The good pud guide: Delicate desserts can be just as festive as figgy pudding

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Christmas pudding divides people like a festive game of Monopoly. For some, the steamed mound of dried fruits and brandy is the embodiment of the festive season. Nothing can match its extravagant booziness, its weightiness, and its entrance, aflame, to the dining table. It is, to them, a bells-and-whistles dessert.

For others, and I count myself among them, it is less inviting. It is simply an excess on top of an excess, like putting icing on top of a cream cake. After a lunch consisting of pâté or soup as a starter, turkey and all the trimmings, roast potatoes and a small reservoir of bread sauce, why would you eat a pudding so dense that you can cook it with a coin in the centre without it having any discernible ill-effects?

So I put up with the arctic cold to visit Gü desserts' development kitchen in Walthamstow, North-east London. For today I will be creating my own Christmassy dessert. With the help of Gü's head chef, Fred Ponnavoy, formerly of Cecconi's in Mayfair, I will be whipping up a special version of Gü's new Christmas dessert: a festive chocolate bauble. A strange confection consisting of a football-sized perspex sphere filled with chocolate and all things indulgent, which Ponnavoy has been working on in his kitchen for 11 months.

The idea came to Ponnavoy at the Gü Christmas party last year. "I'd filled all the baubles on the tree at the party with chocolates and sweets for people to take away at the end of the night. Everyone loved it. So I thought, "why not go one better and create a Gü alternative to Christmas pudding and why not just put it in a bauble?"

The result, sitting before me on the stainless steel worksurface, is half way between a trifle and a bombe. Multi- layered, with 65 per cent cocoa chocolate ganache giving way to dark mousse with an inch-thick base of raspberry or cherry compote. It is decadent and rich but not heavy, which is exactly what Gü wanted. Today, though, it won't be the standard product we'll be making.

This afternoon, Ponnavoy and I will be tweaking the recipe slightly. Creating 10 special edition, never-to-be-remade Independent Gü baubles, signed by me and yours for the winning if you take part in the Gü competition on this page. But, the question is, what should the Independent bauble have in it? It needs to be unusual – independent, even – but still gooey enough to be Gü. So out goes the raspberry compote and in comes my own personal fruit favourites: Alphonso mangoes and passion fruit. Both fruits are mixed and made into a zesty compote.

Now what to put on top of that? We rule out a layer of chocolate sponge as a little jarring. A version made from desiccated coconut, however, seems to strike the right tropical note. The mousse has to be milk chocolate, dark being overwhelming for the mango – so an inch of it forms our third layer. At the moment with it's cloud-like, airy surface it looks like a chocolatey trifle. What's really missing is the layer of Gü chocolate ganache on the top – so on it duly goes. The five Christmas trees that stick up from the top are the crowning touch, rising from the surface like a coronet's rays.

It looks, if I do say so myself, pretty. And the taste – gooey, chocolatey and with alternating treats on every level – is as indulgent as you'd hope a Christmas dessert to be, but without the Christmas-pudding heaviness that makes you take to your bed post-lunch. As Ponnavoy points out it's fun, a conversation-starter. "We want the baubles to be a treat, something fun. What we didn't want was for it to be heavy and stodgy like a Christmas pudding. It is something you can enjoy even after Christmas lunch, and yours, I think, will be especially light."

But what if you don't win a bauble, have a chef with Michelin-star experience and half a hundredweight of chocolate to hand? Well, to see you through the festive period Fred and his staff have created three Christmassy treats that are long on wow factor and short on heaviness. Check them out below; you won't find a sixpence anywhere.

DELICIOUSLY DIFFERENT CHRISTMAS DESSERTS

COCONUT SNOWBALL PROFITEROLES

18g water
185g whole milk
160g butter
5g salt
5g caster sugar
210g flour type 45 (or plain)
7 eggs
200g whipping cream
20g caster sugar
1 tin of coconut milk
Dessicated coconut to dust

Bring to the boil water, milk, butter, salt and sugar. Add flour and stir to a paste with spatula. In a mixing bowl using the spatula incorporate the eggs bit by bit until the mixture forms soft peaks. Pre-heat the oven at 230C. Form them into profiteroles on a baking tray, place in the oven then it switch off for 10-12 minutes. Then switch back on again at 160C for around 10-15 minutes. Keep in an airtight container.

To make the chantilly cream, whip the cream with the sugar until it forms soft peak consistency.

For the coconut snow, open and pour the liquid coconut milk into a container. Freeze. When needed, pass through a food processor to create the snow.

Serve straight away or keep frozen and serve when required

To assemble, cut the choux pastry in half, place the bottom of the choux on a plate. Using the back of a spoon, spread the Chantilly cream on the top part of the choux, coat with dessicated coconut.

Pipe some coconut snow on top of the bottom part of the choux, place the top half on top and press gently. Serve at the table and pour some warm Gü chocolate ganache all around it.

EXOTIC SNOWBALL MERINGUES WITH FRUIT SALAD

2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
100g icing sugar
1 mango
Half a pineapple
2 passion fruit
Mango sorbet

To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites on a low speed to create an even structure. Add the caster sugar gradually until the mixture resembles shaving foam. Using a spatula, incorporate the icing sugar. Spoon the meringue inside a dome mould (Flexipan) making sure to create a cavity. Cook at 95C for 50 minutes. Leave to cool and carefully demould. Store in an airtight container.

Peel and cut the pineapple and the mango into small cubes. Cut the passion fruit in two and squeeze them on top of the pineapple and mango. Keep refrigerated until needed. To assemble, place a dome of meringue on to the plate and fill with some of the fruit. Using a piping bag with a nozzle, pipe some mango sorbet into another dome of meringue. Place it on top of the other dome to close the snowball. Serve straight away and pour some mango coulis around it at the table in front of your guests.

MULLED WINE GRANITA

1 bottle of red wine
2 orange peel
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod
Sugar

Cut and grate the vanilla pod, mix all the ingredients together and bring to simmer. Cool down, sieve and pour into a dish. Freeze. Agitate into a granita just before serving. Would go well with Gü's hot chocolate soufflé.

Find out how to jazz up your Christmas puds in the video (above, left)

For your chance to win one of ten Gü Mango & Passion Fruit Chocolate Baubles made especially by Gü for The Independent, send your name and address to gu.competition@independent.co.uk by 14 December 2011 at 1pm, when winners will be picked at random.

Terms & Conditions

The quality and delivery of the Gü Mango & Passion Fruit Bauble lies with the promoter, Gü Puds, and is not the responsibility of The Independent. Prizes can only be sent to a mainland UK address. Delivery will be arranged Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. For full Terms & Conditions see independent.co.uk/guterms and independent.co.uk/service/article759575.ece

Property
house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Life and Style
Bats detect and react to wind speed and direction through sensors on their wings
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living