A Christ­mas com­pen­dium

With hordes of fam­ily and friends to en­ter­tain at Christ­mas, be it at meal­times or mid­night feasts, this as­sort­ment of sweet treats, cakes, pud­dings and pies is ex­actly what you need up your sleeve

The Guardian - Cook - - Twelve Puddings Of Christmas - Jeremy Lee is the chef­pro­pri­etor of Quo Vadis res­tau­rant in London; @jere­myleeqv

Mum pointed to a cup­board where she’d stashed even more ‘emer­gency ra­tions for just in case’

The yule­tide cook has quite a lot of kitchen chore­og­ra­phy to per­form, over many days, to feed the de­scend­ing hordes of fam­ily and friends. So hav­ing a great store of de­li­cious things at the ready is a good idea. The wise cook needs all man­ner of ideas for treats up their sleeve – not just for meal­times but also for snacks be­fore mid­night mass, at af­ter­noon tea, for af­ter-din­ner movies …

Some­thing I learned from my par­ents grow­ing up is that con­jur­ing as much the­atri­cal jol­lity as can be is es­sen­tial – the big­gest show be­ing, of course, a ta­ble laid with a lot of love.

One vivid mem­ory is of a great ta­ble of pol­ished oak in our din­ing room, piled high with or­anges and clemen­tines, Mum be­ing no­to­ri­ous for panic-buy­ing cit­rus fruits. Another is the huge ar­ray of my mother’s ex­tra­or­di­nary bak­ing for the Christ­mas hols, sur­rounded by Christ­mas lights and can­dles and all man­ner of fes­tive thingum­myjigs. Es­pe­cially cakes – and lots of them. One year I counted seven, and pointed out to Mum that we were only a fam­ily of six. Mum pointed to a cup­board where tins with more bis­cuits and cakes were piled high, and then, laugh­ing mer­rily, pointed to the freezer, where she’d stashed even more “emer­gency ra­tions for just in case”.

Th­ese bakes were all so good. When think­ing of 12 pud­dings for Christ­mas, I tried to think of all the great clas­sics that many peo­ple might en­joy. At the out­set of the fes­tive sea­son, Mum would plun­der the book­shelves for all her favourite recipes, and the pile of books by El­iz­a­beth David, Jane Grig­son, Clau­dia Ro­den and many more re­mained, through­out De­cem­ber, by the stool Mum al­ways sat upon at the counter in the kitchen. The list of books I con­sult now are pretty sim­i­lar, and I’ve called on them all to com­pile this list.

An old favourite of Mum’s was a recipe by 80s TV chef Michael Smith. It was a great mince­meat meringue tart that be­gan life as a “Royal Pye”. Mince­meat is sat upon frangi­pane topped with caramelised pears, then heaped with meringue and baked crisp – it makes as good a show as it does a pud­ding.

More re­cent de­lights come from the two women who pro­duce the beau­ti­ful Canal House books: Christo­pher Hir­sheimer and Melissa Hamil­ton – a spe­cial pair. They once in­vited me to Canal House for Thanks­giv­ing and the two days I spent with them eat­ing and drink­ing have be­come in­deli­bly im­printed on my mem­ory. Their Christ­mas recipes are as splen­did as their Thanks­giv­ing fare: I’ve homed in on their bûche de Noël and on their cur­rant gin­ger cakes, to have with a fine cup of tea af­ter a walk in the cold win­ter air. You could also add to your teatime ar­ray the de­light­ful or­ange and fen­nel bis­cuits and the ex­cel­lent cho­co­late or­ange tart be­low.

There are lit­tle pas­tries, too, to be kept in the freezer and pulled out at a mo­ment’s no­tice to bake fresh and to scoff when a great film is start­ing on TV. I’ve in­cluded lovely ravi­oli San Giuseppe, which I first cooked at Alas­tair Lit­tle’s res­tau­rant; cle­men­tine curd tarts (the curd for which you will want to make dou­ble quan­ti­ties of, for deca­dent fes­tive break­fasts); and lit­tle cho­co­late turnovers.

I have a great fond­ness for good dried fruits. Figs – par­tic­u­larly the very soft ones from Italy; prunes – those peer­less glo­ries from Agen in France; apri­cots in ev­ery form, all of which – when sim­mered and poached with pears in a spiced syrup – make for a restora­tive win­ter fruit salad.

