IF you're looking for an easy dessert to impress the guests at Christmas, try this no-bake Chocolate Sherry Log by TV chef Poh Ling Yeow of MasterChef fame.
Here's what she has to say about it:
"I have many memories of Mum making this when we first migrated to Australia - the amazing no-bake cake!
"When Jono and I were married in Penguin, Tasmania, two years ago, I wanted everything to be fuss-free because my mother-in-law, Ann, was very unwell.
"Seeing as this was also something Ann used to make, I thought it would be great fun for each family member to make sections of this into the shape of a heart. The end result was more heart shape 'inspired', but I'm certain it remains the most endearing wedding cake ever made."
Feeds about 10
- 500ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) thickened (whipping) cream
- 50g icing (confectioners') sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR vanilla essence
- 250-500ml (1-2 cups) sweet sherry OR any liqueur (Frangelico or kirsch is very nice)
- 1 packet chocolate-flavoured biscuits (cookies) such as chocolate ripple
- 50g (1/2 cup) toasted flaked almonds (see note in Basic Nut Praline recipe below)
1. Whisk the cream, icing sugar and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl until stiff peaks form. Pour the sherry into a separate bowl, and have your serving plate ready - a long, rectangular one is ideal for the log.
2. Begin by roughly spreading a line of cream along the centre of the serving plate, on which to form the log. Dip a biscuit in the sherry, then spread about a teaspoonful of cream on it. Repeat the process, sandwiching the biscuits together until you cover the length of the platter or run out of biscuits.
3. Spread more cream over the entire surface of the log, then cover with the flaked almonds. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill for a minimum of 5 hours or overnight before serving. Cut on a diagonal to serve.
Basic Nut Praline
I'm not going to lie. These are dangerously moreish - possibly my favourite holiday-season snack. You can use praline for desserts, but I like to crack these deep amber pools of nut-studded goodness into generous-sized shards and wrap them in cellophane to make stunning Christmas gifts. Warning! Do not refrigerate, or the caramel will turn into a liquid, sticky mess. Keep in an airtight container at room temperature.
Makes about 650 g (1 lb 7 oz) of praline
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) of your favourite nuts (choose the freshest ones possible)
- 150 g (51/2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) fan-forced (see note below).
2. Spread out the nuts in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until deep golden. If skins are on hazelnuts, they should be flaking off. Shake the nuts in a colander with large holes to be rid of the skins. Otherwise, tip them into a clean tea towel, and rub gently to remove the skins. Roughly chop any larger nuts such as macadamias. Scatter the roasted nuts on a baking tray lined with baking paper - make sure they aren't spaced too far apart or you'll get really large areas of caramel that will become jaw-breakers!
3. To make the caramel, combine the sugar and water in a non-stick, heavy-based saucepan. Stir to dissolve a little, then do not stir the mixture again. Boil over high heat until the caramel turns a pale golden colour. At this stage, watch closely, as it will turn from an ideal rich golden brown to smoking black within seconds - although using a non-stick pot will slow things down a little.
4. Remove the caramel from the heat a little before it turns the colour you like because it will keep getting darker very quickly. Immediately pour the caramel over the nuts. Allow to set completely, before breaking into large shards.
5. If you want to use the praline for a bit of crunch and bitterness in a dessert, chop into a coarse crumb or pound very softly using a mortar and pestle, to avoid the caramel compressing into a dense, sticky clump.
For finer, processed nuts such as slivered or flaked almonds, or pine nuts, reduce the oven temperature to 160°C (320°C) fan-forced. Roast for 7 minutes or until golden brown.
- Edited excerpt from Poh Bakes 100 Greats by Poh Ling Yeow (Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99). Photography by Alan Benson.