Ah, Christmas, a spectacular time for over-eating and socially sanctioned gluttony.
To that end, these casual desserts come in single dish form, the instant gratification kind that you can visit again and again, with drunk rellies none the wiser that you are indulging in more than your fair share.
Cheat's Christmas Viennetta
A lighter, fruitier Aussie spin on the traditional Viennetta; heavy on the mango and passionfruit. Buy the best quality sorbets and ice-cream you can afford.
175g dark chocolate
1 litre mango sorbet
1½ litres vanilla bean ice-cream
500ml passionfruit sorbet
flesh of 3 small passionfruits
½ cup honeycomb chunks
3 tbsp dark chocolate chunks
edible flowers (optional)
1. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
2. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (don't let the bowl touch the water), and stir until smooth and melted.
3. Thinly spread the melted chocolate over the baking paper, in three wide strips, each roughly the length and width of a 25cm loaf pan. Chill until ready to use.
4. Line a 25cm loaf tin with clingwrap, ensuring there is plenty of overhang on the sides.
5. Remove the mango sorbet from the freezer, allow it to soften slightly, and scoop it into the base of tin. Spread the sorbet to create a smooth, flat surface, cover with a chocolate shard and place in the freezer to firm up for 20 minutes.
6. Repeat with half the vanilla ice-cream and another chocolate shard, before returning to the freezer for 20 minutes.
7. Soften the passionfruit sorbet, scoop into the tin and spread smoothly. Top this layer with the passionfruit flesh – it adds a tart surprise to the sweet layers – followed by the final chocolate shard. Return to the freezer for another 20 minutes.
8. Finally add the remaining vanilla ice-cream to the loaf tin, level the surface and freeze until firm and ready to serve.
9. Remove the loaf tin from the freezer about five minutes before serving. Carefully turn out onto a platter and top the log with raspberries, honeycomb, chocolate and edible flowers (if using).
Giant triple chocolate cookie drizzled with hot fudge sauce. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Chocolate oblivion frypan cookie with peppermint hot fudge sauce
You might think, "I can't do that for Christmas, it's not fancy enough, not 'Chrismassy' enough", but I guarantee it'll fall into the "I'm so glad I did" category.
Nothing divides a dessert crowd quite like peppermint, so add or ignore to your heart's content. I've included an option of adding peppermint oil, but my recommendation is getting your hands on some fresh chocolate-mint. It adds a beautiful light fresh note to this triple chocolate assault.
This giant cookie is super easy and not for those who like to individually plate their desserts. Slide this heaving goodness onto the centre of the table, still slightly warm, and let them go at it.
120g castor sugar
80g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean extract
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
225g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarbonate soda
pinch of salt
½ cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup milk chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup white chocolate, roughly chopped
Hot fudge sauce
50g dark chocolate, chopped
50g milk chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp cocoa powder
155ml condensed milk
¼ cup glucose syrup
drop of peppermint oil (optional)
small handful of chocolate-mint leaves (optional)
cream or ice-cream, to serve (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 175C.
2. Grease and line a 30cm ovenproof frypan.
3. Beat the butter, sugars and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions to ensure everything is incorporated.
4. Add the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate soda and pinch of salt and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
5. Stir in the chopped white, milk and dark chocolate. Transfer the mixture into the prepared frypan, pressing down – don't worry if it doesn't quite reach the edge, the dough will expand as it cooks. Bake for 20 minutes for a slightly chewy biscuit, but given it's baked in a frypan the cookie will be denser, more cake-like in texture.
6. While the cookie is baking, make the hot fudge sauce. Place the chopped chocolate and cocoa in a heatproof bowl. Combine condensed milk, glucose and ⅓ cup water in a small saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, remove from heat and immediately pour the milk mixture over the chocolate mixture. Set aside for 5 minutes or until the chocolate has melted, add the peppermint oil (if using), and stir until smooth. Keep warm until ready to serve.
7. To serve, drizzle a little fudge sauce over the cookie, sprinkle with chocolate-mint leaves (if using) and serve with cream or ice-cream.
Note: The cookie dough can be made one day ahead; cover the frypan with clingwrap and store in the fridge. The hot fudge sauce can be made ahead and reheated while the cookie is baking.
Dive into this chocolate and nougat truffle bowl. Photo: Katrina Meynink
One bowl chocolate and nougat truffle
This is basically Toblerone in a bowl. It is seriously delicious and just the right kind of dessert for those languid Christmas days after a long lunch and a swim, when people come sniffing past the table again for a glass of sticky and a sweet little something. Plonk the bowl and a plethora of spoons on the table and call it done.
200ml thickened cream
450g dark chocolate, finely chopped
150g soft nougat, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Dutch cocoa powder, to dust
Toppings (all optional)
1 tbsp dried rose petals
¼ cup pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
a few crystallised violets
½ cup roughly broken meringue
1. Place the cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then immediately remove from heat. Add the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
2. Pour into the serving bowl. Press the nougat pieces into the chocolate until completely submerged. Cover with clingwrap and chill for 4 hours or overnight, until set.
3. When ready to serve dust generously with cocoa powder. If adding toppings, toss the ingredients in a small bowl then arrange in a circle on the truffle surface.
Chilled custard with boozy cherries. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Spiced creme brulee with bourbon and vanilla laced cherries
1½ tbsp bourbon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
75g castor sugar
8 egg yolks
rapadura or brown sugar, to scatter
Bourbon and vanilla laced cherries
¾ cup fresh cherries
1 tbsp bourbon
1 tsp vanilla bean extract
1. Preheat the oven to 115C.
2. Combine the milk, cream, mixed spice, bourbon and vanilla paste in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then set aside to cool slightly.
3. Whisk the castor sugar and yolks together until light and creamy and pour the warm cream over; whisking constantly.
4. Strain through a fine sieve into a shallow 1.5-litre capacity oven-proof dish. Stand dish in a roasting pan and pour enough water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until just set. Check on it from about 45 minutes, it should look firm but still have a wobble to it when you jiggle the baking dish. Lift the dish from the water bath and cool slightly, then refrigerate until chilled completely (at least 90 minutes).
5. For the vanilla and bourbon cherries, halve and pit some of the cherries and leave the others whole. Combine the fruit with the bourbon and vanilla extract in a bowl, gently turning. Set aside for 30 minutes.
6. Just before serving, sprinkle the rapadura sugar over the cooled custard and caramelise the sugar using a blowtorch. Alternatively, place the baking dish under a grill for a few minutes to caramelise, taking care as the sugar can burn quickly. Cool until the toffee has set and serve with the boozy macerated cherries. (Note: If you use the grill method, allow the pudding to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.)