Instead of trifle and romantica, for Christmas dessert this year my mother requested I made my lemon drizzle cake and she'd make a Bailey's cheesecake. When the drizzle cake was made, I offered to make the cheesecake while I was at it, as I love making cheesecake and don't make it as much since I moved to Dublin (my beloved doesn't care for it, and the fridge in work is just manky so you can't offload it there). I probably based the recipe off a few other cheesecakes I made years back. Before I left for Dublin, I left the recipe with my mother who gets to make it a lot more often than I do, so I just used that piece of paper instead of my memory.
It's gelatine free, the chocolate ganache isn't runny so it stays reasonably stiff. If you like, you can leave out the Baileys. Use the best chocolate you can find, there's so few ingredients that you want to use the finest you can.
I love cinnamonny things, especially on a winter evening, but you can't have mulled cider everytime you want a warm spicy treat. This spiced madeira cake is a lovely, caramelly treat that's great fresh from the oven, or taken from the freezer and toasted.
The muscavado sugar gives a lovely molasses-y flavour, and I added the nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger in my usual quantities of 1:2:3. If you had ground cloves, they might go well in the cake too. I only keep cloves for mulling though, so my cake gets a pass on that flavour.
I don't care for fruit cake, but you could add any sort of dried fruits that you think might go. Madeira cake is pretty forgiving, so you can add as much as you feel like (or none :) ).
Mulled cider is a great drink on a winter evening. Heavy on the cinnamon, warm to clutch in your frozen hands. What's not to like? (Cider itself according to himself). So I make mulled cider for one by adding some pre-spiced syrup to a single can or bottle of cider.
It's a fairly flexible recipe, so if you want it sweeter to go with a dry cider, add more sugar. Love cloves more than I do? Fire a few more in the pot. Can't find ginger root? Substitute it for crystalised ginger and remove some sugar (I think I dropped it by 50g that time). I add the juice toward the end, as I don't think it benefits from boiling. You can just quarter the oranges and throw them in at the start, but it doesnt really get as much juice out and you end up with some bitterness. If you're hosting a party, skip making the syrup and add everything bar the water to the cider and heat that for a half hour instead.
Thanks to Lidl and Clare, I now own a waffle iron. I'm still trying to figure out the optimum breakfast waffle, and have yet to try mad things like waffling brownies, but I did make a potato-corn-based-waffle for going with delicious chilli. It's not like a Potato Waffle, but as they're already perfect and available frozen by the kg, I don't need to figure those out.
This recipe makes about 6 Belgian waffles-worth. Enough for three big plates of chilli, or two chillis and some breakfast.
In my quest to learn how to make laminated doughs (think croissants), I picked up Murielle Valette's Patisserie. It's brilliant, I've even cooked more than one thing from it already (croissants, pain au chocolate, lemon tart, dense chocolate cake and the modified bakewell below). For my colleague's birthday, I insisted on making her some cake, and made a bakewell as I had all the ingredients to hand (in fact, the pastry had been made and frozen the weekend before). Instead of the apricot and almond tart in the book, I went for a raspberry bakewell, which went down very well when I brought it into work on the Monday.