Dessert, I have to confess is my favourite part of any meal and I like to taste different flavours and not be restricted by just one. I’ve conjured up three small desserts, choose any one, or all three which will all serve four people.
Baileys Original Irish Custard
An Irish version of Italian Pana cotta, thick custard is spiked with Bailey’s Irish cream and the results are pretty impressive. Make this one the day before the party. Looks impressive, takes little effort. These look really pretty in small flip top jars but will work equally well in ramekins. I topped mine with Rococo Chicchi di Caffe, small dark chocolate coffee beans, from one of my favourite chocolate shops, but Ocado sell Montezuma’s Bean Machine and that shaved over the top of each on the night you serve, would be perfect.
I made a few ginger biscuits to go with this dessert, my nod towards Whisky and Ginger which I believe a few people enjoy as a tipple. These can be made at the same time and stored in an airtight container. If you’re serving the trio, this might be a step too far, but if you choose the custard as your only dessert then these biscuits would work fabulously.
This recipe serves 4. It Takes 15 minutes to prepare and overnight to set.
80g caster sugar, I use Billingtons unrefined
210ml Avonmore double cream
100ml whole milk
75ml Baileys Original Irish Cream
2 sheets of gelatine
Put the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water and leave to stand until softened, you’ll see they crumple up. Put the cream, along with the milk and sugar in a pan and bring slowly to the boil. Stir until the sugar has completely melted. Take off the heat and remove the gelatine from the cold water, squeeze in your hand to remove the excess water and add to the cream mixture until it dissolves. Then pour in the Baileys Original. Leave to cool. Ladle the mixture into your serving dishes. Cover with cling wrap (or if you’ve got lidded jars, close them) and chill in the fridge overnight.
Ginger snap biscuits
This recipe is enough for at least four of these moreish biscuits per serving. It takes 10 minutes to prepare and up to 10 minutes to bake.
50g softened Kerrygold butter
50g caster sugar
2 egg whites, use Golden Irish Cornfed mixed-size free-range eggs
50g plain flour
1 tsp ground ginger
Grease a baking sheet and pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C for fan assisted/400F or gas mark 6. If you have parchment paper this will work well too, I use a Lekue non-stick cooking mat.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, you can use a hand whisk if the butter is soft enough. Start to beat in the eggs a little at a time, be careful not to curdle the mixture, which will happen if you have no patience. Add some flour if you see the mixture splitting, and continue to beat.
Sift the flour and ground ginger over the mix and fold this in gently.
Put the mixing bag into a piping bag (I use the disposable ones from Lakeland that just tear off a roll) and a plain nozzle (P6/11mm).
Pipe small fingers on the baking sheet, leaving room for them to spread. Tap the tray to release any air bubbles then bake for up to 7 minutes until the biscuits turn pale golden with browner edges.
Vanilla Cream Rhubarb Tart
Rhubarb is grown widely in Ireland and is in season now. I love rhubarb, custard and pastry so have combined all three ingredients to create a crisp, tart and creamy dessert. This looks something like a Mark Rothko painting which makes it beautiful to stare at before you eat it. This needs to be made on the day of your party. No one likes flabby pastry.
This recipe serves 4 people. It takes 40 minutes to prepare and up to 30 minutes to bake.
A knob of fresh ginger peeled and cut into slithers
1 packet of fresh all-butter pastry
1 egg to glaze
Ingredients for Creme Patisserie
2 medium egg yolks, use Golden Irish Cornfed mixed-size free-range eggs
30g caster sugar
7 g plain flour
175 ml whole milk (this has to be whole milk)
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
Icing sugar for dusting the top to prevent a skin from forming.
Begin by making the Creme Patisserie.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until they turn a pale gold colour.
Whisk in the flour and cornflour and set aside. Put the milk and vanilla bean paste in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stir frequently to stop the bottom ‘catching’. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 30 seconds.
Pour half of the hot milk onto the egg mixture and whisk continuously, then return the mixture to the remaining milk. Pour the hot milk onto the cold eggs slowly or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. Add heat and bring to the boil, simmer for one minute and whisk continuously, or until smooth.
Pour your custard cream into a bowl and dust with icing sugar to prevent a skin forming. Place in a bowl of cold water, I used the sink, to bring the temperature down quickly. When cool enough put in the fridge.
With the custard sorted, move onto the pastry and rhubarb.
The key here is to remove the pastry from the fridge, half an hour before you need to use it. I’m afraid I cheat and use shop-bought puff pastry, if you’ve got the time then by all means, there’s no denying you get better results, but mass-produced pastry doesn’t do a bad job either.
Preheat the oven to 200/180 for fan assisted or gas mark 6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll out the pastry to about 0.5cms depth. Then cut squares about 15 x 15 cms. Put the leftover pastry in cling wrap and keep in the fridge to use later. You can also freeze it (if you’ve not frozen it before). Measure a border of about 1cm from the edge and score a deep box around the pastry square, the aim here is to frame the rhubarb and give the tart an edge when the pastry rises, so be sure not to cut through to the other side. Now you have your ‘box’ measure the rhubarb against it and cut it to fit inside.
Add the cut rhubarb to a shallow frying pan filled with enough cold water to cover the surface. Add as much shaved ginger as you like as the flavour will infuse the poaching juice.
Add some gentle heat and keep a close eye on the rhubarb as it begins to cook. You want it to cook but not break up so keep a close eye on the fibres and turn so both sides are equally cooked. Remove the custard from the fridge and roughly divide it into four portions in the bowl. Add the portioned custard to each of your pastry frames and add four slices of rhubarb to fit.
Glaze the exposed pastry and the sides of each square.
Use a fish slice to gently lift each on the baking sheet. Place it on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake for up to 30 minutes – take a peek at 25 minutes and if done, remove. Place the tarts on a cooling rack and brush each tart with the syrup mix used to poach the rhubarb. Add a spot of water to the pan to loosen it up if you need to. Refrigerate for when needed.
Whisky Spiked Melting Middle Chocolate Pudding
My last dessert is a Whisky-Filled Melting Middle Chocolate Pudding, one of my favourites, that oozes rich chocolate and in this particular recipe Irish Whisky or you can use Baileys Original too.
This recipe serves 4. It takes 15 minutes to prepare and up to 12 minutes to bake.
85g dark chocolate (70% cocoa) broken into pieces
85g unsalted butter, cubed plus a little extra for greasing
2 medium eggs, Golden Irish Cornfed free range – if available
85g caster sugar – again I use Billingtons unrefined
30g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp Irish whisky/Baileys Original
Icing sugar for dusting
Vanilla spiked whipped cream
170ml double cream
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and grease 6 small moulds – I use Silverwood.
Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over simmering water or use your microwave on the lowest setting (I use mine on 600 in 20 second intervals) to melt. Remove and leave to stand to cool for 5 minutes, add the Irish Whisky or Baileys.
Using an electric whisk, beat together the eggs and sugar in a bowl until thick and pale and then slowly whisk in the chocolate and butter.
When it’s all mixed, sift in the flour, cocoa powder and fold in gently with a metal spoon.
Divide the mixture between the moulds and place in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes until firm on top and starting to come away from the sides of the moulds. Check at around 8 minutes as ovens vary. Stand for 2 minutes before turning out onto plates. Dust with icing sugar.
For the vanilla spiked double cream, whip up the pot of cream and stir in the vanilla paste. Dot each pudding with a generous spoon of thick, vanilla-studded cream.