All Women's Talk

8 Fabulous Desserts for Christmas ...

By Sheila

Warm fire by the chimney, comforting woollen clothes, wrapped presents under a lovely Christmas tree and loved ones to celebrate it with. What else would you need to complete this picture? Christmas desserts **ofcourse! As the festive season draws closer, we bring to you a collection of **must-try, lip smacking desserts that will take you to heaven and back...

1 Chocolate Fudge:

Chocolate Fudge:This recipe is so easy to follow that you cannot go wrong! And who does not like this classic dessert. I love it because you can literally eat it however you want...warm, cold, with icecream, whipped cream...the possibilities are endless!

Ingredients:

• 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and chopped (can also use pecans or walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped)
• 1-14 ounce can (396 grams) sweetened condensed milk
• 1 pound (452 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
• 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Method:

• To toast nuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until the nuts are fragrant and their skins start to blister. Remove from oven and place in a clean kitchen towel. Roll up the towel and let the nuts steam for five minutes and then rub nuts to remove skins. Let cool and then chop into pieces.If using pecans or walnuts toast the nuts for about 8 minutes, or until lightly brown and fragrant. Cool and then chop coarsely.
• Chocolate Fudge: First line the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 x 2 inch pan (20 x 20 x 5 cm) with aluminum foil. Set aside.
• Combine the condensed milk, chopped chocolate, and butter in a stainless steel bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate mixture, stirring frequently, making sure the mixture doesn't get too hot or the fudge may be grainy. Stir until smooth (it will be very thick). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and chopped nuts.
• Spread the fudge into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula. Let it stand at room temperature until it cools. Then carefully remove the fudge from the pan by lifting the edges of the foil. With a long, sharp knife, cut the fudge into pieces. Refrigerate before serving.

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2 Strawberry Trifles:

Strawberry Trifles:This **layered desert **is as easy to make as it is delicious…especially for kids. I love that I can improvise and add my own personal touch to it. Feel **free to experiment **and add your own favourite fruits and nuts.

Ingredients:

• 1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
• 3 cups cold milk
• 1 (9 inch) angel food cake, cut in cubes
• 4 bananas, sliced
• 1 (16 ounce) package frozen strawberries, thawed
• 1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Method:

• Prepare pudding with milk according to package directions.
• In a trifle bowl or other glass serving dish, layer half the cake pieces, half the pudding, half the bananas, half the strawberries and half the whipped topping.
• Repeat layers. Cover and chill in refrigerator 4 hours before serving.

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3 Snowflakes:

Snowflakes:I cannot think of a simpler recipe for wonderful tasting biscuits and the best part? They look so “christmasy” that kids are bound to love them!

Ingredients:

• 2 3/4 cups plain flour
• 1 cup pure icing sugar
• 125g butter, cubed, chilled
• 1 egg, at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

• Place flour and 3/4 cup sugar in a food processor. Process for 30 seconds. Add butter. Process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and vanilla. Process until dough comes together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth. Press into a 20cm (diameter) disc. Wrap in greaseproof paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
• Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 flat baking trays with baking paper. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick. Using snowflake biscuit cutters, cut shapes out of dough. Place on trays. Press leftover dough together and repeat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.
• Bake biscuits for 10 minutes, swapping trays after 5 minutes, or until light golden. Allow to cool on trays completely.** Dust with remaining sugar** just before serving.

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4 Cranberry Christmas Cake:

Cranberry Christmas Cake:This fruitilicious cake promises to be an absolute delight! It's probably going to be a little hard to make if you are a beginner. But get an experienced friend to help you out and your set to go!

Ingredients:

• 85g mixed peel
• 70g glace cherries, chopped
• 2 tbsp glace apricots, coarsely chopped
• 2 tbsp glace figs, coarsely chopped
• 150g dried currants
• 240g sultanas
• 185g butter, chopped
• 165g firmly packed brown sugar
• 120mL Grand Marnier
• 120mL orange juice
• 1 tbsp golden syrup
• 3 eggs at room temperature,lightly beaten
• 75g frozen cranberries, halved
• 185g plain flour
• 35g self-raising flour
• 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 100g blanched almonds

Method:

• Pre-heat oven 140C. Line base and sides of a deep 20cm round cake tin with three thicknesses of baking paper, extending paper 5cm above side.
• Combine fruit, butter, brown sugar, 80mL of Grand Marnier and orange juice in a medium saucepan and stir over low heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, remove from heat and cool.
• Transfer fruit mixture to a large bowl and add golden syrup and eggs. Stir to combine. Add cranberries and stir. Sift flours and bicarbonate of soda and add to fruit mixture. Stir well.
• Spoon mixture into cake tin, level top with a wet spatula and decorate with almonds. Bake in lower half of oven for about 2 hours or until cake is cooked. Cover cake loosely with foil during baking if it starts to brown too much.
• Remove from oven, brush top with remaining Grand Marnier, wrap tightly in foil, still in pan, and let it cool before serving. I love my slice with a generous helping of whipped cream!

