This is where I come to the rescue. Because I am one of your tribe, particularly when it comes to the sweet treats of the festive season.
I don't like dried fruits. I find them overwhelmingly sweet and as a result, Christmas cake, plum pudding, mince pies and all sorts of other specialities of the Christmas season are off the menu for me (although I must admit I enjoyed these when I made them for my boyfriend last week).
Instead, I prefer my festive fancies to look more like this:
A layer of crunchy hazelnut meringue, a decadent chocolate cream and whipped cream offset by tart raspberries - could there be a better dessert?
This dessert is adapted from a recipe by Delia Smith. Here's what you need to do if, like me, you plan to treat yourself this Christmas.
225g/8oz golden caster sugar
4 large egg whites
140g/5oz dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
400ml double cream
160g/5 and a half oz raspberries (I use frozen raspberries at this time of year)
One baking tray measuring 10x14 inches (or 25.5 x 35cm), lined with baking parchment
- Preheat the oven to 190 C/375 F/gas mark 5.
- Toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet at the top of the oven for 6 minutes. You want them to look like this:
- Cool and grind in a food processor until finely chopped. Be careful not to overprocess or they will turn oily. What you want is something that looks like this:
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean, grease-free bowl until they form soft peaks
- Whisk in the caster sugar a little at a time.
- Fold in the ground hazelnuts using a metal spoon.
- Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared tin.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes.
- Cool and then turn out on to a piece of parchment paper that is slightly larger than the roulade and gently ease away the lining.
- Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Whip the cream and divide it between two bowls.
- Reserve four tablespoons of chocolate for decoration and add the rest to one bowl of whipped cream. Spread it over the meringue to within half an inch or one centimetre of the edge.
- Spread the whipped cream over the chocolate layer:
- Then stud with the raspberries, like so:
- You now have two options. If you're confident of your roulade-rolling skills, you can roll this into a swiss roll shape. You do this by placing the meringue so that its long side faces you. You then use the paper to assist you in rolling the meringue to form a long log shape.
- You're not supposed to worry about the meringue cracking as it's all supposed to be part of the charm. But my meringue always seems to crack a little too much. So, I usually just skip the rolling part and simply drizzle this flat (but no less delicious) confection with my remaining melted chocolate.
(My latest - not so successful - attempt at rolling a roulade)
- If you're braver and more skilled than me and succeed in rolling your roulade properly, all you need to do is make sure the seam is at the base of the roulade and drizzle it with chocolate. Then, stand back and marvel at the beauty of what you've created.