And never for­get the cook’s perk when the troops are out and a brief calm de­scends ... Yes, a slice of cake – in this in­stance, a spiced up­side-down pear cake, to be en­joyed in a mo­ment of quiet in the kitchen.

Lastly are the pud­dings: a cho­co­late tri­fle and a creme caramel – a sooth­ing, cool­ing cus­tardy re­spite from all the cakes and pies.

And there we have it: a dozen lit­tle ways to make merry the days of hol­i­day, folk and fam­ily, at ta­ble and by the fire­side – the merry 12 days of Christ­mas.

1 Lit­tle cho­co­late turnovers

Th­ese pas­tries are best served still warm from the oven, so make them on the day.

Makes 16

2 sheets frozen puff pas­try Flour for rolling 125g dark cho­co­late (70% co­coa), bro­ken into 16 pieces, roughly tri­an­gu­lar in shape 200ml dou­ble cream Cream and caster sugar, to serve

1 Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line a bak­ing tray with parch­ment. Roll out the pas­try on a lightly floured sur­face. Cut the pas­try into 16 6cm-wide squares.

2 Lay a tri­an­gle of cho­co­late just in­side one of the cor­ners of the pas­try square. Brush the edges of the pas­try with a lit­tle cream. Fold the pas­try in half di­ag­o­nally over the cho­co­late, mak­ing a tri­an­gu­lar turnover. Re­peat with the re­main­ing squares and ar­range the turnovers on the pre­pared bak­ing tray at least 3cm apart.

3 Brush them with cream and put the tray in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour be­fore bak­ing.

4 Bake for about 5 min­utes, then check the colour – if al­ready golden, re­duce to 180C or even 160C if the oven is of an en­thu­si­as­tic na­ture, and bake for a fur­ther 5-7 min­utes. They should be puffed and golden. Cool slightly. Serve with cream and caster sugar.

2 Mince­meat meringue tart

Should the spirit be will­ing, mak­ing mince­meat is a lovely job done early on in De­cem­ber – you could even make a large batch, and keep any left­overs for next year. Make the pas­try the night be­fore you need the tart, or, al­ter­na­tively, up to a week be­fore and freeze it. A visit to the su­per­mar­ket for golden sug­ared al­monds and can­died mint leaves is al­ways worth­while to jolly along a Christ­mas pie. You will need a 23cm-round tart tin.

Serves 12

For the mince­meat 6 ap­ples, brae­burn, cox’s or sim­i­lar Juice and zest of 1 le­mon

Juice and zest of 1 or­ange

A 370g mix of cur­rants, raisins, sul­tanas, dried figs and apri­cots, chopped into small pieces

75g mar­cona al­monds, chopped finely 225g dark brown mus­co­v­ado sugar 225g shred­ded suet

1 heaped tsp ground cin­na­mon

½ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground mace

¼ tsp ground nut­meg

A jig­ger of madeira

For the pas­try

130g cold un­salted but­ter 250g plain flour, sifted 15g caster sugar 1 egg yolk 2 tbsp ice-cold wa­ter

For the frangi­pane

50g un­salted but­ter, soft­ened

25g caster sugar 1 egg 50g ground al­monds

For the pears

4 medium-size pears Juice of 1 le­mon 50g caster sugar

For the meringue

4 large egg whites 250g caster sugar

To dec­o­rate (op­tional)

Golden sug­ared al­monds Can­died mint leaves

1 To make the mince­meat, peel and core the ap­ples, cut them into small ran­domly shaped pieces and toss in the le­mon and or­ange juice to avoid brown­ing. Com­bine with the re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents in a large bowl and mix well. De­cant into a sealed con­tainer and keep un­til needed.

2 To make the pas­try, cut the but­ter into small pieces and tip into a large bowl with the flour and sugar. Mix to­gether to a fine crumb. Add the egg yolk and a lit­tle wa­ter. Gen­tly work into a dough. Tip out on to a floured sur­face and knead gen­tly un­til smooth. Form into a rough disc, cover and re­frig­er­ate for at least an hour.

