Christmas dinner - the main event. The build-up - we’re not talking just come the 25th December, but the days, perhaps weeks, in advance preparing the perfect spread. Much focus and precision goes into serving a mouth-watering turkey or more-ish nut roast, that oftentimes the dessert becomes a little, well, forgotten. Possibly because exhaustion has set in, not only from spending hours in the kitchen surrounded by pots and pans, but also attempting the seemingly impossible feat to find the plate underneath all the trimmings - yes, we have all been there.
So, when it comes to a sweet, steaming a Christmas pudding or opening a box of chocolates (treat yourself to something special here) may be all you have the energy for.
Unless, one of these delicious, little bit naughty but exceptionally nice desserts sound too good to resist not giving a try. Our friends at Le Creuset have spoilt us with these flavoursome recipes certain to have your guests changing into an elasticated waistband ensemble post main course to have a taste. For chocolate fans, we seriously recommend the Dulce de Leche hot choc - the ultimate drink to snuggle up with on the sofa.
Winter Black Cherry Forest Cake
A celebration cake soaked in kirsch filled with layers of cherries and cream and coated in chocolate bark.
Preparation time: 50 minutes, including chilling time
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
For the chocolate cake
- 6 eggs
- 225g sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 90ml hot water
- 175g plain flour
- 50g corn flour
- 50g cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 1 pinch salt
For the chocolate bark pieces
- 300g dark chocolate
For the kirsch syrup
- 100g sugar
- 100ml water
- 50ml Kirsch
For the cake filling
- 1 jar sour cherries in syrup (160g drained weight), plus the juice 200ml
- 2 tablespoons corn flour
- 5 gelatin sheets
- 35ml kirsch
- 600ml double cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For decorating the cake:
- 600ml double cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 100g fresh cherries
- Rosemary sprigs
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 160°C Fan/ Gas Mark 6
- Line the base of the Toughened Non-Stick Bakeware 24cm springform with baking paper, do not grease the edges.
- Whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and hot water together in a bowl at full speed until light and creamy and holds its shape. This will take approximately 10 minutes.
- Mix the flour, corn flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Sieve the mixture over the egg mixture. Gently fold in with a spatula until all the dry ingredients have been combined.
- Pour the batter into the springform and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven once a skewer comes out of the cake clean. Let it cool completely.
- Remove the cake from the tin and wrap in clingfilm, store in the fridge overnight. This means the cake will not crumble when sliced.
- Place the dark chocolate in a Le Creuset saucepan over a low heat to melt. Once melted, pour half onto a sheet of baking paper and smooth down a little. Put another sheet of baking paper on top.
- Using a rolling pin, carefully roll out the chocolate between the sheets of baking paper. The chocolate should not run out the sides. Then, roll up the paper thinly and place it in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Repeat this with the other half of the chocolate.
- Take the rolls out of the freezer and then unroll after at least 1 hour. This will break up the chocolate to form bark-like pieces.
Preparation (Next day)
- Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and let it cool, then add the Kirsch.
- For the cherry filling, drain the can of cherries and collect 200ml of the juice. Mix the juice with 2 tablespoons of corn flour. Heat in a saucepan and continuously stir until the mixture thickens. Stir in the cherries and leave to cool.
- Soak the gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, warm the Kirsch slightly in a small saucepan, squeeze out the gelatin and dissolve in the Kirsch, making sure to continuously stir. Remove from the heat.
- Whip the 600ml of double cream and vanilla extract together until stiff.
- Slowly pour the gelatin mixture into the cream and fold together.
- Place the cream in a piping bag.
Assembling the cake:
- Cut the cake into four layers. Place the first layer of cake in the base of the springform cake tin. Drizzle 1/3 of the Kirsch syrup over the cake base, then put the prepared cherries on top, leaving about 1-2cm of edge. Pipe the edge with cream and then layer the next cake on top.
- Drizzle 1/3 of the Kirsch syrup onto this base, then spread half of the cream on top and cover with the third layer of cake.
- Drizzle the third tier with the last of the kirsch syrup, then spread the remaining cream on top and top with the fourth layer of cake.
- Chill the cake for 1 hour.
Final layer of cream and decoration:
- Remove the cake from the tin and place on a cake stand or serving plate.
- Whip the remaining 600ml of double cream with the vanilla extract until thick.
