And now for something a little different... decadent desserts from Darina Allen
Add these decadent desserts from Darina Allen to your menu for an indulgent Christmas treat.
Chocolate Meringue Gateau
This recipe makes two layers of meringue but you can double the ingredients for a celebration cake or to make individual little meringues.
2 organic, free-range egg whites
125g icing sugar
2 rounded tsp cocoa powder (I use Valrhona)
For the chocolate & rum cream: 30g best quality dark chocolate
15g unsweetened chocolate
1 tbsp Jamaican rum
1 tbsp double cream
300ml softly whipped cream
For the chocolate wafers: 55g best quality dark chocolate
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2.
2. Mark 2 x 19cm circles on parchment paper. Check that the bowl is dry, spotlessly clean and free of grease. Put the egg whites into the bowl and add 110g sieved icing sugar all at once; whisk for about 10 minutes until the mixture forms stiff, dry peaks. Sift together the cocoa and the remaining 15g sieved icing sugar and fold in very gently. Spread into circles with a palette knife and bake immediately in the oven for 45 minutes or until just crisp. Leave to cool completely then peel off the paper.
3. Meanwhile, very gently melt the chocolate with the rum and 1 tablespoon of cream in a bowl over simmering water. Cool and add 2 tablespoons of whipped cream into the chocolate. Mix well, then fold that into the remaining softly whipped cream; don't stir too much or it may curdle.
4. To make the chocolate wafers, melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water. Stir until quite smooth. Spread on a non-stick baking mat or heavy baking tray. Put into a cold place until stiff enough to cut into square or diamond shapes.
5. Sandwich the two meringue discs together with most of the chocolate and rum cream and add rosettes on top. Decorate with the chocolate wafers and a sprinkling of cocoa.
Orange mousse with dark chocolate wafers
This mousse sounds slightly 'retro' now, but everyone loves it when we serve it on the sweet trolley at Ballymaloe House. Be careful to measure the gelatine accurately.
2 oranges (1½ if very large)
4 organic, free-range eggs
70g caster sugar
3 tbsp water
2 tsp gelatine
1 organic, unwaxed lemon
225ml whipped cream
For the chocolate wafers: 50g best quality dark chocolate
To decorate: 2 oranges
225ml whipped cream
A pinch of caster sugar
1. Wash and dry the oranges; grate the rind on the finest part of a stainless steel grater. Put into a bowl with 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks and the caster sugar. Whisk to a thick mousse, preferably with an electric mixer. Put the water in a little bowl, measure the gelatine carefully and sprinkle over the water.
2. Leave for a few minutes until the gelatine has soaked up the water and feels spongy to the touch. Put the bowl into a saucepan of simmering water and allow the gelatine to dissolve completely. All the granules will dissolve and it should look perfectly clear.
3. Meanwhile, squeeze the juice from the 2 oranges and 1 lemon, measure and if necessary bring up to 300ml with more orange juice. Stir a little into the gelatine and then mix well with the remaining juice. Gently stir this into the mousse; cool in the fridge, stirring regularly. When the mousse is just beginning to set around the edges, fold in the softly whipped cream. Whisk the 2 egg whites stiffly and fold in gently. Pour into a glass bowl or into individual bowls. Cover and leave to set for 3-4 hours in the fridge or better still overnight.
4. Meanwhile, make the chocolate wafers. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water. Stir until quite smooth. Drizzle on a non-stick baking mat or a heavy baking tray. Put into a cold place until stiff enough to cut into square or diamond shapes.
5. While the chocolate is setting, make the orange-flavoured cream. Grate the rind from an orange, add half into the whipped cream and add a pinch of caster sugar to taste. Peel and segment the oranges. Decorate the top of the mousse with orange segments and pipe on some rosettes of orange-flavoured cream. Sprinkle with a little of the grated orange rind. Peel the chocolate wafers off the mat and use them to decorate the edges of the mousse.
Lemon fluff with limoncello cream
This is a gorgeous old-fashioned family pudding which separates into two quite distinct layers when it cooks; it has a lovely fluffy top and a creamy lemon base, provided it is not overcooked.
225g caster sugar
3 organic, free-range eggs
75g plain flour
2 organic, unwaxed lemons
300ml whole milk
Icing sugar, to decorate
300ml softly whipped cream flavoured with Limoncello, or crème fraîche, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
2. Cream the butter until really soft, then add the caster sugar and beat well. Separate the egg yolks and whisk in one by one, then stir in the flour. Grate the rind of 2 lemons on the finest part of the grater. Squeeze and strain the juice and add the rind and juice then add the milk.
3. Whisk the egg whites stiffly in a bowl and fold gently into the lemon mixture. Pour into a 1.2-litre pie dish, place in a bain-marie and bake for 35-40 minutes. Dredge with icing sugar.
4. Serve immediately alongside the softly whipped cream flavoured to taste with Limoncello, or some crème fraîche.
Simply Delicious the Classic Collection: 100 Recipes from Soups & Starters to Puddings & Pies by Darina Allen, published by Kyle Books in hardback at €27. Photography by Peter Cassidy.