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5 Egg Nog Panna Cotta:

Egg Nog Panna Cotta:This traditional Italian dessert, literally meaning “cooked cream” is an easy to make custard served cold.** Perfect for beginners!**

Ingredients:

• 1/4 cup (60ml) cold water
• 20g (2 sachets) powdered gelatine
• 2 1/2 cups (600ml) cream
• 1 1/4 cups (300ml) ready-made custard
• 1/3 cup (80ml) brandy
• 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice powder
• 2 tablespoons icing sugar mixture, sifted
• Peach and cherry compote
• 2 cups (500ml) water
• 1 cup (220g) sugar
• 3 teaspoons lemon juice
• 2 yellow peaches, cut into wedges
• 2 white peaches, cut into wedges
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice, extra
• 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen thawed cherries

Method:

• Place water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatine over the water and set aside for 5 minutes or until gelatine has set and is spongy.
• Place the cream, custard, brandy, mixed spice and icing sugar mixture in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved and mixture is well combined. Whisk if any lumps form.
• Once the custard mixture is hot (but not boiling), slowly add the gelatine mixture. Stir for 2-3 minutes or until the gelatine has fully dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour into a greased rectangular (5-cup capacity) tin. Cover and refrigerate for 5 hours or until set.

To make syrup:

• Place the water, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and add the peaches. Simmer for 1-2 minutes then remove the peaches with a slotted spoon. Set aside to cool slightly, then peel away the skin (reserve skin).
• Sprinkle peaches with extra lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
• Meanwhile, heat the syrup again, add the peach skins and increase heat to high. Simmer for 4-5 minutes or until the syrup has reduced and thickened slightly. Cover and chill completely.
• To serve, transfer the chilled panna cotta on to a large serving platter. Top with the peaches and cherries and drizzle with a little syrup.

6 Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti:

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti:The magic of chocolate and hazelnut come together in this **decadent dessert. **A must try!

Ingredients:

• 4 ounces (125 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
• 1 cup (215 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
• 1 3/4 (250 grams) cups all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa, preferably Dutch-processed
• 1 tablespoon (4 grams) instant espresso powder
• 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3 large eggs
• 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup (150 grams) hazelnuts (toasted and coarsely chopped)

Method:

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
• To toast hazelnuts: spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and the skins begin to flake. Remove from the oven and place nuts in a dish towel. Roll up the towel and let the nuts 'steam' for 5 minutes and then briskly rub the towel (with nuts inside) to remove the skins from the nuts. Cool and then chop coarsely. Set aside while you prepare the dough.
• Reduce temperature of oven to 300 degree F (150 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
• In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the coarsely chopped chocolate and brown sugar and process until the chocolate is very fine. Set aside.
• Sift or whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl; set aside. In the bowl of your electric mixer combine the eggs and vanilla extract and beat to blend for about 30 seconds. On low speed mix in the chocolate/sugar and flour mixtures until a stiff dough forms, adding the hazelnuts about half way through mixing.
• On a floured surface divide the dough in half. Form each half into a log 12 inches (30 cm) long. Do this by rolling the dough back and forth into a cylinder shape with floured hands. Transfer the logs to the baking sheet, spacing them well apart (width-wise on the pan), and pat to even the shapes. Bake until almost firm to the touch, about 35 - 40 minutes (logs will spread during baking). Remove from the oven, place on wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes.
• Using a long spatula transfer the logs to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife cut the dough into slices 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick on the diagonal. Arrange the slices cut-side down on the baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake until crisp and dry, about 15 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.
• These are even more wonderful with a white chocolate glaze: Melt 3 ounces (90 grams) of chopped white chocolate in a small metal bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Watch carefully as white chocolate can burn easily. Stir to melt. Dip one end of the biscotti into the chocolate and let it dry, on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
• Store in an airtight container for several weeks.

