Thursday, 22 December 2011

Top Tips For Christmas #4


My final tips are

Just Desserts

[yes I know that the phrase should correctly be ‘just deserts’ i.e. what you justly deserve- but I am talking puddings here!]


‘desserts’ is ‘stressed’ spelled backwards

People tend to overdo puddings at Christmas time. It is nice to have a choice – but two is fine [especially if there is a bowl of fruit as well] And if the main course has been huge then why serve pudding straightaway? Stop eating – clear the table and then sit down after the washing up has been sorted with a cup of tea/coffee [glass of wine] and something sweet. Maybe even relax in front of a good film on TV with your bowl and spoon [or plate and pastry fork]

lidl gk yogurtMake sure you have secreted in your fridge some cream, or crème fraiche [which keeps longer than cream] or clotted cream [Roddas of course!] or Greek Yogurt [I buy it by the bucketful from Lidl] and in the freezer a decent tub of vanilla ice-cream. Then you don’t need to fret about making custard.

Any pudding looks more fancy with something creamy slathered on it!

Making your own puds and sweets is easy – and there are lots of recipes on the internet. A half hour in the kitchen can yield some lovely treats [and you made them so you know what’s in them]

Annika at All The Livelong Day gives us Aunt Vera’s Sugar Tarts

sugar tartsPattypan over at Tarragon and Thyme has posted some superb recipes recently. She has peppermint creams, gingerbread squares and more [I am deeply suspicious of her Toffee Vodka though!]Over at Thrifty Household you can find great recipes for Florentines, also Turkish Delight and Limoncello

battenbergMake good use of packet mixes to produce quick and easy sweet treats [check our Frugal Queen’s cakes here] And for ‘fancy cakes’ if you don’t have time to bake, then buy some cake ‘bars’ and cut them into three and put in petit fours cases [pictured Mr K’s – but Sainsbury’s Basics range look just as effective].

iced fruit barOr get a cheap ‘iced fruit bar’ First cut it horizontally [in half or thirds, depending on depth] Now cut the slices you have made into small squares.

That will give you at least two dozen mini cakes – some with marzipan and icing – some just cubes of cake [not everyone likes Almonds. Dunno why]. Often people just want a mouthful of sweetness with their coffee – they don’t need a full blown pavlova or wedge of apple pie.

I’ve not made a Christmas pudding this year [shock! horror!] I just have a few individual Matthew Walker ones which cost pence from Approved Foods. If anybody does want one, it will take seconds to microwave. [Not 2 minutes. I mistakenly overcooked a couple the other day. They were unbelievably chewy. Sorry Bob] MW make puds for all the big supermarkets including Waitrose. They’re OK!

xmas eves pudOne final recipe. I have not road-tested this one myself yet, but I am determined to try it. It is a Christmassy take on Eve’s pudding and I found it on a Waitrose advertising leaflet which fell out of a magazine. Then I lost it, so I googled it, and discovered it has been around ages.

I have mincemeat [in a jar] and cranberries [in the freezer] and apples [in the fruit bowl] Not only have I found the recipe, but also a video on how to do it!

Waitrose Mincemeat, cranberry and almond Eve’s pudding

Alternative to Christmas pud. Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes


  • 1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped (about 300g)
  • ½ x 410g jar Waitrose Mincemeat
  • 100g fresh cranberries
  • 100g essential Waitrose Salted Dairy Butter
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 essential Waitrose Free Range Eggs, beaten
  • 75g essential Waitrose Self-Raising White Flour
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 15g flaked almonds, to finish
  • Cream or brandy butter, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4. Place the apple in a saucepan with 2 tbsp water. Stir, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes until the apple is soft. Stir in the mincemeat and cranberries. Spoon into a 1-litre shallow baking dish.
  2. For the topping, cream together the butter and caster sugar until pale and light. Beat in the eggs then fold in the flour and ground almonds to give a soft consistency.
  3. Spoon the mixture over the apple and mincemeat, spread level and scatter with the flaked almonds. Cook in the oven for 30–35 minutes or until the topping is risen and golden. Serve hot with pouring cream or brandy butter.

Cook's tip; Fresh cranberries work just as well as frozen in
this recipe.

I will report back after I have done it myself!

Thank you everyone who has commented on these tips, or been posting them as part of the Top Tips Team. I have certainly picked up some good ideas and hope others have too.

Now sit back and enjoy Christmas…


  1. We usually do the pots before having something sweet.I can't stand that 'overstuffed' feeling and leaving a little time whilst clearing up means I can have my pud and enjoy it. This year it will be a small Approved Food Christmas pud with cream for me - I love the hot and cold combination- and a choice of raspberry pavlova or chocolate gateau for the others- both of them shopbought this year!

  2. My Mum could never get away with not making custard whatever other options were there!

  3. Very sensible advice. I often don't feel like pudding after dinner.

    I'm going to ask if I can give it a miss or have a small bit later.

    Merry Christmas.

    Sft x


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