Christmas dessert needs to be at least 90 per cent if not 100 per cent ready to go on Christmas Day. By the time you've eaten all the food, drunk all the wine, fought with all the third uncles and opened all the presents – it's often that time of day when the hankering for something sweet hits, but the motivation to do anything about it has significantly waned. These desserts fit the bill. Prep-ahead and shove in the freezer, requiring nothing more than a quick assemble and/or zhuzh on the day. Let's keep Christmas merry after all.
Black Forest Christmas Dazzle
This has look-at-me written alllll over it. Standing at six layers tall, it does require some freezing and planning but it's all about assembly rather than any true 'doing' on your part. Even the brownie mixture is coming from a box*, making this a very low-key way to make a showstopping Christmas dessert. You will need 3 x 25cm loose-bottomed cake tins for this recipe.
- 3 x packets store-bought brownie mix*
- 1 litre strawberry sorbet
- 100g glace cherries, chopped
- 100g cranberries
- 1 litre chocolate ice-cream
- ¾ cup cherry jam
- 1 litre vanilla bean ice-cream
- ½ cup raspberries
- ½ cup blueberries
- ¾ cup dark chocolate chunks
- 6 macarons, halved (plus extra to decorate)
To top (all optional)
- 150g nougat, chopped
- 1-2 macarons
- freeze-dried strawberries
- 3-4 glace cherries
- 1 tbsp cranberries
- ¼ cup dark chocolate drops
- couple of fresh raspberries
- Grease and line your loose-bottom cake tins. Prepare the brownie batter according to the packet instructions, either in one big batch if you're confident in your dividing skills or 3 separate batches, and pour into the tins. Bake according to packet instructions. Allow to cool before turning out. Separately wrap the three brownie rounds tightly in cling film and place in the fridge. You can prepare these about 3 days ahead as the brownie keeps quite well.
- Clean your baking tins and line each with cling film, ensuring the cling film overhangs the edges so you can use it to help move the frozen layers around during assembly.
- For the strawberry layer, scoop the sorbet out into a bowl and allow to soften, you don't want it to melt, it should be just malleable. Add the dried fruit and stir to combine. Add to one of the tins and use the back of a spoon to level out. Place in the freezer overnight.
- Add the softened chocolate ice-cream to the second tin and use the back of a spoon to smooth out the top. Working quickly, dollop the jam over the top. Nice big uneven chunks are key here, and you don't want the ice-cream to melt. Place in the freezer overnight.
- For the top layer, scoop the vanilla ice-cream into a bowl. Once malleable, add the other ingredients and gently mix with a wooden spoon to combine – it helps to keep the macaron chunks as whole as possible. Add to the final tin, smooth the top and set in the freezer overnight. You will have a little mixture left over as the additions make this increase in volume – eat straight from the spoon or freeze for another use.
- To assemble, place one brownie in the centre of a serving plate. Top with the strawberry layer. Add another brownie layer and press down gently so the brownie sticks to the sorbet layer. Top with the chocolate ice-cream layer followed by the final brownie round. Add the vanilla layer to the top and press down gently again. You can stack this prior to serving and return to the freezer for about 45 minutes, any longer and the brownie layers will begin freeze – this makes them quite difficult to cut when serving, particularly when you have so many layers to slice through.
- Top with any or all of the suggested toppings and serve. It is best to cut through this with a hot, wet knife. You will find the sorbet layer, without any dairy, may be a little harder to slice through.
Tip: For fussy eaters, the brownie layers in between mean this cake can be easily disassembled and cut as one or two layers.
*If you prefer to bake the brownie rounds from scratch, my dark chocolate and olive oil brownie recipe would work well.
Mini waffles are the perfect vehicle for this rum 'n' raisin ice-cream. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Rum 'n' raisin 'n' rum ball ice-cream sandwiches
Because it's important to have a double hit of rum-addled goodness this Christmas. Just don't eat and drive, the rum flavour is gloriously robust in these decadent ice-cream sandwiches. Rum and raisin ice-cream is pelted with errant rumball mixture and dulce de leche, and is all the better for it.
After adding all the alcohol and mix-ins, this ice-cream does tend to be a little softer. It makes it a lot easier to cut with a cookie cutter mould but it will melt more quickly when placed in warm hands. Ditto the rum ball mixture – this is not intended to be firm enough to roll into rum balls, rather it adds a lovely chewy, soft biscuity textural goodness to your ice-cream sandwich.
- 8 mini waffles, cut in half horizontally (I used 2 x 200g packs by Toscano brand as they are the perfect width when halved)
- 250g dulce de leche
Rum 'n' raisin ice-cream
- ½ cup sultanas
- ½ cup raisins
- ¾ cup white rum
- 1 litre quality chocolate ice-cream
Rum ball mixture
- 250g Scotch Fingers or plain sweet biscuits
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ cup rum (I used white rum as that is what I used for the raisin mixture, but either white or dark will do)
- 395g can condensed milk
- ½ cup desiccated coconut
- Add the sultanas, raisins and rum to a bowl and set aside for at least 2 hours or until the line of liquid visible in the bowl has reduced, and the dried fruit is looking plump.
- Line a slice and brownie tin (about 27cm x 17cm x 3.5cm) with cling film.
- Remove the ice-cream from the freezer and let it get to a malleable consistency. Scoop out into a serving bowl and add the rum and fruit mixture. Working quickly, stir to incorporate thoroughly. Turn into the lined baking tray, and using the back of your spoon, spread out across the base. Pop in the freezer while you prepare the rest of the elements.