3 To make the frangi­pane, put the but­ter and sugar in a bowl and beat for a minute. Add the egg, beat again for a minute then stir in the ground al­monds.

4 When ready to bake, roll out the pas­try on a lightly floured sur­face. Lift it up and swiftly drape the pas­try on the tart tin, press­ing gen­tly un­til fit­ted snugly within. Re­frig­er­ate.

5 To pre­pare the pears, peel and core them, then chop into small ran­domly shaped pieces and toss in the le­mon juice to avoid brown­ing. Put a pan on a medium heat and add the sugar. Let the sugar be­gin to colour and start swirling the pan un­til the sugar has caramelised. Tip in the chopped pear dressed in the le­mon juice. Take care as the sugar will sput­ter. Toss the chopped pear in the caramel and cook un­til it soft­ens. Set aside to cool.

6 Pre­heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. To as­sem­ble the tart, roughly spread the frangi­pane on the bot­tom of the pas­try case. Strew with the pears then heap on enough mince­meat to just fill the tart. Put this in the fridge to set­tle.

7 Put the tart in the pre­heated oven and cook for 10 min­utes, then re­duce the tem­per­a­ture to 160C/325F/gas mark 3 for a fur­ther 50 min­utes. Re­move the tart from the oven and let it cool slightly on a rack. Lower the oven tem­per­a­ture to 120C/250F/gas low.

8 To make the meringue, in a clean bowl, whip the egg whites into stiff peaks. Beat in half of the sugar un­til stiff peaks ap­pear once more. Re­peat with the rest of the sugar. With bold strokes, heap the meringue on the tart, cre­at­ing a riot of swirls.

9 Pop it back in the oven and bake for 25-30 min­utes un­til golden and crusted, with a fis­sure here and there.

10 Dec­o­rate with golden sug­ared al­monds and can­died mint leaves, if us­ing, and serve.

3 Creme caramel

Best made the day be­fore you need it to give the dessert time to set suf­fi­ciently.

Serves 12

1 litre of milk

175g plus 2 tbsp caster sugar

1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped A strip of or­ange zest

3 whole eggs, plus 7 egg yolks

1 Pre­heat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Have ready a ceramic or me­tal mould, roughly 28cm wide, 5cm deep.

2 Heat the milk in a heavy-bot­tomed pan. Add the 2 tbsp sugar, the vanilla seeds and the strip of or­ange zest. Heat this gen­tly un­til merely a wisp of steam rises from the sur­face.

3 In a large bowl, beat to­gether the whole eggs, then add the egg yolks. Slowly pour the milk on to the eggs, stir­ring gen­tly with a wooden spoon, keep­ing any froth to a min­i­mum. Let it stand for while, then pour the warm cus­tard through a fine sieve. Spoon away any foam sit­ting on the sur­face.

4 Put the 175g caster sugar into a stain­less steel saucepan over a moder­ate heat and gen­tly tilt the pan to keep the sugar on the move as it liq­ue­fies and turns to caramel. You want a rich ma­hogany hue; any darker and a bit­ter note will be in­tro­duced. Swiftly pour the caramel into the mould. Hold­ing the mould with a cloth in each hand, and ex­er­cis­ing great care, cau­tiously swirl the caramel

Should the spirit be will­ing, mak­ing mince­meat is a lovely job done early in De­cem­ber

around the bot­tom of the mould un­til it is evenly cov­ered. Let this set, which will hap­pen swiftly.

5 Put the mould in a deep oven tray. Pour the cus­tard into the mould then put the tray in the mid­dle of the oven. Pour enough hot wa­ter into the tray to bring the level up to a few cen­time­tres short of the sur­face of the cus­tard.

6 Bake at 150C/300F/gas mark 2 for 5 min­utes, then re­duce the tem­per­a­ture to 120C/250F/gas low for 50-60 min­utes, turn­ing oc­ca­sion­ally for even cook­ing. Check ev­ery 10 min­utes or so to en­sure there is no colour­ing or sim­mer­ing wa­ter to cause bub­bles in the cus­tard. Test that it’s done by in­sert­ing a sharp knife into the mid­dle – it should come out clean. A lit­tle wob­ble is good. With the ut­most cau­tion, re­move the tray from the oven and let the cus­tard sit for 10 min­utes. Re­move the mould from the tray, let it cool, then re­frig­er­ate – overnight is best.

