Donna Hay's Christmas desserts for those who don't like pudding or mince pies

Raspberries and pistachios make a festive colour combination, but you could use any berries or nuts.
Raspberries and pistachios make a festive colour combination, but you could use any berries or nuts. Photo: Con Poulos

Three sweet show-stoppers for a merry end to the day.

Christmas layer cake

This is a lighter take on a traditional Christmas cake, filled with velvety layers of raspberry creme fraiche. The cake layers can be made a day in advance, just wrap tightly in cling film once cooled.

INGREDIENTS

400g creme fraiche

200ml thickened cream

1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted

200g raspberries, torn in half, plus extra to serve

35g (¼ cup) pistachios, chopped

Pistachio and almond Christmas cake

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200g (1¼ cups) blanched almonds

100g (¾ cup) pistachios

495g (2¼ cups) castor sugar

3 tsp vanilla extract

325g unsalted butter, softened

8 eggs

500g (3⅓ cups) self-raising flour

180ml (¾ cup) milk

80ml (⅓ cup) sherry

METHOD

1. Preheat oven to 160C (140C fan-forced).

2. To make the cake, grease and line the base and sides of 2 x 20cm round cake tins with non-stick baking paper. Place almonds and pistachios into a food processor and process until fine. Set aside.

3. Place castor sugar, vanilla and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add flour, milk, sherry and the almond and pistachio mix, and beat on low speed for 30 seconds to combine. Divide evenly between the prepared cake tins and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool cakes in their tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

4. To assemble, whisk creme fraiche, cream and icing sugar in a bowl until soft peaks form. Fold through raspberries. Slice each cake in half horizontally. Place a layer of cake on a serving plate then top with a quarter of the cream mixture. Repeat, alternating cake and cream, finishing with a cream layer on top. Scatter with pistachios and extra raspberries to serve.

Tip: Make sure the cakes are cooled completely before cutting in half and assembling.

Serves 8

Caramel pecan wreath with gingerbread glaze

Swirled with festive spices, this decadent pull-apart loaf is perfect for sharing at the Christmas table.

INGREDIENTS

250ml (1 cup) milk

50g unsalted butter, chopped

525g (3½ cups) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

110g (½ cup) castor sugar

1 egg, plus one extra,
lightly beaten

2¼ tsp dried yeast

Filling

100g unsalted butter, chopped and softened

175g (1 cup) light brown sugar, firmly packed

60g (½ cup) finely chopped pecans

1 tsp mixed spice

Gingerbread glaze

60ml (¼ cup) water

110g (½ cup) castor sugar

1 tsp ground ginger

1 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

METHOD

1. To make the dough, place the milk and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Heat until the butter is melted and the milk is lukewarm. Place the flour, sugar, 1 egg, yeast and milk mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed for 5 minutes or until the dough comes together (it should be a little sticky).

2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Place in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Set aside in a warm place for 1½ hours or until doubled in size.

3. While the dough is proving, make the filling. Combine the butter, sugar, chopped pecans and mixed spice in a bowl. Set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan-forced).

5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 50cm x 25cm rectangle. Spread with the filling mixture. Starting from one long side, roll the dough up to form a log. Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled dough in half lengthways.

6. Join the top of the 2 pieces together and carefully slide onto a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Twist the 2 lengths and join the ends to create a wreath shape. Gently transfer to a baking tray, cover with cling film and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until almost risen. Brush with the beaten egg and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

7. While the wreath is baking, make the gingerbread glaze. Place the water, sugar, ginger, star anise and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to
the boil and cook for 3-4 minutes or until reduced slightly and syrupy.

8. To serve, brush the wreath with the glaze.

Serves 12

Tip: This is best served warm. If you bake ahead, cover and reheat gently in the oven.

***EMBARGOED FOR GOOD FOOD MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 6, 2019 ISSUE***
Donna Hay's Christmas popsicles. Wide.
Additional image for online.
Photo by Con Poulos

Christmas popsicles with gingerbread crumb. Photo: Con Poulos

Christmas popsicles

A cool and creamy treat for kids who don't like pudding. Crumbled gingerbread is an easy way to add a sweet crunch.

INGREDIENTS

120g dried figs, stems removed and roughly chopped

180ml (¾ cup) fresh apple juice

60ml (½ cup) water

400g mascarpone

60ml (¼ cup) milk

80ml (⅓ cup) maple syrup

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

80g store-bought gingerbread biscuits, crumbled

METHOD

1. Place figs, juice and water in a saucepan over high heat. Bring mixture to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes to reduce slightly. Remove from heat and use a stick blender to blitz until smooth. Stand to cool.

2. In a separate bowl, place the mascarpone, milk, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla and whisk until it thickens slightly. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the cream mixture into the base of 8 popsicle moulds. Add 1½ teaspoons of fig mixture and repeat between the two flavours, finishing with the cream. Use a skewer to ripple the pops, then secure with tops and popsicle sticks. Freeze for 2-4 hours or until frozen.

3. To serve, remove popsicles from moulds and scatter with gingerbread biscuit crumbs.

Tip: To help release the popsicles more easily, dip the base of the moulds into warm water for 10 seconds.

Makes 8