We often turn to traditional favourites at Christmas time, especially when it comes to the hearty Christmas Pudding. This stodgy dessert has its origins way back in the 1500s, when puddings boiled in cheese cloth were a staple of British day to day life.
However, things have moved on over the centuries, and dense, dried fruit treats aren’t the last word in luxury any more. Check out some of these sumptuous alternatives to our traditional Christmas dessert.
An Italian Christmas favourite is the classic panettone. This is an enriched bread that’s developed over several kneads, so if you intend to make one yourself it does take a little time.
Like croissants and cinnamon whirls, it’s the attention to procedure that makes the dough of panettone so indulgent, rather than the ingredients. But having said that, you can improve on the classic by adding some smooth, sweet amaretto to the bread, much as you might feed a Christmas pudding.
Bûche de Noël:
As you might have guessed from the name, this is the French take on the yule log. The idea is the same as the English classic – a Swiss roll made from genoise, with an indulgent ganache or icing coating and festive decorations.
A popular innovation in Quebec is to add good quality, rich espresso to the cake. The best way to go about this is to make the espresso fresh, and add it hot to each individual serving of the Bûche, rather than soaking it beforehand.
It allows you to get the full flavour of the coffee, and makes for an irresistibly melty chocolate and coffee spoonful.
Stollen is a German treat that needs little introduction. This enriched bread is given its Christmas twist via a sweet, nutty marzipan core.
Stollen can be done badly, with overworked dough becoming dry and crumbly. A good Christstollen should have a soft, tearable structure, and ideally should be eaten soon after baking. Serve with a good quality sweet white wine to get the full German experience.
Rhubarb and Champagne Jelly:
Jelly often occupies an unpleasant part of our childhood memories – defined by poor quality, rubbery concoctions. But it doesn’t have to be like that. If you’d like a rich alternative to the usual Christmas dessert, a rhubarb and champagne jelly gives you a refreshingly tart burst of fruit, beautifully complemented by a bit of fizz.
So it’s easy to see that Christmas doesn’t have to mean Christmas pudding. Have a look at some of these options for luxury alternatives that still provide that festive feeling.