7 To serve, gen­tly press down around the edge of the cus­tard, then run a sharp knife around it. Put a deep plate on top of the mould, and in one fluid mo­tion, swiftly flip the creme caramel. Wait for the plop, shak­ing a lit­tle if nec­es­sary be­fore lift­ing the mould.

4 Or­ange and fen­nel bis­cuits

Th­ese can be stored – though it has never been tested, as they have al­ways been scoffed be­fore the day was out.

Makes about 30

230g but­ter, at room tem­per­a­ture 50g caster sugar 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk Zest of 1 large or­ange 2 tsp fen­nel seeds, 1 tsp ground and 1 tsp coarsely chopped 260g “00” or plain flour, sifted 2 tsp sea salt

1 Put the but­ter, sugar and vanilla seeds into a bowl and beat thor­oughly un­til pale and fluffy.

2 Beat the egg and egg yolk in a small bowl, then slowly add th­ese to the but­ter and sugar. Add the or­ange zest, ground fen­nel seeds and flour, beat­ing it all to­gether swiftly un­til smooth un­til a dough is formed.

3 Cut the dough into three pieces and put each on a piece of bak­ing parch­ment. Roll the pa­per up and then twist each end tightly as for a Christ­mas cracker. Re­frig­er­ate for 30 min­utes. The dough will keep for a few days if need be, and freezes well too.

4 Pre­heat the oven to 180C/350F/ gas mark 4. Line a bak­ing tray with parch­ment.

5 Un­ravel the cracker and sit the roll of dough on a board. Cut slices the thick­ness of a pen­cil and lay in rows, quite well apart, on the bak­ing parch­ment. Put a tiny heap of chopped fen­nel seeds in the mid­dle of each bis­cuit. Press down slightly.

6 Bake for 10 min­utes. The tray may need turn­ing to en­sure even cook­ing. Re­move from the oven and cool.

5 Cle­men­tine curd tarts

Both the pas­try and the curd keep well in the fridge for a few days. The for­mer can also be made the week be­fore and frozen, while mak­ing a dou­ble por­tion of the curd will give you enough for a break­fast treat over the hol­i­days. The tarts them­selves, though, are best cooked fresh.

Makes 20-24 For the pas­try

500g plain white flour 100g ic­ing sugar

A pinch of salt

300g cold un­salted but­ter 1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks 1 tbsp ice-cold wa­ter

For the curd

2 large eggs 180g caster sugar Juice and zest of 6 clemen­tines Juice and zest of 2 small lemons 115g un­salted but­ter

To serve

Jersey cream 24 whole al­monds, blanched, peeled and roasted

1 To make the pas­try, sift the flour, ic­ing sugar and salt into a bowl. Cut the but­ter into small pieces and swiftly work it into the flour mix un­til a fine crumb re­sults. Beat the egg and egg yolks to­gether with the ice-cold wa­ter and add to the crumb. Mix to­gether un­til a dough forms.

2 Tip the dough on to a sur­face and gen­tly knead un­til smooth. Roll the pas­try into a ball. Cut the ball in two and flat­ten each piece into a rough disc. Wrap each disc in cling­film and re­frig­er­ate.

3 To make the curd, half-fill a pan with wa­ter and bring to the boil.

4 Crack the eggs into a bowl, beat in the sugar, add the zest of the clemen­tines and lemons and mix to­gether well. Cut the but­ter into small pieces and add to the bowl, then mix in the juices.

5 Place the bowl over the pan, mak­ing sure it doesn’t touch the wa­ter and re­duce to a sim­mer. Stir the mix­ture un­til the but­ter melts then keep stir­ring as the curd thick­ens. Cook this for about 20 min­utes. The curd should be quite thick but not so a spoon can stand up in it. Once done, tip the curd into a clean bowl, cover and cool. Re­frig­er­ate un­til re­quired. 6 Roll out one of the rounds of pas­try thinly on a lightly floured board. Cut out discs of the pas­try to fit each one of the moulds in a muf­fin tin. Con­tinue un­til you have 20-24 tart cases. Re­frig­er­ate.

