Top 5 favourite Cristmas desserts

1. Cristmas pudding.

Cristmas pudding is favourite festive dessert, according to a new poll. But, more surprisingly, the traditional Christmas dessert – famous for typically rounding off family lunches across the country on 25 December – is actually only a favourite of one third of the nation.

Packed with plump fruits and warming brandy, this Christmas pudding is the perfect festive treat. Serve with thick vanilla custard.


– 385g Sainsbury’s mixed dried fruit
– 80g Sainsbury’s ready-to-eat dried figs, roughly chopped
– 75g Sainsbury’s glacé cherries, roughly chopped
– 100ml basics brandy, plus some for flaming
– 1 small cooking apple, peeled cored and grated
– 1 small orange, zest and juice
– 100g shredded suet (vegetarian if you wish)
– 3 medium British free-range Woodland eggs by Sainsbury’s, beaten
– 100g Sainsbury’s ground almonds
– 200g soft muscovado sugar
– 140g self-raising flour
– 20g Sainsbury’s almonds, halved
– 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice by Sainsbury’s
– ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon by Sainsbury’s


Grease a 1 litre pudding basin. Put the mixed fruit, dried figs and glacé cherries into large pan with the brandy and bring to the boil; turn down and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid and leave to soak overnight.

Mix together the cooking apple, orange juice and zest, suet, beaten eggs, ground almonds, sugar, and flour in a large mixing bowl.

Stir in the soaked fruit, almonds, mixed spice and cinnamon. Pour into the greased basin. Cover the basin with 2 large circles of greaseproof paper and one of tin foil and secure around the top of the basin with string. Make a handle across the basin with the string.

Place the basin in a large saucepan, with a lid, and pour in boiling water until it comes half way up the basin. Cover with the lid and steam for 2 hours. Allow to cool, then wrap the whole basin in foil and store until Christmas (see tip).

One hour and 30 minutes before you want to serve the pudding, place into a large saucepan, as before, and steam for 1 hour and 30 minutes until cooked through and springy to touch.

To serve, pour over a couple of tablespoons of brandy and light the pudding. Serve with brandy butter, cream or vanilla custard.

Cook’s tip: This pudding will keep in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.

2. Yule log.

The next most popular sweet treat is a chocolate Yule log, according to the survey of 1,000 members of the British public, with the younger among us preferring the chocolate Yule log over Christmas pudding.


For the Genoese sponge:
20g (¾ oz) Stork, melted
85g (3 oz) caster sugar
3 medium eggs
85g (3 oz) self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

For the icing:
85g (3 oz) Stork
225g (8 oz) icing sugar, sieved with
2 tablespoons cocoa
2-3 teaspoons semi skimmed milk
2 tablespoons chestnut puree

For the Praline:
55g (2 oz) caster sugar
55g (2 oz) pecan nuts
Large pinch sea salt crystals

Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk over gently simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water) until light and thick and mix leaves a ribbon trail when whisk is lifted out. Gently fold in the flour and cocoa using a spatula and finally drizzle in the melted Stork and fold in.

Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 32 x 20cm (13 x 8 inches) Swiss roll tin and gently spread evenly.

Bake in preheated oven 200°C, 190°C fan, Gas mark 6 for 10 – 12 minutes until springy to the touch and slightly shrinking from the sides. Remove from oven and turn out onto a sheet of baking parchment sprinkled with sugar.

Trim edges and roll up with the parchment paper inside. Leave to cool.

Place ingredients for icing in a bowl and beat together until smooth. Gently unroll Swiss roll and spread half the icing over. Re-roll without the greaseproof paper, then cover the surface with remaining icing. Mark with a fork to resemble a log.

For the praline, place the ingredients in a heavy based pan and place over a gentle heat. Shake the pan at intervals until the sugar melts and turns a golden caramel colour. Turn out onto parchment paper and leave to cool. Use a rolling pin to break into smaller pieces and use to scatter over the log. Lightly dust with icing sugar.

Decorate with marzipan holly leaves and berries if liked.

3. Mince pies.

Mince pies – which can be eaten at any time of day, hot and cold and served alongside ice cream, custard and brandy butter, comes in third place.

– 225g/8oz plain flour
– A pinch of salt
– 100g/4oz chilled butter, diced
– 3-4 tbsp cold water
– 225g/8oz mincemeat
– Milk for brushing
– Caster sugar for sprinkling
– Whipped cream or brandy butter (see below) to serve


Lightly grease a 12-hole patty tin.
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and, using your fingertips, lightly rub it into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add the water, stirring with a blunt knife, until the mixture begins to come together. Add extra water if necessary.

