Sweet delights bring a happy, satisfying ending to a festive dinner. And they can be prepared ahead.

I admit to enjoying conjuring up festive desserts rather more than eating them. My desire for over-the-top Christmas dinners has diminished over the years. And after serving two courses to our family, I’m more inclined to go for a relaxing glass of bubbles.

But I love watching the happy faces of my grandchildren when the trifle, pav, cheesecake, berries and ice cream are wheeled into the dining room. I prepare sweet endings that will appeal to all family members — both young and old. The young usually say they’d like a little bit (or too much!) of everything. And little helpings of everything is exactly what they get. In restaurants they’re called tasting plates.

Steamed Christmas pudding is not something that everyone enjoys but if you like a bit of tradition then check out my microwave pudding (in my recipe collections) on the web. Make it well ahead so the flavours develop. The pud can be refrigerated or frozen and reheated in the microwave once thawed.

Serve it doused with custard, brandy sauce or one of the many yummy yoghurt dessert delights now available.


This is gluten and dairy-free. Use mini meringue nests or the larger ones, depending on appetites and number of diners. You may need to increase the ingredients. The nests are available from the bakery department of your supermarket.

10-12 mini meringue nests
3/4 cup thick coconut yoghurt eg Cathedral Cove Naturals
3/4 cup diced strawberries
10-12 each: blueberries small mint leaves

Place the meringues in a circle on a flat plate or tray. Spoon the yoghurt into the centres. Top with the berries and mint leaves.

This should be prepared at least 1 hour before enjoying or up to 8 hours. Serves 6-12.


This cheesecake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Great served topped with fresh berries.

200g plain or gluten-free biscuits, crushed
75g butter, melted
3 teaspoons powdered gelatine
2 tablespoons orange juice
200g cream cheese
3 tablespoons icing sugar
300ml cream
3/4 cup fruit mincemeat

Line the base and sides of a 20cm loose-based cake pan with baking paper.

Combine the crushed biscuits and butter and mix well. Press onto the base of the cake pan. Chill for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, soften the gelatine in the orange juice.

Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar, until smooth. Whip the cream, until thick. Fold into the cream cheese mixture.

Dissolve the gelatine over hot water or in the microwave then mix into the fruit mincemeat. Fold into the cream filling.

Spoon into the lined cake pan and smooth the top. Chill overnight to set. Serves 8.


To prevent them discolouring, sprinkle raw peaches with a little lemon juice or vitamin C powder dissolved in a little water. Poached peaches can also be used.

6 ripe peaches
4 tablespoons orange liqueur
1 cup vanilla custard
200g sponge cake
3/4 cup each: passionfruit pulp, cream (whipped)

Halve, peel, stone and thinly slice the peaches. Poach in a sugar syrup, if preferred.

Combine the liqueur with the custard. Cut the sponge into 3cm cubes.

Place some sliced peaches in the base of a serving dish. Spoon a little passionfruit pulp, over the top. Add some cubes of cake. Top with the custard, smoothing with a spoon. Add some whipped cream and smooth the top.

Carefully place more peach slices on top and drizzle with a little more passionfruit pulp. Serves 6.


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