7 Cut out lit­tle discs of bak­ing parch­ment and line each pas­try case. Fill each with beans or rice – some­thing sturdy enough to keep them from ris­ing. Bake for 15-20 min­utes un­til golden. Re­move from the oven and al­low to cool slightly. With care, re­move the filled pa­per discs. Re­turn the tin to the oven and cook for a fur­ther minute. Re­move and cool.

8 Ar­range the tart cases on a large serv­ing plate or tray. Fill the tarts half way with the curd. Add lit­tle blobs of jersey cream. Sit a whole roast al­mond on top.

6 Cur­rant gin­ger cakes

Th­ese won­der­ful bis­cuits are from Canal House. This recipe will make plenty, and there may be some dough left over for freez­ing.

Makes about 30

570g plain white flour

4 tsp bi­car­bon­ate of soda 2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground gin­ger

1 tsp ground cin­na­mon

½ tsp ground cloves 335g un­salted but­ter 335g gran­u­lated sugar 250g dark mus­co­v­ado sugar 2 eggs

170g mo­lasses

525g cur­rants

1 Pre­heat the oven 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Line two oven trays with bak­ing parch­ment.

2 Put a sieve over a large mix­ing bowl. Into this tip the flour, bi­car­bon­ate of soda, salt, gin­ger, cin­na­mon and cloves.

3 Put the but­ter, 200g each of the gran­u­lated sugar and the mus­co­v­ado sugar in another bowl. Beat to­gether un­til pale and vo­lu­mi­nous.

4 Beat the eggs in a small bowl and slowly add to the sugar mix a lit­tle at a time. Gen­tly add the mo­lasses and beat un­til smooth. Swiftly beat in the spiced flour, stir­ring well, then add the cur­rants in one fi­nal thor­ough mix.

5 Roll the dough into a rough ball, cover and re­frig­er­ate for at least half an hour, or even bet­ter, overnight.

6 Put the re­main­ing gran­u­lated and mus­co­v­ado su­gars in a bowl. Break off wal­nut-size pieces of dough and roll into balls. Roll the balls in the su­gars.

7 Put the balls 2-3cm apart on the bak­ing sheet. Bake un­til cracked on top and browned on the bot­tom – about 8-10 min­utes. Cool the cook­ies on a rack be­fore serv­ing.

Th­ese bis­cuits can be stored – though it has never been tested, as they have al­ways been scoffed be­fore the day was out

7 Cho­co­late, gin­ger and or­ange tart

You will need a 23cm-round tart tin for this.

Serves 10-12

80ml 175g dou­ble milk cream 250g dark cho­co­late (70% co­coa) 1 large egg, beaten Zest of 1 or­ange 6 pieces of crys­tallised gin­ger in syrup Jersey cream, to serve

For the pas­try

130g cold un­salted but­ter 250g plain flour, sifted 15g caster sugar 1 egg yolk 2 tbsp ice-cold wa­ter

1 Pre­heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Mean­while, make the pas­try. Cut the but­ter into small pieces and tip into a large bowl with the flour and the caster sugar. Work into a fine crumb. Mix the egg yolk with the wa­ter in a small bowl, then add a lit­tle at a time to the flour. Gen­tly work into a dough. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured sur­face and knead gen­tly un­til smooth. Form into a disc, cover and re­frig­er­ate for at least an hour.

2 Roll out the dough and place it over the tart tin to line it, trim­ming the edges. Cover with bak­ing parch­ment and fill with beans or rice. Put the pas­try case in the oven and lower the tem­per­a­ture to 160C/325F/gas mark 3 and bake un­til golden brown – roughly 10-20 min­utes, to colour the pas­try. Re­move from the oven and lift out the parch­ment with the beans or rice. Re­turn the pas­try case to the oven for a few min­utes.

3 Put the milk and cream in a pot and bring to a boil. Re­move from the heat. Break the cho­co­late into the cream and stir un­til fully melted. Let this cool slightly, then beat in the egg and stir un­til smooth.