- For the rum ball mixture, blitz the biscuits in a food processor or blender to a coarse crumb. Turn out into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
- Remove the ice-cream from the freezer, it will still be soft, and using a dessert spoon, dollop over the rum ball mixture. Don't worry about where it ends up, dollop here there and everywhere – it's part of the ice-cream sandwich lottery. Similarly, dollop over spoonfuls of the dulce de leche. Cover with cling film and return to the freezer to set overnight.
- You can cut the ice-cream with a 7.5cm round cookie cutter (or the size that best suits your chosen waffles) when ready to serve, or you can do this prior to serving and simply lie the ice-cream discs on a sheet of baking paper in your freezer and have them all ready to go.
- To assemble, lay one waffle half on a flat surface and top with the disc of rum ice-cream. Top with the other half of the waffle and press down gently to secure. Repeat with remaining waffles and ice-cream discs. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 sandwiches
Caramel, ginger and spiced toffee ice-cream cake. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Salted caramel, ginger nut and spiced toffee ice-cream slab
Find the best quality gingernuts you can for this recipe. When paired with the caramel and creamy ice-cream, you need biscuits with a superbly strong hit of ginger so the flavour still sings and shines despite all the competition. I went rogue from the supermarket frozen aisle to my local ice-cream shop and this cake was all the better for it – the caramel was brilliantly salty and while I have suggested white chocolate below, a condensed milk ice-cream is also particularly excellent.
- 1 litre salted caramel ice-cream
- 395g can Top 'n' Fill caramel (or dulce de leche, if feeling flush)
- 300g gingernut biscuits
- 1 litre white chocolate ice-cream, or similar
- 125g vanilla wafers
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1½ tsp mixed spice
- For the toffee, line a baking tray with baking paper and set to the side near where you are cooking. Add the caster sugar and ¼ cup of water to a medium saucepan. Place over low heat and cook until the sugar has dissolved, give it a quick stir to ensure.
- Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil – don't stir at this point. Cook until the mixture is a rich golden colour, just turning to amber. Remove from heat, briskly mix in the mixed spice and pour onto the tray. Working quickly, as it will begin to harden as it cools, use a fork to pull and shape interesting strands of sugar across the tray. Allow it to cool and harden on the tray before breaking into shards. (Toffee will keep between sheets of baking paper in a tightly sealed container.)
- Line a large loaf tin with cling film with plenty overhanging the sides. Allow the salted caramel ice-cream to soften to a just-malleable consistency. Add to the lined loaf tin and use the back of your spoon or ice-cream scoop to spread out across the base.
- Using another spoon, dollop over the caramel – it makes for a more visually interesting dessert when you cut it if the caramel is in uneven dollops. Place the tin in the freezer while you get the next layer ready.
- Briefly pulse the gingernut biscuits in a food processor or crush them with a rolling pin until they are small bite-sized pieces. Add the biscuit chunks to a bowl. Add the white chocolate ice-cream and allow it to soften to a malleable consistency, then gently mix the biscuits through the ice-cream.
- Remove the tin from the freezer and scoop the white chocolate and gingernut layer over the caramel layer. Level off with the back of a spoon then cover with a neat layer of vanilla wafers, trimmed to fit the tin. Cover with cling film and return to the freezer to set overnight.
- To serve, invert onto a platter so that the vanilla wafers form the base, and gently press in the spiced toffee shards across the top. Slice using a hot, wet knife.
Frozen yoghurt meets passionfruit pavlova. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Frozen yoghurt and passionfruit curd cake
The curd is important here – the frozen yoghurt has an icier, blockier texture than regular ice-cream so the curd acts as a brilliant softener, making it easier for you to cut through when serving. Commonly yoghurt desserts are cut through with cream to create a creamier texture but I love the icy texture here – it is offset by the rich curd beautifully and feels like a lighter, fresher Christmas Day dessert. If you decide to decorate this dessert with fresh elderflowers (as pictured) remove them before eating. The fragrance is beautiful, but eating raw elderflower is not.
- 1 cup broken meringue pieces (bite-sized)
- 1.2kg creamy Greek-style yoghurt (lightly sweetened version)
- 400g passionfruit curd
- 340g tinned or fresh passionfruit pulp
- 4 tbsp elderflower cordial
- 600g creamy Greek-style yoghurt (lightly sweetened)
- ½ cup honeycomb pieces
- 4-5 edible flowers or elderflower
- 2 crystallised apricot halves, finely sliced
- Line a 26cm round x 10cm tall cake tin* with cling film, allowing plenty of overhang. Place a 7.5cm round x 10cm high cookie cutter in the centre.
- Start with the base layer by combining the meringue pieces and yoghurt in a bowl.
- Dollop most of the passionfruit curd on the base of the tin. Be very haphazard – where and how much doesn't matter – it's more for the pattern of it. Reserve 3-4 tbsp of the curd to swirl through the yoghurt.
- Gently pour over the yoghurt and meringue mixture and stir through the reserved passionfruit curd. Place in the freezer for two hours or until just set.
- Prepare the top layer by combining the passionfruit pulp, elderflower cordial and yoghurt in a bowl. Gently pour over the top of the base layer and return to the freezer to set overnight.
- When ready to serve, remove the dessert from the freezer and set on the bench for 1-2 minutes. (Given this is a more frozen consistency compared to ice-cream, and takes a little longer to be able to be turned out from the mould.) Place a serving plate over the top and flip over. At this point you can remove the cake tin and the layer of cling film. If the internal ring is still quite set in the centre of the dessert, wet a kitchen towel with hot water, as hot as you can handle and push into the centre. This will help you to be able to pull the ring from the dessert.
- Sprinkle with the honeycomb and flowers and arrange the crystallised apricot slices, if using, and serve. Slice using a hot, wet knife.
*You could also use a high-sided savarin tin or round bundt-style tin.