Christmas is a time to indulge and even though everybody claims to be completely full after Christmas dinner, a couple of hours later you can be sure that someone will be looking for a little treat. So in this Christmas style guide I am giving you a couple of recipes to satisfy the sweet treat requirements of Christmas – a salted caramel cheesecake, white christmas and mince pies. Not just for Christmas day, these little treats are also great for a drinks party and can be prettily packaged to make a homemade gift as well.
Salted Caramel Cheesecake
I like to serve this in a glass which is so much easier at a party as you don’t need to worry about cutting it or serving it on to individual plates, and given it’s not cooked, you can assemble it into the glass and save on washing up. Perfect. (If you want to give this as a homemade gift to your host or a friend, make them in a small mason jar with a lid).
120g biscuit crumbs (I used Graham crackers but you could also use Digestives or any other sweet biscuit that you like)
80g unsalted butter, melted
50g desiccated coconut
450g cream cheese, softened
1 ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup single pouring cream
50g unsalted butter
1 ½ cups white sugar
½ cup water
1 tsp sea salt flakes
To make the biscuit crumb base, combine the biscuit crumbs, melted butter and desiccated coconut and mix thoroughly. (Sometimes it feels like there is not enough butter, but if you mix it for 5 minutes you will feel like the crumb is coming together a little more). Put 3 heaped teaspoons of the crumb mixture into a glass and lightly press down with the back of a spoon (or the end of a pestle).
Next make the cheesecake filling. In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese and condensed milk together then add the lemon juice and vanilla and beat until it is smooth and well combined. Spoon 2 heaped dessert spoons of the cheesecake mixture on top of your biscuit base in the glass, smooth the top and put in the refrigerator to chill.
Now on to the salted caramel. Place the cream and butter in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Then remove and set aside. Place the sugar and water in a large saucepan and on low heat stir until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat to high and allow the sugar mixture to come to the boil and remain boiling. It is important that you do not stir the mixture while it is boiling. Watch over the pan as you want the sugar mixture to develop into a deep caramel colour. It usually takes about 10 minutes for this to happen. Be patient. Don’t be tempted to stir it. And just watch for the change in colour. Once it starts changing in colour it will go very quickly from golden to burnt so be ready to remove it from the heat when you get a deep caramel colour. Remove from the heat and working quickly, add the cream and butter mixture and salt and whisk to combine (it will bubble up to the top of the pan before settling back down). Return the caramel to the heat and cook for another 2 minutes or until it’s slightly thickened.
Allow the salted caramel to cool to room temperature before you pour it over the cheesecakes. Decorate with a couple of extra salt flakes.
I suspect White Christmas is a Southern Hemisphere treat…? Last year I made it for a Christmas drinks party and my English friends were somewhat bemused by it (but ultimately won over by it’s sweet goodness). There are two chocolates I love – white chocolate and 70% dark chocolate – from ultra sweet to bitter…just don’t give me anything in between, I just can’t get on board with milk chocolate.
500g good quality white chocolate
1 ½ rice krispies
100g red glace cherries, halved
160g almonds, roasted and halved
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 tsp vanilla essence
Melt the white chocolate using either a bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure the temperature is low and the bowl is not touching the water beneath). Or in the microwave. In the microwave heat the chocolate for 20 seconds at a time and stir in between until it is just molten. Over heat it and your chocolate will seize up and be grainy and you’ll be throwing it away. Combine all the other ingredients in a large bowl and pour the melted chocolate over and stir to combine. Line a tray with baking paper and pour the mixture in and smooth the top. Refrigerate until set then cut into squares.
I’m actually not going to give you a recipe for mince pies because it’s not really a recipe unless you are super keen on creating your own filling (can’t think who would want to do that?!) So, this recipe goes something like this. Make your pastry, if you need a recipe you can find one here. Or buy sweet shortcrust pastry from the supermarket. Buy a jar of mincemeat filling. Roll out your pastry and cut circles to fit a mini muffin pan. Fill the pastry case with a little mincemeat, put a pastry lid on your pie and then bake in the oven at 180ºc for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Done. (Not really a recipe is it?)
I decorated my mini pies with a toothpick holding a Merry Christmas flag (which I printed onto paper using this font).
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas day and don’t forget to wear a loose dress or a skirt / trousers with an elastic waste to allow plenty of indulging! In the new year we’ll tackle some clean eating together.