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Decadent Christmas desserts

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Christmas is a time for indulgence, whether that's lashings of gooey cheese or an entire layer of Milk Tray gone in a single sitting. Perhaps the best way of letting loose is with a truly extravagant pudding; something that goes way beyond your average fruit cake fare. As the Taste of Christmas show launches in London this weekend, we ask two of their leading chefs - Tom Herbert of The Baker Brothers and Valentine Warner - to share inspiration for a sumptuous dessert. Check out their recipes below and let the festive madness begin...

Taste Of Christmas will showcase some of the world’s finest eateries and gastro names at London’s ExCeL this weekend. Click here to book tickets

Tom Herbert's "get me out of trouble" chocolate cake

Ingredients (makes 1 big cake)

  • 250g butter
  • 250g sugar
  • 10 egg whites
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 500g good chocolate (70%)
  • Cream, to serve

Method

1. Over a gentle flame, heat a pan of water. Place the butter and chocolate in a metal bowl and cover with cling film, place on the pan and let the steam melt the chocolate. It’s important not to stir the mixture or let any moisture get into the chocolate or it may “seize” and go grainy. Take off the heat when done and pull off the cling film.

2. In an electric mixer, beat the sugar and yolks till they are pale and flurry, about 10 minutes. On a slow speed, pour in the melted chocolate and butter and beat until smooth and glossy.

3. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks; it’s easier done in a mixer if you’re not feeling hard-core. Using a metal spoon, gently fold the egg whites into the cake mixture. Add the whites in two stages: this keeps the mixture light and fluffy. Don’t overmix or the air will be lost.

4. Heat the oven to 180°C and grease a 30cm tin. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on how done you want it. I always like a slightly gooey centre. Leave to rest, then serve while still warm, with cream.

Valentine Warner's prune & brandy crème brûlée

From The Good Table published by Mitchell Beazley, photo: ©Jonthan Lovekin

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 150g pitted soft prunes
  • 150ml orange juice
  • 4 tablespoons brandy
  • Custard
  • 600ml double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
  • 4 large free-range egg yolks
  • 100g caster sugar

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 130°C. Put the prunes in a small saucepan with the orange juice and cook over a low heat for about 6–8 minutes, or until the prunes soften and become plump, stirring occasionally. Tip into a food processor and add the brandy. Blitz to a smooth, spreadable purée.

2. If the mixture looks too stiff, add a little more orange juice and blitz again.

3. Spread into the base of six 125ml ramekins.

4. To make the custard, pour the cream into a medium saucepan and into it scrape out the vanilla seeds from the pod and add the pod too.

5. Heat the cream over a very low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not allow to boil.

6. Whisk the egg yolks and half the sugar in a jug until well combined. Strain the eggs through a fine sieve into the cream. Stir well. Remove the vanilla pod.

7. Set the ramekins in a roasting tin and divide the cream mixture between them. Pour enough just-boiled water into the roasting tin to rise halfway up the outsides of the ramekins.

8. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the custard is very lightly set and still wobbles slightly in the middle. Do not allow them to overcook or they will split; separated brûlée is no fun.

9. Remove from the oven, take the ramekins out of the water and leave to cool. Once cold, transfer the dishes to the fridge and leave to chill overnight.

10. About an hour before serving, sprinkle the custards with the remaining sugar and either pop under a very hot preheated grill or use a chef’s blowtorch to caramelise the sugar. Refrigerate and then serve.

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