Gather the dough together and knead it gently, very briefly, on a lightly floured surface. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C, 375°F, Gas 5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out just over half the pastry and stamp out 12 circles using a 7.5cm/3in fluted cutter.

Gently press these circles into the prepared patty tin. Spoon the mincemeat evenly between the pastry cases.
Roll out the remaining pastry and stamp out 12 circles using a 6cm/2 1/2in cutter. Dampen the edges of the pastry circles with a little water, then place them on top of the pies in the patty tin, dampenededges down. Pinch the edges together to seal.

Brush the tops with a little milk then sprinkle with caster sugar. Using a sharp knife, cut little holes or a slit in the top of each pie.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is cooked and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and leave the pies in the tin to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or brandy butter.

4. Sherry trifle.

On the fourth place is the lighter dessert option, than Mince pie – trifle.

-150g Madeira cake
-1 Jar Cottage delight sherry trifle jam
-6 tablespoons sweet sherry
-175g raspberries
-350ml custard
-250ml whipping cream
-30g flaked almonds, toasted

1. Cut the Madeira cake into 10 thin slices and sandwich together with the jam sherry trifle jam

2. Cut each piece in half again and place into a large glass bowl

3. Gently heat the remaining Cottage Delight Sherry Trifle jam in a sauce pan, until you have a runny consistency. Spoon over a layer of jam onto the sponge, then add the sherry, sprinkle with raspberries and pour over the custard

4. Whip the cream until soft and spoon it over the custard. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and serve.

5. Christmas cake.

Christmas cake takes the fifth spot of the ‘Traditional Treats’ survey by

Rich dried fruits, nuts and a dash of brandy go into this delicious, no hassle Christmas cake – a classic, tried-and-tested recipe.


-200g Fairtrade dark soft brown sugar
-175g unsalted English butter by Sainsbury’s, plus extra for greasing
-500g Sainsbury’s mixed dried fruits
-100g dried cranberries
-100g Sainsbury’s ready to eat dried figs, roughly chopped
-100ml basics brandy, plus 3 tablespoons for drizzling
-Zest and juice 1 orange
-100g macadamia nuts
-4 medium British free-range eggs by Sainsbury’s, lightly beaten
-75g Sainsbury’s ground almonds
-250g plain flour
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1 teaspoon ground mixed spice by Sainsbury’s
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon by Sainsbury’s
-350g Sainsbury’s golden marzipan
-Icing sugar, for dusting
-4 tablespoons apricot jam, warmed
-350g Sainsbury’s ready to roll white icing
-60g redcurrants (for decoration)
-1 egg white, lightly beaten (for decoration)
-3 tablespoons granulated sugar (for decoration)


1. Put the sugar, butter, dried fruit, cranberries, figs, brandy, orange zest and juice into a large, heavy-based pan. Bring to the boil, stirring well to combine the ingredients. Reduce to a simmer and heat for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool for 20 minutes.

2. Stir the macadamia nuts, eggs and ground almonds into the mixture, then fold in the flour, baking powder and spices.

3. Preheat the oven to 140°C, fan 120°C, gas 1. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm cake tin with 2 layers of baking paper. Spoon the cake mixture into the tin and level the top with the back of a spoon. Loosely cover with 1 layer of greaseproof paper with a 2cm hole in the centre. Bake for 2 hours or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Using a skewer, make holes in the cake and drizzle over the remaining brandy. Cool in the tin on a wire rack.

4. Remove the cake from the tin. On a surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out enough marzipan to cover the whole of the cake. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the apricot jam, then top with the marzipan. Smooth down the top and sides, being careful to stop any creases forming.

5. Roll out the white icing on a surface dusted with icing sugar until the icing is large enough to cover the whole cake. Brush the marzipan all over with the apricot jam and then cover with the white icing.

6. To decorate the cake; Dip the redcurrants in the egg white and sprinkle over the sugar. Arrange on top of the cake and wrap with a ribbon if you have one, before serving.

Cook’s tip: If you have time, soak the dried mixed fruits the night before in a little extra brandy and proceed with the recipe next day – this creates an even more moist cake.

When it comes to favourite festive drinks, homemade alcoholic cocktails win. Over a third opted for Bucks Fizz, while a quarter prefer Irish Coffee and mulled wine. Other cocktails in the mix include eggnog, buttered rum, Mojito and Kir Royal.


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