I make a lot of pudding and dessert recipes! I don’t make them everyday but whenever I make a slightly more special meal – Sunday lunch or a get-together for family or friends – I always finish it off with a home-made dessert.
All my recipes are simple and easy to make from scratch. Many of them can be made in advance which takes off the pressure a bit when you are entertaining. As with all my recipes, they are dishes that anyone can make which taste good and look attractive.
I have good old-fashioned English puddings such as Apple Crumble and Rhubarb Crumble (I love a crumble!). I also have some easy make-ahead family favourites such as Banoffee Pie and Lime Cheesecake.
You can probably tell by the number of recipes that I am a huge fan of ice cream. It is the perfect make-ahead dessert – summer or winter – and home-made tastes SO much better than shop-bought. You can really experiment with the flavours too. If you are looking for something different, why not try Rose Ice Cream or Blackberry Ice Cream? Or maybe something more traditional like Coffee Ice Cream or Lemon Curd Ice Cream which is so easy and only uses three ingredients?
Have a look at the Recipe Index for lots of other brilliant dessert recipes!
This Lime Cheesecake is the perfect dessert for a celebration or a family dinner. You can make it in advance, it does not require cooking and it has a fantastic combination of creaminess with zesty citrus. It is not too heavy which, combined with its citrus zest, makes it the perfect ending to a special meal.
I make all types of cheesecakes, and also desserts such as Banoffee Pie which have a similar biscuit base. There is something about the combination of the smashed-up buttery biscuit with a creamy topping which seems to be popular with all ages! Smashing up the biscuits is also quite therapeutic..
This is a no-bake recipe. I think the way that it works is almost magical. The citrus juices react with the cream cheese and the cream causing it to solidify. The mixture may seem too liquid when it is first combined but, once it has been poured into the tin and left for a couple of hours, it will have firmed up.
All things citrus – lovely limes and lovely lemons..
This tangy, make-ahead no-cook lime cheesecake is such an easy dessert. Its not too heavy and its zesty citrus flavour is perfect at the end of special meal.
175 g digestive biscuits
75 g butter
Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
115 g caster sugar
350 g cream cheese
150 ml double cream
Fresh lime slices to decorate (optional)
Crush the digestive biscuits into crumbs. I have two methods to do this – both equally therapeutic. Either I put the biscuits in a plastic sandwich bag and then bash with a rolling pin or I put the biscuits in a metal bowl (the one from my food processor is perfect) and bash with a rolling pin.
Melt the butter. I generally do this by putting it in a bowl and heating briefly in the microwave.
Stir the melted butter into the crumbs.
Press the buttery crumbs into a 20 cm loose-based flan or cake tin. Put the tin into the fridge while you get on and prepare the other ingredients. The butter will cool and solidify and mean that the base of your cheesecake is stable.
In a bowl, mix the zest and juice of the limes and lemon with the sugar and cream cheese.
Beat the double cream until it forms soft peaks and then fold it into the mixture. The mixture will look lumpy and also a bit runny. Do not worry – it is supposed to look like that!
Spoon the mixture over the biscuit crumb base.
Leave the cheesecake in the fridge for several hours, ideally overnight, to set. The acid from the citrus fruit will react with the cream and cream cheese and form a firm mixture so that it should be easy to remove from the tin when you are ready to eat it.
If you wish, you can decorate the top of the cheesecake with fresh lime slices or some grated lime zest.
Vegetarian Mince Pies – crisp flaky golden pastry and rich fruity brandy-infused mincemeat and all ready in just over half an hour. Your kitchen will be filled with delicious seasonal baking aromas and you will be able to offer everyone, veggies and meat-eaters, a warm pie fresh from the oven. If you want to get into the Christmas baking vibe, without doing anything too complicated or time consuming, then this is your go-to recipe.
In a world where there is a proliferation of good-quality ready-made Mince Pies, I think it is still worth making your own as it is an easy short-cut to seasonal baking bliss without too much effort. At this time of the year, spending an hour or so making these beauties, ignoring the cold outside, is just what I want to do. This is the perfect, no-fuss Christmas recipe!
I think home-made Mincemeat is best and I have a recipe on this blog. However, you do need to make it in advance and, frankly, you may not have either the time or inclination to do this. Using shop-bought mincemeat is absolutely fine but try and go for one that is good quality. If you are using shop-bought mincemeat, you can add a teaspoon of brandy or port to the mixture, which will really lift the flavour, or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice if you don’t want to use alcohol. Adding some grated orange or lemon peel is also good.
Whether you are using home-made or shop-bought mincemeat, you can add an additional hidden treat to your pies. I will sometimes add the following to each pie, on top of the mincemeat filling, before putting on the pastry lid: a chunk of marzipan, a few dried cranberries, a piece of dark chocolate, a glace cherry or a lump of cheese.
