“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
~ Paulo Coelho, Alchemist ~
…and however small, big, crazy or unbelievable the dream is, there isn’t a better time to light it up with a spark, than Christmas.
And while on the matter of dreams, real or sweet, whatever shall they be, what are you dreaming when thoughts linger towards festive table?
What do you serve to quiet down that restless sweet tooth on Noel?
Cake, pie or an old fashioned trifle?
What is the scent that reaches out to the furthest corners of the house when preparations to celebrate begin?
As long as I remember, my grandma used to make her famous honey cake. Layered with heaps of lemony cream and enough to feed an army, it’s one of the favourite treats to look forward to and the honeyed aroma floating through rooms is always a sign of something special.
But Christmas is the time of plenty and perhaps sometimes too much, and one cake is never enough. Or so it is for us at least. When the savory feast is done and the calling of something sweet and special is as strong as ever, the sweets have to be a sight to behold.
This year I’ll be making trifles: fresh, creamy, citrusy and with chocolate of course, something for each and everyone to fancy. Starting with a raspberry one, greeting with a dollop of creamy mascarpone, quickly mingled with a zest of lime curd, jasmine tea roll and a refreshing prosecco jelly to round it all. Quite a mouthful the whole thing but very easy to accomplish. Trust me.
The second one is a creamy Italian classic (a recipe I have to thank a dear friend for) with layers of chocolate and cocoa and perhaps a dash or two of favourite booze.
A tiramisu is best to savour after it has comfortably rested a nigh in a fridge and all the flavours have become intimately familiar giving something to look forward to bite in on Christmas day.
Happy, peaceful and joyful week!
- 1-2 cups espresso, chilled
- 1 box of ladyfingers
- few dashes of Kahlua or Baileys (optional)
- 3 oz/100 g dark chocolate shaved
- 1 tablespoon cacao powder
- 3 eggs, separated
- 4 tablespoons white sugar
- 9 oz/ 250g mascarpone
- pinch of salt
- Cream egg yolks and sugar together, till pale and doubled in size.
- Stir in mascarpone cream.
- Beat the egg whites with pinch of salt till stiff peaks and gently fold in mascarpone cream.
- If using liquor add it to the coffee.
- Dip ladyfingers for about 4 seconds in coffee then layer on the bottom of the dish, spoon over some cream sprinkle with chocolate and repeat with the remaining. Finishing with a fine dust of cacao and chocolate shavings.
- Leave to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours, overnight would be best.
- 1 ½ cup prosecco
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 4 gelatine leaves
- 5 oz/ 150g raspberries
- 3 eggs, separated
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon jasmine tea, grounded (optional)
- pinch of salt
- 40 g flour
- 40 g cornstrach
- 4 tablespoons/60 ml fresh lime juice
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 lime zest
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons/60g unsalted butter, cubed
- ½ cup cream
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
- 5 oz/150 g mascarpone cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 7 oz/200 g raspberries
- Start by making prosecco jelly. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes.
- In a pan bring prosecco with sugar to boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes to boil down the alcohol.
- Squeeze the extra water out of the gelatine and stir into prosecco.
- Let it cool a little.
- Divide the raspberries between 6 glasses, pour over prosecco on top and chill for a few hours in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/356F.
- Sift together flour, cornstarch and tea, set aside.
- Place a bowl over the pot of simmering water and beat ⅔ of sugar with egg yolks for a few minutes.
- Take off the heat and beat a little more assuring that the eggs do not scramble from the heat at the bottom.
- Over the same pot of simmering water in a separate bowl beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt and remaining sugar, then stir into the yolks.
- Fold in the dry in the dry ingredients.
- Pour the batter onto a parchment-lined tray (about 10x 13 inch, 26x 33 cm) and bake for 10 minutes.
- Once out of the oven allow to cool down.
- For the curd, Beat the eggs, sugar, salt and zest till becomes pale and creamy, stir in the lime juice and beat again.
- Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, stirring all the time till curd starts to thicken. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the water and quickly stir in the cold butter.
- Let it cool down.
- For the mascarpone cream beat together cream, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla beans.
- Finally, arrange the trifles, cut out a circle of the swiss roll and place on top of the jelly, spoon some of the lime curd, arrange a layer of raspberries and finish with a swirl of mascarpone. Repeat with the rest.
- Serve immediately or keep in the fridge till needed.