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Kitchen Index Irish Kitchen Library

Christmas Desserts Two

More Irish Farmhouse Holiday Desserts and Sauces
Contributed by Hartson Dowd

Apple, Mincemeat and Nut Strudel
This is a Christmas party dessert which will serve 8 people very generously; perfect for a buffet lunch. Filo or strudel pastry is wonderful for storing in the freezer as you can just take out a few sheets as and when you need them (remember they take about 3 hours to thaw), and because there's no fat in it, you can happily re-freeze what you don't use. If you hate making pastry and want something very simple to make, this is it!

4 Bramley or Granny Smith cooking apples, weighing about 1-1/4 pounds
8 oz mincemeat
4 oz almonds or pecans, chopped and lightly toasted under the grill, or 2 oz walnuts (but do not toast them)
1 heaping teaspoon soft brown sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
1/2 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 oz (25 g) white breadcrumbs
2 oz (50 g) unsalted butter
4 sheets strudel pastry (from a defrosted 1 lb pack)
Powdered confectioner's sugar

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F
2. Generously grease a large heavy baking sheet (15 x 11)
3. Peel and core the apples and slicing them very thinly into a large bowl, sprinkling in the sugar as you slice. Then add the mincemeat, orange and lemon zest, spices and half the nuts. Mix thoroughly.
4. In a small bowl mix together the remaining and breadcrumbs.
5. Melt the butter. Now you are ready for the pastry. Remove your first sheet from the pack and arrange it over the baking sheet; it will overlap it but that doesn't matter.
6. Brush the entire sheet with melted butter, then sprinkle one third of the nuts and breadcrumb mixture all over. Put the second sheet directly over the first and repeat exactly. Then the third sheet followed by the butter and the last of the almonds and breadcrumbs. Now put the last sheet of pastry on top of the rest, brush with butter, and place the apple and mincemeat filling all along the pastry lengthways in a band about 3 and 1/2 inches from the edge of the baking sheet.
7. Now imagine you're making a giant sausage roll and begin by bringing one edge of the pastry leaves lengthways over the filling and the other edge up and over that. Turn the whole thing over so that the pastry join is underneath and place the strudel centered on the baking sheet. Now pinch the ends together and tuck them under, making a sausage about 14 inches long. Brush the whole surface with the remaining butter and bake in the centre of the oven for 40-45 minutes or until it turns a golden-brown. Cool the strudel for 15 minutes, then dust it thickly with powdered sugar and serve cut into slices with ice cream or chilled whipped cream.
Serves 8

Light Christmas Pudding
If there are still people who claim not to like our splendid Traditional Christmas Pud, then this one could be for them. It's a light sponge pudding which contains mincemeat, chopped apple and mace so that the Christmassy flavour is there, plus, with an attractive arrangement of whole candied peel, it looks very pretty when its turned out.

4 oz. butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
1 piece candied citron peel
2 piece whole candied orange peel
2 pieces whole candied lemon peel
4 oz soft light brown sugar
2 large eggs
6 oz. self rising flour, sifted
1/3 level teaspoon ground mace
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Grated zest 1 small lemon
Grated zest 1 orange
Medium cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped small
3 rounded tablespoons mincemeat
You will also need a 2 pint pudding basin - the rounded-based sort is best.

1. Prepare the basin by buttering it lightly and arranging the candied peel in the base. Snip the citron peel into 1/2 inch strips and arrange these in an overlapping circle in the centre of the base of the basin; you need something that resembles a flower. Then, using a sharp pair of scissors, snip the whole candied peels lengthways into strips, but leaving the end intact. Imagine five fingers attached to a hand and you've got it. Now arrange these around the 'flower', spreading out the strips as much as possible.
2. Now, for the pudding, simply beat the sugar and butter with an electric hand whisk until the mixture is pale and creamy and drops off a spoon easily with a sharp tap. Then beat the eggs in a jug and add these a tiny amount at a time, whisking well after each addition. When all the liquid egg is incorporated, carefully fold in the sifted flour, mace and salt, followed by the lemon juice, grated lemon and orange zest, chopped apple and finally the mincemeat.
3. Spoon the mixture into the basin, being careful to leave your artistic arrangement intact. Tie a double piece of pleated foil on to the basin, place it in a steamer over boiling water and steam for 2-1/2 hours.
4. When the pudding is completely cold you can turn it out, wrap it well and freeze until needed.
5. Take it out of the freezer late on Christmas Eve and re-steam on Christmas Day for 1-1/2 hours. Serve cut in slices with Hot Punch Sauce
Serves 8

Hot Punch Sauce
This is a wonderful, very boozy sauce which, once tasted, makes you wonder why we ever bother to put alcohol in puddings. The sauce can be made well in advance, as long as you re-heat it gently and don't let it boil.

Thinly pared outer rind of 1/2 medium range
Thinly pared outer rind of 1/2 large lemon
2 oz caster sugar
Juice of 1 medium orange
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 rounded dessert spoon plain flour
3 oz. (75 g) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons rum
2 tablespoons brandy
6 fl oz dry or medium sherry

1. First prepare the orange and lemon zests, and to do this it's best to use a potato peeler and pare off the outer zest, leaving the white pith behind. What you need is 4 strips of each zest measuring approximately 2 x 1 inch Then, using a sharp knife, cut the strips into very thin, needle-like shreds. Now pop these into a medium-sized saucepan, along with the sugar and 10 fl oz water, bring everything up to a slow simmer and let it simmer as gently as possible for 15 minutes.
2. While the zest is simmering, squeeze the juice from the orange and lemon.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and butter together to form a paste.
4. When the 15 minute simmer is up, add the orange and lemon juice, along with the rum, brandy and sherry, and bring it all back up to a gentle heat. 5. Now add the paste to the liquid in small, peanut-sized pieces, whisking as you add them, until they have dissolved and the sauce has thickened. 6. Serve the sauce hot in a warmed serving jug and, if you make it in advance, re-heat it gently without letting it come to the boil

Serve some sauce spooned over each portion of Light Christmas Pudding and hand the rest around separately.
Serves 8

Brandy Butter
Brandy Butter is excellent not only with mince pies but also with the Light or Traditional Christmas Puddings or the Apple, Mincemeat and Nut Strudel.

6 tablespoons brandy
6 oz (175 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 oz (175 g) soft dark brown sugar

You can either blend the butter and sugar together till pale, soft and creamy in a food processor or else use an electric hand whisk. When you have a pale smooth mixture you can gradually add the brandy, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Taste and add more brandy if you think it needs it! Then place the butter in a container and chill thoroughly before serving. It is important, I think, to serve this very cold so that it can provide a wonderful contrast to the hot mince pies or pudding. It will keep for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator, so it's not really worth freezing.

Images: Country Kitchen from Barewalls.

Of course there will always be Christmas Pudding. Click for a complete article on centuries old Christmas pud.

For more Christmas Desserts, click Christmas Desserts One.


Sat, Nov 21, 2015

"...the freshest of food and
the oldest of drink"
- Irish Proverb

The New Irish Table
by Margaret Johnson

Margaret Johnson’s love of Ireland permeates page after glorious page of mouthwatering Irish dishes, from Smoked Salmon Chowder to Raspberry Buttermilk Tarts. Lavish color photographs of the food, the landscapes, and the people are woven through the text, making The New Irish Table the next best thing to sitting down to dinner in Ireland itself.
Click here for New Irish Table.


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