Again, I think home-made pastry is best. It has a buttery crispness which even good quality ready-made pastry doesn’t seem to have. It is also really easy to make your own pastry. However, again, you may not have the time or inclination to make your own. If you want to use shop-bought pastry, that is fine. Just make sure you get a brand that is “all butter” as it will generally taste better.
You can go for different shaped “lids” for you pies but, honestly, stars are best. It is Christmas after all and you can’t get much more festive than a star!
When you are baking your pies, make sure that the door to your kitchen is open so the smell of baking and alcohol-infused fruit spreads throughout your house.
How to eat your mince pies
Without a doubt, mince pies are best eaten warm. If you are not eating them immediately, you can re-heat them by popping them in the oven at 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4 for five minutes. You can eat them on their own. You can eat them with whipped or pouring cream (if you must). I eat mine with a lump of strong cheese (extra mature cheddar) and a glass of Pedro Ximenez sherry, if I can. Try it before you judge.
I think that no festive meal is complete without some warm and fragrant Mince Pies made with home-made vegetarian Mincemeat. They are the perfect Christmas recipe! Another of my Christmas baking recipes, which goes very well with Mince Pies, is my Cinnamon Biscuits (Cookies) flavoured with cranberries and tangerine.
Having the right sauces and accompaniments can take a festive meal to the next level. If you are preparing a special festive meal for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year you might like to try some of my other recipes for drinks, snacks, accompaniments and desserts. They are very easy and are a great way to create a celebratory festive feast!
If you are looking for a vegetarian alternative for your main course, my Mushroom and Chestnut Pies are a really good option. I make these every year for my vegetarian guests and a number of them tend to get eaten by the non-vegetarians!
Make the pastry. Put the flour in a bowl. Add the fat and combine – either by “rubbing in” by hand or processing – until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little cold water (2-3 tbsp) and shape the mixture into a dough.
If you have time, allow your pastry dough to rest for half an hour, wrapped in cling film, as this will make the resulting pastry more tender. If you do not have the time, don’t worry!
Roll out the pastry on a floured surface so that it is as thin as possible.
Using a round pastry cutter which is slightly larger than the depressions in your pie tin cut circles from your pastry. I use a 7.5 cm diameter pastry cutter which is fairly standard.
Place a circle in each of the depressions in your pie tin.
Put 2 teaspoons of mincemeat onto each pastry circle.
Using a star shaped pastry cutter, cut stars from the remainder of the pastry. Place them on top of each mound of mincemeat.
Paint the top of each star with a little milk using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with caster sugar. This will make the top of the pies golden and crunchy. (Some people add beaten egg instead but I always think it is a waste of an egg as you don’t need very much of it!)
Put the pies in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. They will be done when the pastry is golden.
Remove the pies from the tin immediately and place on a cooling rack.
This quantity of pastry and mincemeat makes approximately 12 large pies. It will vary according to how thin you roll your pastry and the size of the depressions in you pie tin.
This recipe is vegetarian (as long as you use vegetarian Mincemeat)
This Cranberry Ice Cream is made with Fresh Cranberry Sauce which gives it the added flavours of white wine, orange and cinnamon. Using Fresh Cranberry Sauce, adds an extra dimension to this ice cream and makes it the perfect seasonal pudding.
Made from left-over Cranberry Sauce….
So, there are two ways you can go with this Cranberry Ice Cream. First off, if you have made some Fresh Cranberry Sauce to eat with your Christmas dinner and you have some left over, you can use any that is left over to make this ice cream. If you go down that route – and it is super-easy to make your own cranberry sauce – then making this ice cream is a doddle.
… or specially-made Cranberry Sauce
However, if you do not happen to have any surplus Fresh Cranberry Sauce to hand – and maybe you don’t really fancy it with your Christmas dinner (or maybe its not even Christmas) – you can make a batch to use as an ingredient in puddings. I have two excellent cranberry-based puddings on this blog each of which conveniently uses half a batch of my sauce recipe. One is this Cranberry Ice Cream and the other is my Cranberry Pavlova. Both are great at Christmas or New Year, when there are a lot of fresh cranberries about, and I think they are a brilliant alternative to heavy Christmas pudding! They are both sweet and creamy with the fruity tang of cranberries.
This Cranberry Ice Cream is made with Fresh Cranberry Sauce, which not only includes cranberries but is also flavoured with white wine, orange and cinnamon, adds an extra dimension and makes it the perfect seasonal pudding.
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl until the mixture looks paler and resembles a mousse.
Put the cream in a saucepan and heat gently. Do not allow to boil – it will be the right temperature when you are just about able to bear to dip a finger in it!
Pour the cream into the bowl containing the egg yolks and sugar, whisking all the time.
Transfer the combined mixture into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water or, ideally a double-boiler, as you need to reheat it very gently.
