was frozen in ramekins - sort of like a frozen ice cream pie with nuts. I gotta go see if I can find a recipe online!

                                          2. Gingerbread. I really liked this one I made last week (and then there is also the Gramercy Park Gingerbread recipe too...):


                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: LauraB

                                              I love Claudia Fleming (ex pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern Restaurant in NYC)'s Oatmeal Stout Gingerbread. It's really intense and completely perfect with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or whipped mascarpone. You can find the recipe online by searching for "oatmeal stout gingerbread". Oatmeal stout is a kind of stout that one can find in any well-stocked beer emporium.

                                            2. This recipe for Heath Bar torte is quite incredible, and makes a big presentation.


                                              You could certainly make your own toffee to use in it too.

                                              1. How about a pavlova with winter fruits?

                                                1. I've been dying to try that pear upside down tart/cake that was in the NYTimes recently...

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: piccola

                                                    Speaking of gingerbread, as they have above, reminded me of another really nice recipe I made recently - upside down pear gingerbread. It was on some recipe site, I think. If you want it and can't find it, I'll paraphrase.

                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                      I think I made that cake once. It was a gingerbread upside down cake with pear. i am pretty sure that i saw it on the epicurious site. a wonderful cake- moist, pretty, and not too sweet.

                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                        it's on epicurious... and it's wonderful! I made it a couple of years ago and it was a huge hit.

                                                        1. re: mimilulu

                                                          there are 3 on the site. i'm guessing it was the first that comes up - 2002? if you remember could you let me know because this sounds fabulous!

                                                    2. Using chest nut !
                                                      marron torte,mont blanc.

                                                      If you can find canne marron puree,
                                                      It would be super easy & impressive dessert you can make !
                                                      I don't see canned marron around where I live.
                                                      but I'm sure you can find it at some where ( sorry ! )
                                                      canned marron is probably from France.

                                                      or make puree your self.

                                                      I don't know why there aren't many marron dessert in America.
                                                      but It is very delicious.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: ymushi

                                                        I agree about chestnuts (marrons) being great in desserts. In the US, at least here in Northern California, we have both canned and vacuum-packed in plastic chestnuts. They also come canned in a sweetened syrup. It is a lot of work to roast and peel them yourself...at least it has been for me in the past.

                                                      2. I suggest a trifle, made in a large glass bowl on a pedestal, with nice berries and liqueur and whipped cream. Yum!

                                                        9 Replies
                                                        1. re: josie888

                                                          I second the trifle - I make one with lemon curd, the almond cake base in the Martha Stewart baking book (she uses it as the base for petit fours) and red raspberries. It only comes out at Christmas and Easter, so stays special.

                                                          I also do a parfait in some pretty glass cups I have - a cream cheese/whipped cream/yogurt layer with dark chocolate sauce and cherry preserves.

                                                          I must say that I am inclined to these two desserts because I have a nice trifle bowl and the little glass cups...

                                                          1. re: josie888

                                                            People seem to be impressed by trifles. I made an "eggnog tiramisu triffle" from epicurious a couple of years ago. It has chocolate leaves decorating the top. I thought it had a few too many flavors and was a little pedestrian in it's goopy-ness. However, the family raved about it, and my mother has requested it again this year.

                                                            1. re: danna

                                                              Yeah, I looked at that recipe when it was mentioned earlier. It seemed more like a tiramisu than a trifle, and I didn't quite get why they added "trifle" to the title, excepting all the egg yolks...

                                                              1. re: amyzan

                                                                I suppose they called it a trifle because of the bowl ;-) Actually, it's a little more fluffy/gooey/whipped cream-y than what I think of as tiramisu.

                                                                Anyhow, my Mom has now changed her mind and wants me to make my "tiramisu cake" which is really a tiramisu charlotte, I suppose. I make the lady fingers and line a spring form pan with the lady fingers, and then make a proper tiramisu inside it. After chilling, I unmould it, and tie a ribbon around the outside, which makes it festive, but more importantly, holds it all together. It's a pain in the ass big-time, but it flatters me she remember stuff I make.

                                                                1. re: danna

                                                                  That's how I've always made my tiramisu. It's a pretty presentation.

                                                                  I agree that people always seem to be impressed with trifle and tiramisu. Even trifles that aren't quite trifles are popular (Someone brought one to a potluck made w/ chocolate cake from a mix, chocolate pudding, cool whip and heath bars or something like that--it disappeared quickly and people talked about it for a long time).

                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                    Yep. My former company once had a dessert contest. The winner was a layered dish of pudding, whipped cream, graham crackers, and chocolate frosting. He called it an eclair. Honestly, if you gave me a bowl of it right now, I'd probably eat it. At the time however, I was pretty disgusted as my 7 layer poppy seed torte w/ creme fraiche and chocolate ganache sat there, alone and lonely.

                                                                    1. re: danna

                                                                      If it's any consolation, I'd dig into that torte in a flash.:-) It sounds delicious.