4 Add the or­ange zest to the cho­co­late cream. Chop the gin­ger into very small pieces and mix half into the cho­co­late cream. Pour the fill­ing into the pas­try case. Bake the tart un­til it is barely set, with a wob­ble still at the cen­tre – about 12-15 min­utes. Keep a beady eye on this, mov­ing the tart round so it cooks evenly. Re­move from the oven and let it cool.

5 When the tart is cooled, gen­tly add the tiny shards of re­main­ing gin­ger around the edge of the tart. Serve with jersey cream.

8 Spiced up­side-down pear cake

This per­forms might­ily well as a pud­ding, and makes ex­cel­lent emer­gency ra­tions for a quick sugar fix.

Serves 10-12

Juice and zest of 1 le­mon

3 ripe pears

85g un­salted but­ter

50g dark mus­co­v­ado sugar

2 pinches of salt

125g plain flour

1 tsp bak­ing pow­der

2 tsp ground gin­ger

½ tsp ground cin­na­mon

½ tsp ground mace

½ tsp ground all­spice

125ml whole milk

2 eggs

160g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped 5 pieces of crys­tallised gin­ger, sliced Cream, ice-cream and cus­tard, to serve

1 Pre­heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Line a 23cm cake tin with grease­proof pa­per.

2 Put the le­mon juice into a large bowl. Peel the pears, halve or quar­ter them if on the large size, core them and toss in the le­mon juice.

3 In a small pan, melt 40g of the but­ter. Add the mus­co­v­ado sugar and a pinch of salt. Mix this well and spread evenly over the bot­tom of the lined cake tin.

4 Ar­range the pear halves, cut side up, tips fac­ing to­wards the cen­tre, in the sugar on the bot­tom of the cake tin.

Re­serve the le­mon juice for later.

5 Sift to­gether the flour, bak­ing pow­der, spices and a pinch of salt.

6 In a small pan, bring the milk to a near boil over a medium heat. Add the re­main­ing but­ter, let it melt in the milk and keep it warm.

7 Beat the eggs in a bowl un­til pale and vo­lu­mi­nous. Add the caster sugar and vanilla seeds, beat­ing vig­or­ously. Blend in the flour mix­ture, then stir in the warm milk and but­ter. Add the le­mon zest and juice, the sliced gin­ger and any syrup ad­her­ing, and mix. Pour the cake bat­ter over the pears.

8 Bake for 40-45 min­utes un­til golden, check­ing if the cake is done by in­sert­ing a skewer or a sharp knife.

9 Serve warm with cream, ice-cream and cus­tard too, if at hand.

9 Ravi­oli san giuseppe

This fill­ing is good made sev­eral days in ad­vance.

Makes about 20 For the dough 440g “00” grade plain flour 260g cold un­salted but­ter Zest of 1 le­mon (re­serve the juice for the fill­ing)

½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped 100g caster sugar

2 eggs

For the fill­ing

300g peeled and cored ap­ple, tossed in the juice of the le­mon

150g caster sugar

300g dates, stoned

250g agen prunes, stoned

60g pine nuts

60g cur­rants

To serve

Sugar, for dust­ing Cream, ice-cream, cus­tard

1 To make the pas­try, sift the flour into a bowl. Cut the but­ter into small pieces and add to the flour. Add the le­mon zest and the vanilla and mix un­til it is ren­dered into a fine crumb. Add the sugar. Beat the eggs, add to the crumb and mix un­til it forms a dough. Tip out on to a work sur­face and knead lightly un­til a smooth dough forms. Roll into a ball, cover and re­frig­er­ate. This keeps well for sev­eral days.

2 To make the fill­ing, chop the peeled, cored ap­ples into small pieces. Put th­ese, the sugar and 100ml wa­ter in a pan and cook gen­tly over a moder­ate heat un­til the ap­ple is coloured a pale caramel. Chop the dates and prunes finely then add to the ap­ples, along with the pine nuts and cur­rants. Cook th­ese to­gether over a gen­tle heat for 10 min­utes. Re­move the pan from the heat and al­low to cool.

3 To as­sem­ble, roll out the pas­try on a lightly floured board. Cut out discs about 5cm in di­am­e­ter. Put 1 small tsp fruit mix in the cen­tre of each one. With care, fold each disc over and gen­tly press down along the edges to seal in the fill­ing to form the ravi­oli. Con­tinue un­til all are done. Put the ravi­oli on a tray and put in the fridge to cool. They can be cov­ered and will keep well overnight.

