Two showstopping Christmas desserts. The first is a choco-pistachio choux bun spectacular: three buns a head will make a generous serving, and, if you have more guests, just make more buns and build a taller tower. The second is a festive take on Big Mamma’s signature tiramisu, and is a great way to use up leftover or old panettone (or to add a spiced, fruity twist to the traditional classic). Bear in mind, too, that I always weigh out liquids for baking – it’s just so much more precise – so I recommend you do the same.
All I want for Christmas is choux (pictured top)
Prep 20 minCook 1 hr 40 minServes 4 (and easily upscaleable)
For the choux (makes 12 buns)60g whole milk60g water3g granulated sugarA pinch of fine salt50g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes60g all-purpose flour3 eggs, lightly beaten
For the custard filling70g whole milk 70g double cream ¼ vanilla pod, seeds scraped out 2 egg yolks20g granulated sugar 10g cornflour 20g unsalted butter120g cold whipping cream
For the chocolate sauce80g water120g granulated sugar40g good cocoa powder – ie, Green & Black’s or another sugar-free versionA pinch of fine salt
For the pistachio spread100g white chocolate⅓ tsp vegetable oil60g pistachio paste – we like Pariani or Anthap
Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5. For the choux, put the milk, water, sugar, salt and cubed butter in a medium saucepan, and heat gently until the butter melts (it should do so before the mix starts simmering). When the butter has melted, bring slowly to a boil, then take off the heat, throw in all the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the pan.
If you have a stand mixer, put the dough in the bowl and, with the flat beater, start mixing. Add the beaten eggs little by little, and carry on mixing until it’s shiny and smooth. If you don’t have a stand mixer, put the dough in a bowl, then beat in the eggs little by little with a spatula. Once the dough is ready, put it in a piping bag.
Line a large oven tray (or trays) with a sheet of baking paper. Cut 1cm off the end of the piping bag, then, one by one, pipe balls of the choux dough on to the tray(s), leaving a 3cm gap between each one, so they have space to expand in the oven. Turn down the hot oven to 185C (165C fan)/360F/gas 4½, put in the tray and bake for about 20 minutes. Turn down the oven again, this time to 170C (150C fan)/340F/gas 3½, open the door slightly, so the steam can escape, and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the choux buns and leave to cool.
Now for the custard. Gently heat the milk, cream, vanilla pod and seeds in a saucepan. Meanwhile, mix the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a small bowl. When the milk mixture comes to a boil, remove the vanilla pod, then pour half the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture and stir to combine. Tip this into the remaining milk in the pan, cook, whisking, on a low heat until it comes to a boil, then take off the heat. Whisk in the diced butter, until combined (alternatively, blend it to make an even more homogeneous custard), set aside to cool, then chill.
When the custard is cold, give it a stir with a whisk, just to soften it a little. In a bowl, whip the cold whipping cream to the texture of shaving cream, then fold into the custard and transfer to a second piping bag.
Now make the chocolate sauce. In a saucepan, make a syrup with the water and sugar and, once the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is boiling, whisk in the cocoa powder and salt (or blitz them in a blender) and leave to one side to cool (if you like, filter the sauce through a sieve).
Finally, make the pistachio spread. Gently melt the white chocolate in a bain-marie or microwave (be careful not to burn it), stir in the oil and pistachio paste, and leave to cool.
To assemble the pudding, carefully pierce the flat side of each choux bun with a small knife. One by one, pipe in the creamy custard – the filling should peek out slightly, which will be helpful later when you’re stacking the buns.
Arrange the filled choux buns on a platter in the shape of a lovely tall tower, mountain or stack, and take to the table. At the last moment, pour the cold chocolate sauce all over the top, drizzle on the pistachio spread and serve.
Assemble this the day before you want to serve it.
Prep 10 minAssemble 20 minChill OvernightServes 4
For the tiramisu cream 170g whipping cream250g mascarpone50g caster sugar3 large egg yolks (63g)For the coffee270g just-brewed coffee, as strong as you like it80g water40g marsalaFor the base3 good slices panettoneCocoa powder, or chocolate chips, to finish
In a bowl (a chilled one, ideally, because it will help increase the volume of the cream), use an electric mixer to combine all the ingredients for the tiramisu cream, until the mixture looks like shaving cream; it should be shiny and come away slightly from the sides of the bowl. Do not over-mix, or it will taste like butter.
Dilute the warm coffee with water, stir in the marsala and set aside to cool. If the panettone is old and very dry, build the tiramisu while the coffee is still warm; if it’s fresh, build it with cold coffee mix.Lay a slice of panettone in the base of a deep serving dish (a rectangular gratin dish or similar would be ideal) and brush all over with the diluted coffee, to soak. Top with a layer of tiramisu cream, then repeat the operation a second time; if your dish is deep enough, add a third layer each of panettone and cream. Refrigerate overnight.The next day, dust all over with cocoa powder or scatter over the chocolate chips, and serve.