The mixture will gradually thicken until it looks like a custard (which is what it is). Stir regularly to make sure it does not stick while it is thickening.
Remove the thick custard from the heat and transfer into a bowl.
If you are using my home-made Fresh Cranberry Sauce, you will need to use a food processor or hand-held blender to chop up the whole berries and create a rough paste before adding to the custard. If you are using smooth, ready-made Cranberry Sauce, you can just stir it into the custard.
Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and then transfer to the fridge to become thoroughly chilled.
When you are ready to make the ice-cream, transfer to your ice-cream maker and use according to your machine’s instructions. If you do not have an ice-cream maker, you can place the mixture in a freezer-proof container, put in the freezer for several hours until half-frozen. Whisk the mixture and then return to the container and replace in the freezer until totally frozen.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own Fresh Cranberry Sauce – and it honestly is very quick and easy – you can use ready-made Cranberry Sauce although the flavour will not be as good unless you can find one that includes cinnamon, orange and white wine!
Cranberry Pavlova – a meringue-based festive dessert
This Cranberry Pavlova is the perfect light and creamy, meringue-based festive dessert. It is made using left-over Fresh Cranberry Sauce which makes it super-easy to put together.
I always have a family lunch on Boxing Day and serve this pavlova as one of the desserts using sauce prepared for Christmas lunch. It is the perfect dessert for those who have eaten too much Christmas Pudding and want something which is still festive but is a bit lighter!
Making Fresh Cranberry Sauce is really quick and easy. If you haven’t got any left over, it is a matter of minutes to make it from scratch. It is a great accompaniment to a festive meal – either a traditional turkey dinner or a vegetarian alternative. Even better, it can be used as an ingredient in a range of desserts. I will often have some left over if I have made it as a meal accompaniment and sometimes in the summer I make a batch just to make desserts! You just have to make sure that the sauce has time to cool down before it is used to top your pavlova.
Fruit with flavour – cranberry, rhubarb and gooseberry
I love fruit which have a good balance of sharp and sweet flavour. Often, as with this recipe, they need to cooked to bring out their zingy flavour. In addition cranberries, I think rhubarb and gooseberries are both under-rated. If you share my love of a good old-fashioned sharp and sweet fruit recipe, you might like my Rhubarb Fool, Rhubarb Roulade or Gooseberry and Elderflower Sorbet.
One of the great things about pavlova is that while it has that show-stopping, celebratory vibe, they are actually extremely simple to produce even for inexperienced cooks. It is easy to make the meringue a day in advance and then assembling the pavlova takes a matter of minutes. I make loads of them at Christmas and New Year. In addition to my Cranberry Pavlova, some of my other favourites include Strawberry Pavlova, Rose and Raspberry Pavlova and Lemon Pavlova.
This Lemon Curd Ice Cream is my perfect summer dessert. Lemon is one of my favourite flavours – in both sweet and savoury dishes – and I love home-made ice cream. This recipe produces a rich, creamy ice cream, using a combination of double cream and Greek Yogurt, which is given a citrus zing from Lemon Curd. Some of the curd is used to flavour the ice cream and the remainder is stirred through at the end so that you get a ripple of extra tasty Lemon Curd in each mouthful!
Quick and easy, three ingredient recipe
This is probably the quickest and easiest ice cream recipe. It only has three ingredients – cream, Greek yogurt and Lemon Curd – and takes a matter of minutes to combine them. I think the ice cream tastes better if you use home-made Lemon Curd. It has a citrus zestiness that you just don’t get with the shop-bought version. I have a foolproof, quick recipe for making Lemon Curd and you can use it for lots of other things as well as ice-cream. It is great just spread on bread or as a filling for cakes or you could try making my Lemon Pavlova. However, if you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own Lemon Curd, you can use shop-bought.
You can use an ice cream maker to make this ice cream but it is not essential. If you do not have an ice-cream maker, you can place the mixture in a freezer-proof container, put in the freezer for several hours until half-frozen. Whisk the mixture and then return to the container and replace in the freezer until totally frozen.
Stir the Greek yogurt and 300 ml of the Lemon Curd into the whisked cream.
Transfer the mixture to the fridge in a covered bowl to become thoroughly chilled.
When you are ready to make the ice-cream, transfer the mixture to your ice-cream maker and use according to your machine’s instructions. If you do not have an ice-cream maker, you can place the mixture in a freezer-proof container, put in the freezer for several hours until half-frozen. Whisk the mixture and then return to the container and replace in the freezer until totally frozen.
Once the mixture has thickened, stir inn the remaining 100 ml of Lemon Curd so that it forms a “ripple” through the ice cream. Transfer to a container and keep in the freezer until you wish to eat it.
This recipe is much better if you use home-made Lemon Curd and you can find a fool-proof recipe on this blog. However, if you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own, you can use good quality shop-bought Lemon Curd.