4 Pre­heat the oven to 180C/350F/ gas mark 4. Ar­range the ravi­oli a few cen­time­tres apart on a bak­ing tray and put in the oven. Af­ter 4-5 min­utes, re­move the tray, flip the ravi­oli and re­turn to the oven to colour lightly on the other side for 2 min­utes. Re­move from the oven. Ar­range on a serv­ing dish, per­haps dusted lightly with sugar. Cream, ice-cream or cus­tard are all wel­come, or all three to­gether … just a thought.

It per­forms well as a pud­ding and makes ex­cel­lent emer­gency ra­tions for a quick sugar fix

10 Cho­co­late tri­fle

In homage to Antonio Car­luc­cio, the au­thor of this im­pres­sive pick-me-up.

Serves 12-15 For the cake

90g dark cho­co­late (70% co­coa) 2 tbsp espresso cof­fee

60g un­salted but­ter, soft­ened 3 eggs, sep­a­rated

50g plus 1 tbsp caster sugar A pinch of salt

50g plain flour, sifted

For the cream

2 eggs, sep­a­rated 50g plus 1 tsp caster sugar 400g mas­car­pone 80ml dou­ble cream

To as­sem­ble

400ml espresso cof­fee 4 tbsp co­gnac Bit­ter co­coa pow­der 125g dark cho­co­late (70% co­coa)

1 Pre­heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Line a 23cm cake tin with bak­ing parch­ment.

2 Set a pan of wa­ter to boil. Break the cho­co­late into a bowl and add the cof­fee. Sit the bowl on the pan, mak­ing sure it doesn’t touch the wa­ter. Lower to a sim­mer and melt the cho­co­late. Re­move from the heat. Beat in the but­ter a lit­tle at a time un­til smooth.

3 Put the egg yolks in a bowl with the 50g sugar and beat un­til pale and fluffy.

4 Put the egg whites in another bowl, add a pinch of salt and beat un­til peaked. Add the 1 tbsp sugar and re­turn the whites to a peak.

5 Mix to­gether the egg yolk and the cho­co­late mix­tures. Spoon a third of the egg whites into the cho­co­late and mix lightly but well. Fold in another third of the egg white, add half the flour and mix. Add the re­main­ing egg white and flour and mix thor­oughly.

6 Pour the bat­ter into the pre­pared cake tin and bake for about 30 min­utes. Cool on a rack.

7 Mean­while, make the cream. Beat the egg yolks and the 50g sugar in a bowl un­til pale and fluffy. Add the mas­car­pone a spoon at a time un­til smooth. Stir in the cream. In a sep­a­rate bowl, beat the egg whites un­til peaked, add the 1 tsp of sugar, then fold this into the cream.

8 To as­sem­ble, cover the bot­tom of a tri­fle bowl with slices of the cho­co­late cake. Spoon over the cof­fee then the co­gnac. Dust with a lit­tle sifted co­coa pow­der. Strew with the bro­ken cho­co­late. Tip in the cream and smooth the sur­face. Dust with more co­coa. Cover and re­frig­er­ate overnight. When serv­ing, the tri­fle may need an ex­tra flour­ish of freshly sifted co­coa.

11 A win­ter’s poached fruit salad

The re­sult­ing syrup from this salad is good chilled and added to cham­pagne for a rather cav­a­lier ver­sion of a pousse rapière. It is worth mak­ing a day or two in ad­vance to al­low all the flavours to min­gle.

Serves 6

1 le­mon 6 pears 200ml white wine 200g caster sugar 1 vanilla pod 2 bay leaves 10 black pep­per­corns A blade of mace 12 plump agen prunes, stones in 12 dried apri­cots, un­sul­phurised 12 dried figs Jersey cream or Greek yo­ghurt, to serve

1 Peel strips off the le­mon as for a mar­tini, then squeeze the juice into a bowl. Peel the pears and toss them in the le­mon juice.

2 Put 30ml wa­ter and the wine, sugar, vanilla pod, bay, pep­per­corns and mace into a pan. Bring to a boil on a high heat. Add the pears, le­mon juice and peel.

