When you’re hosting Christmas for a lot of family and friends, they’re likely to ask what they can bring. I have a little hierarchy of answers. The lowest rung is usually “Perhaps some snacky things for pre-dinner drinks” (probably they can’t go wrong with that), followed by “Salad?” (we definitely need a salad, but the day also wouldn’t be ruined if that salad doesn’t turn up). The top rung is “Can you sort out dessert?” – the pièce de résistance that can only be given to a trusted lieutenant.
So, if you’re that trusted person (lucky you!), here are my suggestions for making sure that your dessert is a showstopper.
1. Make it big!
Consider something tall, imposing and French. Why not try a croquembouche? Instead of a plain whipped cream filling, add a splash of whiskey, a pinch of cinnamon and a little brown sugar to make it an ‘eggnog croq’.
2. Make it the bombe
A bombe is an ice cream concoction frozen into a round (or roundish) mould to resemble a cannonball (hence the name). It’s easy to make and perfect for hot weather.
3. Make it expensive
Or at least seem expensive. Gild almost any dessert or cake with edible gold leaf or edible gold paint and it’ll seem that much more impressive.
4. Make it with a flower crown
If you don’t know who Caroline Calloway is then I suggest you Google her. She loves flower crowns and credited her success to a picture of rainbow macarons. Why not try a Christmas tree of macarons? And, if things go badly, charm them with your flower crown!
5. Set it alight
As a child we would set our Christmas pud alight with flaming brandy and the youngest person (me) would walk around the table trying not to set their eyebrows on fire. Oh, how things have changed since the 80s. A more enticing version of a flambé is this cherries jubilee.
6. Make it completely unexpected
Skip the desserts completely – instead, consider doing a deluxe cheese board with a good-quality port or dessert wine. Keep it bright with lots of fruit.