7 Red Velvet Cake:

Red Velvet Cake:I love this cake not only because it’s so bright and dramatic looking but also wonderfully rich and delicious. Perfect for Christmas!

Ingredients:

• 2 1/2 cups (250 grams) sifted cake flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons (15 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
• 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
• 2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
• 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
• 1 teaspoon baking soda

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

• 1 1/2 (360 ml) cups heavy whipping cream
• 1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
• 1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) tub of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
• 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup (115 grams) sugar (icing or powdered), sifted

Method:

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter two - 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
• In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
• In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
• In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
• In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.
• Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean.
• Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for at least an hour. (This is done to make filling and frosting the cakes easier.)

To make the cream cheese frosting:

• In your food processor, or with a hand mixer, process the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and process until smooth. Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl.
• Then, in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. With a large spatula, gently but quickly fold a little of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining whipped cream, in two stages. Cover and place the frosting in the refrigerator for an hour or two, or until it is firm enough to spread.

Assembling the cake:

• With a serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half, horizontally. You will now have four cake layers. Place one of the cake layers, top of the cake facing down, onto your serving platter. Spread the cake layer with a layer of frosting. Place another layer of cake on top of the frosting and continue to frost and stack the cake layers. Frost the top and sides of the cake. If you want, you can garnish the cake with sweetened or unsweetened coconut.

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8 Yule Log (Buche De Noel):

Yule Log (Buche De Noel):Traditionally served for Christmas in countries like France, Belgium, Lebanon and Quebec, this desert as its name suggests is prepared, decorated and presented to look like a** log ready for the fire.** It's definitely not the easiest to make but its so unique that I put it among the top must try desserts this Christmas!

Ingredients:

• 1/4 cup (50 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (28 grams) granulated white sugar
• 6 large eggs, separated
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 4 ounces (112 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped in small pieces
• 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 3 tablespoon (40 grams) granulated white sugar
• 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
• For garnish: Meringue Mushrooms

Method:

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with Pam, a 17 inch (43 cm) by 12 inch (30 cm) jelly roll pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and then butter and flour the paper (or spray with Baker's Joy). Set aside.
• While the eggs are still cold, separate the eggs, placing the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Cover with plastic wrap and bring to room temperature before using (takes about 30 minutes).
• Meanwhile melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Set aside.
• In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) place the egg yolks and 1/4 cup (50 grams) of sugar and beat until this mixture is light and fluffy (about five minutes). (When you slowly raise the beaters, the batter will fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon.) Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the melted chocolate and beat only to combine. Set aside while you beat the egg whites.
• In a clean mixing bowl, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of sugar until stiff peaks form.
• Gently fold a small amount of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture using a rubber spatula or whisk to lighten the batter. Fold in the remaining whites just until incorporated. Don't over mix or the batter will deflate. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan with an offset spatula. Bake until the cake is puffed, has lost its shine, and springs back when gently pressed, about 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Cover the cake with a clean, slightly damp towel.
• Chocolate Whipped Cream: In a large mixing bowl place the whipping cream, vanilla extract, sugar, and cocoa powder and stir to combine. Cover and chill the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator for at least one hour so the cocoa powder has time to dissolve. Beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.
• Once the cake has cooled, spread with the chocolate whipped cream (set 2 tablespoons aside) and then gently roll the cake, peeling off the parchment paper as you roll. The sponge cake will crack, and, in fact, this makes it look more like a real log. Trim one end of the cake at an angle and set it aside. Then place the sponge cake, seam side down, on your serving platter. Take the slice of reserved cake and, using the reserved whipped cream, attach it to the side of the sponge cake (to look like the end of a branch). Cover with plastic wrap and chill until serving time. Just before serving remove the cake from the refrigerator, dust with confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar (to resemble snow), and decorate with meringue mushrooms (if desired). You can also decorate the Yule Log with miniature pine cones and pine needles.

Promise me that you will try atleast one of these**fabulous recipes**. And don’t fret about the few extra pounds that you might pile on. It’s the season to be jolly afterall. Merry Christmas!!!

Also, if you are a chocolate fanatic, go ahead and read 50 Best Chocolate Desserts! There is something for every kind of chocolate lover on that list!

For more photos and recipes visit:www.taste.com.au, www.razzledazzlerecipes.com, joyofbaking.com

Top Photo Credit: **kmrphotography**

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