                                                                      1. re: danna

                                                                        Danna, I went to a bachelorette party where a friend of a friend brought a "Chocolate Orgasm" cake. This was a devil's food cake mix made some way other than the instructions on the box, maybe involving instant pudding (?) then frosted with instant pudding mixed into Cool Whip. Everyone raved, and I thought it was the worst chocolate cake I'd ever tasted. Worst, by far. Maybe they were being polite, but I don't think so as it showed up again a few months later when one of the atendees had another party. It positively blows my mind what foods some adults enjoy.

                                                                        1. re: amyzan

                                                                          Amyzan, that's how I developed my own Death By Chocolate Trifle (recipe is in another post below). I had one of those miserable chocolate mix cakes with cool whip and instant pudding.... and came up with my own variation, plus I added brandied cherries.... kind of like Black Forest.... What a difference in taste the homemade stuff makes.

                                                            2. you might ifnd some inspiration here http://www.madbaker.net/category/cakes/

                                                              or http://cookingismypassion.blogspot.co... (Caramel Hazelnut Cheesecake


                                                              There are so many good baking bloggers out there who include lots of photos--something you don't get with Epi or Egull. I like to surf to get ideas. You can always change flavor components or seasonal fruits.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: toodie jane

                                                                T-Jane, Thanks for the Madbaker link. I an always looking for baking sites, and that seems to be well done and very informative.

                                                              2. Thanks everyone! - there are so many great ideas - we are thinking the clementine cake, stickey toffee pudding or a chestnut torte. happy holidays.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: howchow

                                                                  The clementine cake is everything a good dessert should be. Unfussy, easy to make, and quickly devoured. A dusting of bittersweet cocoa makes it jaffa-riffic!

                                                                2. Last year I made Christopher Kimball's linzertorte. Each slice had a dollop of gently whipped cream flavoured with a touch of framboise, plus a little extra drizzle of framboise on top (which made the dinner guests swoon).

                                                                  1. Oranges with walnuts and Grand Marnier - simple, elegant, not too filling! THis is a
                                                                    terrific dessert I had at a boyfriends in Switzerland - we broke up years ago but I still love the dessert!
                                                                    RECIPE: use a knife to peel oranges so that no pith remains. Slice the oranges and break the sections apart gently - not completely. Add walnut halves. (figure 8 times the volume of oranges to walnuts) Add a generous amount of Grand Marnier and let sit in fridge for a few hours or overnight before serving. It is delicious and refreshing looks gorgeous in a glass bowl (and terrific with some fine chocolates on the side.)

                                                                    1. I thought the Fresh Ginger Cake recipe posted here on Chowhound (http://www.chow.com/recipes/10684) was excellent and holiday-ish. It's a simple dessert that takes out some holiday stress. I usually add a little ground chile in addition to the black pepper and make a glaze with apricot jam. Would also be good with some boozy whipped cream.

                                                                      Since fruitcake is out, I won't post our most typical Christmas dessert, which is a Dundee Cake. It's a custardy orange cake with dried fruit and nuts. If that sounds interesting and sufficiently un-fruitcake-y, I can post a recipe.

                                                                      I also make a polenta apple cake a lot. Again very good and very easy. I got the recipe from Real Simple (http://food.realsimple.com/realsimple...). I alter the recipe by adding some walnuts to the apple mixture and adding some clove and nutmeg. It is very good hot with some good vanilla ice cream on top. Cinnamon ice cream would be good, too, if you can find it.

                                                                      1. I've been dreaming of Baked Alaska lately, so I may do one. Sometimes for Christmas I make a Charlotte Russe or a Raspberry Charlotte.

                                                                        1. I saw an eggnog trifle on epicurious that I absolutely want to try. But our traditions keep us wrist deep in rich and creamy tocino del cielo and blissful torrone throughout the Christmas season.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: JungMann

                                                                            Speaking of trifles, this summer I created my very own trifle, which is a variation of what is referred to as Death By Chocolate.

                                                                            Here is my recipe. It's absolutely delicious because none of it is pre-packaged (well except for the Heath/Skors bars, but that should be forgivable). And while I used a buttermilk chocolate cake, you can use any chocolate cake recipe you like.

                                                                            Death By Chocolate Trifle

                                                                            One Recipe plain Buttermilk Chocolate Cake (also called Texas Sheet Cake), baked as directed, then cubed. See recipe link below.
                                                                            One batch Chocolate Cream Pie Filling, chilled overnight covered with plastic wrap on top to prevent skin. See recipe link below.
                                                                            One pint heavy cream, whipped (sweetened with one tablespoon confectioner's sugar and half teaspoon vanilla)
                                                                            Two cups frozen (or jarred) sweet cherries, defrosted, cut in half, and macerated overnight in the fridge in:
                                                                            A half cup of Cherry Brandy
                                                                            One Bag Heath Bar Milk Chocolate Toffee Pieces (several crushed Heath or Skors bars will do if you can't find the bagged)

                                                                            In large glass trifle or punch bowl:

                                                                            Crumble half the cake cubes, top with half the cherries and juice, spread half the pudding over the cherries, spread half the whipped cream, sprinkle with half the toffee bits and then repeat.

                                                                            Recipe for the cake (For the trifle don't make the frosting):

                                                                            Recipe for the chocolate cream filling (It makes a great pie by the way). For the trifle just make the pudding layer: