Food & Drink

Christmas desserts with the wow factor

Niall McKenna shares how to make the perfect chocolate roulade and sherry trifle

Delicious chocolate roulade with cream and redcurrants
Niall McKenna's chocolate roulade with redcurrants

With Christmas dinner being a meal many of us look forward to all year, it’s always a bonus to top it off with a ‘wow-factor’ dessert. This week’s recipes - a chocolate roulade and a sherry trifle - will make your Christmas Day dinner even more tasty. You and your guests will be running back for more...

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Read more:

Recipes: Niall McKenna’s contemporary twist on trad Christmas dishes – roast potatoes, stuffing and Brussels sprouts

Christmas Recipes: Niall McKenna’s Christmas pudding and cranberry sauce

Recipes: Niall McKenna’s souper stars – French Onion Soup and classic Italian Ribollita Soup

Chocolate Roulade with Redcurrants

(Serves 8)

  • Butter
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 60g cocoa powder plus extra for dusting
  • Icing sugar for dusting

For the filling:

  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 250g redcurrants

To begin, preheat the oven to 160C before lining a Swiss roll tin (approximately 23cm in size) and grease with butter, setting to the side.

Place the egg yolks and caster sugar into a large bowl, whisking until the mix is thick and creamy. Next, sift the cocoa powder over the mixture, continuing to whisk until it is mixed thoroughly.

In a second bowl, whisk the egg whites (cleaning your mixer before doing this) until they reach soft peaks. Then fold in a third of the egg whites to the cocoa mix, gently folding in the rest until the mixture is evenly distributed. Pour into the tin, spreading the mix into the corners.

Place into the centre of the oven and bake for up to 20 minutes. Note that this will not rise as there is no flour in it, but it will shrink away from the sides of the tin. Once the time has passed, remove from the oven and loosen from the sides with a palette knife. Leave to cool.

To make the filling, whip the cream and icing sugar together until it is thick enough to stand in soft peaks.

Next, remove the redcurrants from their stalks. Before placing the cake onto a clean piece of greaseproof paper, cover the cake with the cream and scatter with redcurrants. At one end of the cake, start to turn it over, rolling it into itself. Do not squeeze too tightly as you don’t want the cream filling to squeeze out. Roll until all of the cake is turned into itself and dust with caster sugar.

Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Delicious sherry trifle for Christmas day dessert
Niall McKenna's sherry trifle
Sherry Trifle
  • 100g-150g fruit (strawberries, blueberries, cherries. Choice of fruit is entirely optional)
  • Sponge pieces (optional)

For the jelly:

  • 220ml water
  • 150g ripe strawberries (or other seasonal fruit, note that very acidic fruit can alter the jelly)
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 6g leaf gelatine (2-3 sheets)

For the custard:

  • 300ml single cream
  • ½ vanilla pod
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 2tsp cornflour

For the topping:

  • 250ml whipping cream
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 30g chocolate shaved for garnish

For the jelly:

Into a pan, put water, strawberries and sugar and bring to the boil, lowering the heat to a gentle simmer for about eight-ten minutes.

Meanwhile, soak the gelatine in a shallow bowl of cold water for a minute, or until soft.

Remove the pan from the heat, straining the strawberries through a sieve and pushing some of the pulp through. Then squeeze out the water from the gelatine and add to the hot strained syrup and stir until fully dissolved. Leave the jelly to cool, but don’t let it set.

Place the fruit (and sponge) into one glass serving dish and pour over half of the cooled liquid jelly before leaving it in the fridge to set. Repeat with another quarter of the fruit and jelly, leaving to set.

For the custard:

Pour the single cream into a small saucepan, splitting the vanilla pod lengthways and scraping the seeds out with the point of a knife and adding to the cream. Slowly bring to the boil, removing from the heat and leaving to infuse for around ten minutes. In a bowl, mix the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together.

Next, remove the vanilla pod and pour the cream onto the egg mixture, mixing well with a whisk. Return to the pan, cooking gently over a low heat and stirring consistently with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens - be careful not to let it boil.

Remove from the heat, giving it a final mix with a whisk. Transfer to a bowl and lay a sheet of cling film on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming on the surface. Leave to cool for approximately 30 minutes.

Once the jelly has set, spoon the cooled custard over the top, covering it to leave to sit in the fridge for a further half hour or so.

For the topping:

Whisk the cream and sugar until fairly firm and keep in the fridge until the custard and jelly has set. Lastly, spoon over the dish and finish with shaved chocolate.