Frozen Espresso Nougat with Pistachios & Bourbon

IMG_6179Frozen nougat is a lovely way to end a meal.  It is so light, and a half–cup serving is all that’s needed.  If the dinner has been a full one, it’s nice to serve something light and cool for dessert.  Remember that dessert is the last thing on your guests’ palates.  It needs to be memorable, in a good way!

I’ve served this many times over the years, but in a very simple version.  It was a bit of an epiphany for me to add in the espresso & bourbon, and switch the nuts to pistachio.  When I was making this batch, I was making enough for twenty.  After preparing the nuts (which I did the night before), it took me just over an hour to have all twenty covered and in the freezer, ready for a dinner in a couple of days’ time.

I served them with a tray of small mixed cookies, an easy but special finish to a great evening.  Continue reading

Steamed Cranberry-Ginger Pudding

IMG_5618In our childhood home, Christmas dinner used to always end with a suet pudding with hard sauce.  Lovingly made a month or so ahead of time to be part of the day’s celebrations.  Unfortunately, most of us children didn’t like the pudding.  It was too heavy following an exhausting day and a big dinner.  Even when we were told the stories of how our Grandmother used to make this very same pudding using her mother’s recipe (I know we have it somewhere, and when found, I’ll share it with you), we still weren’t enamored enough to enjoy it.

When our children were young, I started making a very simple gingerbread type pudding with cranberries and orange.  We would serve it with caramel sauce, and with a Grand Marnier hard sauce for the adults.  It made a great breakfast for Boxing Day, and became a bit of a tradition, until I lost my recipe.  I’ve been meaning to work it out over the past decade or so, but never seemed to get around to it.

This weekend, I finally did get around to it, and came up with individual puddings, which look so nice when plated.  Drizzle the plate with a bit of caramel sauce; place the pudding on top, with a small dollop of whipped cream.  Fancy, but not too fancy, just what’s needed after a feast.  Or just serve the puddings, and let folks pass the sauce & whip cream, and let them do it themselves.

Alternatively, you can douse the hot puddings with heated brandy and serve them flambé, or maybe just one to lead in with. IMG_5651 Continue reading

Chocolate Orange Mousse

IMG_3624With several people with gluten free diets visiting, I wanted to still make them a special, swoonable (something that can make one swoon) dessert.  We didn’t have any whipping cream in the house, but as usual, did have lots of fresh eggs.

Here’s my cream free version of a chocolate mousse, with the added headiness of Grand Marnier.  If you don’t have the liqueur, just use orange juice. Continue reading

Crème Brûlée

IMG_3202My all time favourite restaurant dessert is Crème Brûlée.  In many restaurants it is the only dessert made “in house”.  The reasons for this are simple enough, this is a very simple dish, keeps well, and only needs to have the sugar burnt before serving.  Many other desserts require a baker or pastry chef, and have short shelf lives.

Crème Brûlée is a simple custard of cream, sugar and egg yolks with a thin layer of cooked sugar that becomes hard enough to crack, so that you can scoop out the custard beneath.  The custard can be flavoured with different spices, but traditionally is made with vanilla.  If you have vanilla beans, simply store one in a couple of cups of white sugar for a couple of weeks.  This will give a lovely fragrance and taste to anything you use the sugar for.  It’s okay to use pure vanilla extract, just don’t add too much.

The desserts in the photos are a bright creamy yellow because I use free-range eggs.  Store bought eggs will make a much paler custard.

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