- Spread the cake with 2/3 of the whipped cream. This works best with a palette knife.
- Place the remaining cream into a piping bag with a star nozzle and make small ‘snow hills’ on the cake. Place a large dollop of cream in the middle.
- Decorate the edge of the cake with the chocolate bark pieces. Pile a small ‘campfire’ with the rest of the chocolate in the middle of the cake.
- Decorate the cake with cherries and small ‘Rosemary trees’.
- Chill the finished cake for at least 4 hours and take it out of the fridge about 1 hour before serving.
The sour cherries are often only available at Christmas time or in delis so you can use 160g of frozen cherries cooked with 200ml water instead.
Bramley Apple, Lemon and Thyme Puff Pastry Tart
There’s something magical about apples and lemon. When combined they create the most extraordinary, eloquent floral note. This tart is sensational served warm from the oven with double cream but can be equally delicious for an indulgent Boxing Day breakfast the next morning.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
- 1 large Bramley apple (about 400g), peeled, cored and diced
- 1 lemon, juice and ½ the zest
- 2 teaspoons tender thyme leaves
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 4-6 dessert apples (depending on size), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
For the rough-puff pastry
- 150g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
- 300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- Good pinch of salt
- About 100ml iced water
For the frangipane
- 75g unsalted butter, softened
- 75g golden caster sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 75g of ground almonds
- First, make the pastry. In a bowl, combine the butter cubes with the flour and salt. Then add just enough iced water to bring everything together into a dough full of big pieces of butter.
- On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough in one direction away from you to make a rectangle about 1cm thick. Fold the two short ends into the middle so they overlap. Give the pastry a quarter-turn and repeat the rolling and folding process three more times.
- Wrap the pastry in cling film, then rest it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Remove the pastry from the fridge and repeat the folding process a further three times. Wrap the pastry again and place it in the fridge to chill.
- Then, put the Bramley apple dice in a pan with the lemon zest, half the thyme leaves and 75g of the sugar. Add 1 tablespoon of water and cook, covered, over a low heat. Stir regularly until the apple pieces have dissolved and you have a thick, slightly translucent purée – this should take about 25-30 minutes. Spoon into a bowl, cool, then place in the fridge to chill.
- For the frangipane, cream together the butter, caster sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and ground almonds and mix until combined. Set aside.
- Heat the oven to 190°C/ 170°C Fan/ Gas Mark 5. Roll out the pastry on a well-floured surface about 4-5mm thick. Using the Le Creuset Toughened Non-Stick 26cm Square Roaster as a guide, line the roaster with the pastry and trim to fit. Use a dull knife to score a 2cm margin around the base of the 4 sides of the pastry but don’t cut all the way through.
- Spread the frangipane mixture out over the pastry, taking it up to the margins if you can.
- Now spread the chilled apple purée evenly over the top of the frangipane, again, almost to the edges.
- Arrange the dessert apple slices over the purée in overlapping lines, running back and forth, until you have used them all up.
- 10.Bake the tart for 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is risen and crisp and the apples are soft and golden.
- 11.Sprinkle over the remaining thyme leaves then allow the tart to cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.
Dulce de Leche Hot Chocolate with Shortbread Stars
A combination of rich, sweet caramel with dark bitter chocolate, topped with lashings of cream and a drizzle of warm Dulce de Leche, these hot chocolates are made even more special when served alongside shortbread stars.
Preparation time: 2 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
- 400ml milk
- 160ml double cream
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 100g Dulce de Leche
- Pinch of salt
- Squirty cream
- 1 tablespoon Dulce de Leche, gently melted
- Shortbread stars
- Place all the hot chocolate ingredients in a heavy-bottom saucepan and place over a medium heat.
- Warm the milk and cream whilst gently whisking to dissolve the cocoa powder. Once the cocoa powder is incorporated and the Dulce de Leche has dissolved, serve into two mugs.
- Top with squirty cream and drizzle with melted Dulce de Leche. Finishing by adding a shortbread star to the edge of the mug and serve.
- For a less rich option, swap the milk and cream for a milk alternative like coconut or oat milk.
Ready to create a seasonal show-stopper? Shop our Le Creuset range and you are halfway there! Be sure to tag us in your bakes on Instagram, it will give us the perfect excuse to drool over food photos all day!