From the simple to the complicated, these three divine desserts will stop your guests in their tracks.
Rhubarb, raspberry and rose water trifle with praline
I love the combination of rhubarb, raspberries and rose water, but if you prefer something less floral simply substitute the rose water for vanilla extract.
800 grams rhubarb, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons rose water
3 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons water
1½ cups fresh raspberries
3 eggs, size 7, separated
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
400 grams mascarpone
¾ cup water
⅓ cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon rose water
¼ cup Vanilla Galliano
reserved rhubarb syrup
300 grams trifle sponge
Fairy floss (optional); Praline (see below)
½ cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon water
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
2. 2.5 litre capacity dish.
3. Fruit: Chop the rhubarb into 5cm lengths. Put in a single layer in a roasting pan and sprinkle with rose water, sugar and water. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until soft but not mushy. Fold through raspberries and leave to cool in the pan then drain off the rhubarb juices.
4. Trifle: In a mixer, whisk the egg yolks, ½ cup sugar and the vanilla bean paste until really thick and pale, for about 5 minutes. Add the mascarpone and beat to combine.
5. In a separate bowl whisk two of the egg whites with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until they hold soft peaks. Whip 200ml of the cream to soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the cream.
6. Put the water, sugar and rose water in a small pot and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat and pour into a jug to cool. Once it has cooled a little, add the Vanilla Galliano and the reserved rhubarb juices from the roast rhubarb. Slice the trifle sponge into fingers.
7. Line the base the dish with trifle fingers, then spoon over ½ of the rose water liqueur syrup. Place a layer of rhubarb and raspberries on top. Plop a layer of mascarpone custard on top and smooth out then repeat with another layer of trifle fingers, the remaining liqueur syrup, rhubarb, raspberries and custard. Cover with cling film and chill at least 8 hours or overnight. Just before serving whip the remaining cream and fully cover the final mascarpone custard layer.
8. Top with Fairy floss and the crushed Praline.
1. Line a small baking tray with baking paper.
2. Whisk the sugar and water together in a medium saucepan. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, whisking as the sugar dissolves, then brush any sugar on the sides of the pan into the water with a pastry brush, and don't whisk again. The sugar will go through several stages: first it will dissolve, then become white and crystallised, and finally it will start to turn lightly golden and liquid.
3. Gently swirl the saucepan at this stage to encourage even cooking. Once it is an even, light golden colour (similar to honey), pour it out on to the prepared tray. It will continue to darken in colour even once poured.
4. Once cooled (it doesn't take long), smash the praline into large pieces with the end of a wooden spoon or rolling pin and/or blitz in a food processor to your desired texture, from large and chunky to a golden powder.
Christmas pavlova with roasted strawberries
Our ultimate pav has a crisp/chewy outer, with a soft marshmallow centre. It loves to be dressed up with cream and assorted toppings and just screams Christmas and summer entertaining.
6 large egg whites, size 7
1½ cups caster sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons seedless dark berry jam
1 punnet blueberries
1 cup blackberries, thawed if frozen
300ml cream, softly whipped
Roasted strawberries (see recipe below)
⅓ cup pomegranate arils
¼ cup chopped pistachios
Trace a 20cm-diameter circle on a sheet of baking paper. Turn the paper over and place on a greased flat baking tray.
For roasted strawberries
1 cup of strawberries
5 teaspoons caster sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 120°C.
2. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Whisk until thick and glossy and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should be smooth when rubbed between your fingertips. Undissolved sugar will cause the meringue to weep.
3. Sift over the cornflour and add the lemon juice and vanilla. Using a large metal spoon, fold into the meringue. Spoon the meringue into the centre of the circle. Using the back of a large spoon, carefully spread it to the edge of the circle, building up the sides and swirling the top, keeping the meringue as high as possible.
4. Bake for 1½ hours. The pavlova will expand quite a lot, colour slightly and may have a few little cracks. Turn off the heat and leave the pavlova in the oven, with the door closed, to cool for a few hours or overnight.
1. Preheat oven to 170°C.
2. Chop strawberries in half and place on a lined baking tray and sprinkle with sugar.
3. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until strawberries are soft and juicy. Set aside to cool.
To assemble: Put the jam and 1 tablespoon of water in a bowl and microwave until bubbling. Add the blueberries and blackberries and stir to coat well so they are glossy. Cool. Gently dollop the cream over the pavlova and spoon on the berries, roasted strawberries, pomegranate arils and pistachios. Serve any remaining topping separately.
Christmas pudding ice cream
I almost like this better than the pudding itself… so addictive.
300 grams leftover Christmas pudding
⅓ cup whisky, brandy or rum
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Finely grated zest 1 orange
1 litre good-quality vanilla bean ice cream
⅓ cup lightly toasted sliced almonds
1.5 litre-capacity freezer-safe container
1. Crumble the pudding into a bowl and add the whisky, cinnamon and orange zest. Stir to combine and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the ice cream from the freezer to soften.
2. Transfer the ice cream to the container. Drop big blobs of the pudding into the ice cream and swirl through half of the almonds. Smooth the top slightly, sprinkle with the remaining almonds and re-freeze for at least 2 hours.
Find more great recipes at