Fa-la-loving the Holidays!

Xmas Chocolate Bark 2 arr

Christmas and dessert – need I say more? Didn’t think so!

Made for ‘happier holidays,’ a dessert’s table is what I have in mind to fuel a festive evening get-together and one tastier way to end a fab meal. Being sure to create something for everyone, here’s what I include: artisan-inspired chocolate bark, coconut macaroons, buttery shortbread and gingerbread cookies, and orange-raspberry trifle. Clearly baking up plentiful of all that is flavourful and delectable, nothing spells out “holly” and “jolly” more than a sweet buffet of treats. And, if getting on Santa’s ‘nice list’ is your aim, I got you covered!

Xmas Chocolate Bark 1 arrLet’s bake! Starting with a trusted basic shortbread recipe, I double up the ‘necessities’ – flour, salt, sugar, butter and vanilla – and divide the cookie dough. Humble as-is in its original form, the possibilities are endless when it comes to enhancing shortbread. Letting your imagination run wild, simply take any shortbread instruction and add dried fruits and/or nuts of choice. As for my interpretation on a classic, I prepare the following: crystallized ginger stars, pistachio and dried cranberries, nutty almond rounds, fragrant earl grey discs, and lemon and lavender.

Xmas Shortbread Cookies 1 arrPursuing a bright Christmas, the citrus and perfumed profiles found in the lemon and lavender duo remains a surprisingly good pairing. Vibrant and earthy, this combination was so tempting that they didn’t last to see the day – “picture day,” that is!

Sorry, but not sorry?! Really, I wish I saved at least one example of this ‘beauty’ to display, but lesson learned: cookie monsters exist, and doubling up batches are a must. Ultimately falling short of quantity, there’s no doubt there’s something good to be said about melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies enhanced by tea or flowers. Definitely worth remaking, just be mindful that a little goes a long way when using matcha, finely processed hibiscus tea or other varied floral blends.

Xmas Coconut Macaroons 1 arrMoving on to the next, gingerbread is an all-time wintry favourite. Preferring a naked cookie over a decorated one – no icing, sprinkles or dragées – simplicity found in an undressed molasses and spice cookie is truly my kind of wonderful. Appreciating the nuanced taste of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger, this cookie dough is a breeze to make and just as easy to roll out. Better yet, my “go-to” recipe – courtesy of Martha Stewart – yields delightfully soft gingerbread cookies that will remain such even post baking and cooling periods.

Warm spiced cookies and classic shortbread complete, I pay homage to a white Christmas with the making coconut macaroons. Love it or not, luckily I do! So much so, in fact, that I take a plain recipe and transform these snowy mounds with chocolate. Using milk, dark or white chocolate, melt premium quality of your preferred cocoa over a double-boiler and let magic happen: drizzle, coat, dip and set. This two-bite cookie is so simple to make, and easier to alter that if you only have time to make one cookie, I recommend coconut macaroons.

Xmas Orange Raspberry Trifle arrSaving the best for last, homemade trifle is the proper way to end a triumphant meal. F.Y.I.: you can bake two loaves of orange pound cake in advance and assemble this showstopping dessert the day of – ‘et voilà,’ you’re well on your way to a stress-free holiday dessert. Adhering to Ina Garten’s recipe for this indulgence, I get my ingredients and layer flavours via raspberry jam, orange custard, fresh berries, and sweetened whipped cream. Well worth the time and effort, sharing good food with good company goes hand in hand. On that note, Happy Christmas to you and yours – and to all good eats, cheers!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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Pudding It Out There

Liquid sunshine, anyone? Once in a while, a baker will come across excess yolks – probably having whipped up a whites-based dessert like meringues, angel food cake and the sort. Finding myself in a similar predicament, a bowl of golden yolks and perfect timing leaves me with the ideal March-inspired treat. Celebrating with high spirits, Baileys Chocolate Pudding was made for St. Paddy’s Day festivities.Baileys Chocolate Pudding 3 arr

Combining my favourite ingredient – undoubtedly chocolate – with a very special Irish Cream, you really can’t go wrong with the complementary pairing of the aforementioned duo. Rich, chocolatey and infused with a hint of an old country export, homemade pudding is something else: it’s elevated nostalgia. Clearly, a must-indulge item in my books!

Baileys Chocolate Pudding 2 arrTo make your own holiday pudding, choose a scratch recipe of choice. Following the steps of the Barefoot Contessa – Ms. Ina Garten, of course – I really enjoyed following her simple instructions for a double chocolate pudding. Doing things my way, however, I take her very good recipe and tweak it to cater to my preferences. Specifically, I had nine yolks to start though the original recipe calls for six. Presented with three more than less of what’s required, I still count myself lucky. Glass bowl looking beyond half-full, circumstance is boding well and, so, I persist to do as any good baker would – I sharpen my math skills. In other words, I take note of the existing quantities and appropriately increase measured amounts for all remaining ingredients, including: sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt, milk, heavy cream, pure vanilla essence and fine quality chocolate. Though Ina’s original calls for butter and semisweet chocolate, I omit the butter altogether and use premium dark chocolate – minimum 70% cocoa.

Baileys Chocolate Pudding 4 arrFortunately, the outcome of this cocoa-rich indulgence is nothing short of pure decadence. And, although I-rish I could stop at the making of double chocolate pudding, a must-indulge St. Paddy’s dessert must-have a little touch of Shamrock. As for the final touches, then, I keep with precision and happily exchange the plain heavy cream with an addition of Baileys Original Irish Cream. From here, the well-mixed pudding mixture is poured into individual dessert dishes and refrigerated. Ultra delicious and made for chocophiles, serving chilled portions of Baileys Chocolate Pudding on its own – as-is – or topped with sweetened whipped cream will surely yield happy hours to come. Ultimately ‘pudding’ a spin on a classic, this crowd-pleasing custard is meant to be shared and savoured responsibly – please, use a spoon! Happy Saint Patrick’s, everyone!!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.