3 Cut a disc of bak­ing parch­ment to fit the pot and lay on the sur­face to en­sure the pears are sub­merged. A plate on top might help. Lower the heat to a sim­mer and poach the pears gen­tly un­til quite cooked through. The time will de­pend on the ripeness of the pears and may take 30-50 min­utes. The pears are done when a knife in­serted is given no re­sis­tance from the pears.

4 Add the prunes, apri­cots and figs, bring back to the boil for 30 sec­onds then re­move the pan from the heat and let the fruit steep while it cools.

5 Once cooled, gen­tly re­move the poached fruits to a serv­ing bowl and pour over the syrup un­strained.

6 Store in a cool place un­til ready to serve with cream or Greek yo­ghurt.

12 Bûche de Noël (on the cover)

This re­ally is bet­ter made at home. And it’s use­ful to have a sugar ther­mome­ter when mak­ing it.

Serves 14-16 For the cho­co­late ic­ing

300g dark cho­co­late (70% co­coa) 120g un­salted but­ter 150ml dou­ble cream

For the roulade

400g dark cho­co­late (70% co­coa) 480ml dou­ble cream Half a vanilla pod, seeds scraped ¼ tsp ground cin­na­mon 9 egg whites 2 tbsp caster sugar

For the fill­ing

200g dark cho­co­late (70% co­coa) 5 tbsp wa­ter

6 egg yolks

3 tbsp caster sugar

325g un­salted but­ter, soft­ened Jersey or whipped cream, to serve

1 To make the ic­ing, bring a small pan of wa­ter to the boil. Put the cho­co­late and but­ter to­gether in a bowl and put it over the pan mak­ing sure it doesn’t touch the wa­ter. Re­duce to a sim­mer, and let the cho­co­late and but­ter melt, whisk­ing of­ten. Re­move from the heat. Whisk in the dou­ble cream and cover with cling­film. Stab the film a few times with a knife to let out any resid­ual warmth. Leave to one side.

2 Pre­heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and line a large oven tray with bak­ing parch­ment.

3 To make the roulade, break the cho­co­late into a large bowl. Heat the cream in a heavy-bot­tomed pan un­til hot, and stir in the vanilla seeds and the cin­na­mon. Pour the cream on to the cho­co­late and whisk un­til smooth. Set aside to cool.

4 Put the egg whites in a bowl, add the caster sugar and beat un­til peaked. Add the egg whites to the cho­co­late in three stages, each time mix­ing well. Tip the bat­ter on to the bak­ing parch­ment and spread it out. Bake for 10 min­utes or so un­til a knife in­serted comes out clean.

5 For the fill­ing, put a pan of wa­ter on to boil. Put the cho­co­late and 2 tbsp wa­ter into a bowl, set it over the pan mak­ing sure it doesn’t touch the wa­ter. Lower the heat to a sim­mer. Stir un­til the cho­co­late has melted. Re­move from the heat and leave to cool.

6 Put the sugar and 3 tbsp wa­ter into a pan over a medium heat. Swirl the pan al­low­ing the sugar to dis­solve. Let it boil for 4-5 min­utes un­til just be­fore be­com­ing caramel – or when it reaches 236C/455F, if us­ing a sugar ther­mome­ter. Re­move from the heat.

7 Whisk the egg yolks on a low speed, gen­tly adding the syrup un­til the mix­ture cools. Add a slice of but­ter at a time, beat­ing thor­oughly all the while. Carry on beat­ing un­til thick­ened and smooth. Stir in the cooled cho­co­late and put to one side.

8 To as­sem­ble, care­fully lift the cake with the bak­ing parch­ment to a flat sur­face. Spread the fill­ing evenly over the cake. Us­ing the pa­per, roll the cake, pulling away the pa­per as you go un­til the roll is com­plete and the pa­per can be lifted away en­tirely. Lift the cake with great care on to a serv­ing plate. Don’t worry about cracks.

9 Ap­ply the ic­ing in un­even mark­ings evok­ing bark … rough and ready. If you’re in­clined, add a lit­tle tree and a lit­tle fes­tive fig­urine on top.

If you’re in­clined, you can add a lit­tle tree or a fes­tive fig­urine on top of your bûche de Noël

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