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Go-to holiday desserts with a yummy twist

We give Christmas classics a makeover with these fabulous desserts, all layered with decadence and class. 

Brownie and salted caramel trifle 

Serves 8-10 

The only trifle you’ll ever need! We’ve skipped out on the fruit and jelly, and delivered on decadence.  


2 boxes (550g each) chocolate brownie premix   

For the brandy snap discs

1/3 cup (50g) butter 
½ cup (100g) light brown sugar 
3 Tbsp (45ml) golden syrup 
½ cup (75g) cake flour
Pinch ground ginger 
1 tsp (5ml) brandy (optional)   

For the caramel

1 cup (200g) sugar 
¼ cup (60ml) water 
6 Tbsp (90g) butter 
½ cup (125ml) cream 
Sea salt flakes, to taste 

For the mousse

2 cups (500ml) full-fat cream cheese (medium fat works well too) 
2 cups (500ml) cream, whipped 
2 handfuls fresh berries for serving 


  1. Bake the brownies according to packet instructions. Cool completely and cut into squares. 2. For the brandy snaps, combine butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pot. 
  2. Heat for 5-6 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Cool for 5 minutes. 
  3. Stir in flour, ginger and brandy, if using, and mix until smooth. 
  4. Preheat oven to 180°C. 
  5. Thinly spread mixture out onto a lined 2-3mm baking tray and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately cut out discs using a cooking cutter while warm. Cool discs completely. 
  6. For the caramel, combine sugar and water then heat gently until sugar dissolves. 
  7. Boil, without stirring, until large bubbles appear and the colour changes to amber – this can take 10-15 minutes, but keep a close eye. 
  8. Add butter and whisk vigorously. (Work carefully, as hot mixture will bubble up.)  
  9. Remove from heat, add cream and whisk until smooth. Stir through salt and cool. 
  10. For the mousse, whisk cream cheese and 1 cup cooled caramel until smooth. Fold in whipped cream and set aside. 
  11. Layer trifle just before serving by placing alternating layers of brownies, mousse, fresh berries and brandy snaps in a large glass serving bowl. 
  12. Drizzle with remaining caramel sauce and serve.


Custard ice cream with peaches and cream  

Serves 8  

This fruity sundae is inspired by the nostalgia of canned peaches and custard. 


½ cup cream 
½ cup castor sugar 
2 tsp vanilla essence 
1L box custard, chilled 

To assemble

1 cup cream 
¼ cup castor sugar 
1 tsp vanilla essence 
1 packet ginger biscuits, crushed 
6 plums, cut into wedges 
6 nectarines, cut into wedges  


  1. Whisk cream, sugar and vanilla into stiff peaks. Whisk a third of this mixture through cold custard, then gently fold through remaining mixture. 
  2. Spoon ice cream mixture into a freezer-safe bowl and freeze for 2-3 hours. Whisk to break up any lumps and freeze again for 4 hours or overnight. 
  3. To assemble, whisk cream, sugar and vanilla to medium-stiff peaks. Spoon biscuit crumbs into the base of each serving glass. 
  4. Top with ice cream, fruit, whipped cream and remaining biscuit crumbs. 
  5. Repeat process with remaining ingredients to create another layer. 
  6. Serve immediately.

Also read: 5 Christmas dishes from around the globe

Berry and chocolate mousse dessert  

Serves 6-8  

Turn the basics into a layered showstopper dessert that will wow your guests.  


1 packet (80g) red berry jelly 
200g fresh berries, plus extra for serving 
2 large slabs (150g each) milk chocolate
1 ¾ cup (400ml) cream 
¼ cup castor sugar 
1 tsp vanilla essence 
½ sachet (5g) gelatine powder, soaked in 2 Tbsp cold water 
2 Tbsp strong coffee 
Fresh mint, for serving  


  1. Prepare jelly according to package instructions. 
  2. Pour into a 20cmx16cm Bundt tin or jelly mould. Set in fridge for 30-40 minutes until slightly set. 
  3. Add berries to jelly. Set for 1-2 hours until firm. 
  4. Melt chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. 
  5. Whisk together cream and sugar into stiff peaks, then add vanilla. 
  6. Heat the gelatine in the microwave at 30 second intervals until completely melted. 
  7. Combine the gelatine, coffee and melted chocolate until smooth. 
  8. Fold cream into chocolate mixture until well combined. 
  9. Pour mousse over jelly and set for 1-2 hours. 
  10. Run a hot cloth over the outside of the Bundt tin or mould. You can also quickly dip the tin into lukewarm water to loosen the contents from the tin. 
  11. Unmould onto a cake stand or serving platter. 
  12. Serve the dessert garnished with extra berries and mint leaves.


Turkish delight cake  

Serves 6-8 

Fragrant and fabulous, this light and airy cake uses both almond and cake flour for a unique soft crumb.  


For the cake (you’ll need to make two separate batches of the batter for a tiered cake)  

4/5 cup (200g) butter 
¾ cup (150g) castor sugar 
4 large eggs 
Zest of 1 lemon cup 
(80ml) lemon juice 
1 Tbsp (15ml) rose water 
½ cup (100g) cake flour, sifted 
2¼ cups (215g) almond flour 
5 cardamom pods, seeds removed and finely ground 
1 tsp (5ml) baking powder 
Pinch fine salt  

For the syrup

½ cup (125ml) honey (or equal parts honey and sugar) 
125ml lemon juice 
½ cup (125ml) water 
1 Tbsp (15ml) rose water   

For decorating

1 cup (250g) butter, softened 
3½ cups (455g) icing sugar, sifted
½ packet (50g) Turkish delight squares, cut smaller 
Dried rose petals for decorating (fresh edible flowers work well too) 


  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. 
  2. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric beater for 7 minutes or until light and fluffy. With the motor running, add eggs, one by one, fully incorporating each one before the next. 
  3. Pour in lemon zest, juice and rose water and mix until well combined. 
  4. Combine the flours, cardamom, baking powder and salt in a bowl. 
  5. Stir in wet mixture until well combined. 
  6. Pour into a 20cm or 18cm loose-bottom cake tin (or make two batches of cake batter and make both sizes, like we did in this picture.) 
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. 
  8. Remove from oven and cool in tin for 5-10 minutes. 
  9. Combine syrup ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer. 
  10. Pour syrup over cake and leave to cool completely. 
  11. Whisk butter until pale and soft, then add icing sugar 1 cup at a time until fully incorporated. 
  12. Lightly ice cake(s) on the outside. 
  13. Decorate with Turkish delight squares and rose petals as desired.

Words by: Chad January 
Photographs: Fresh Living Magazine 

Also read: Individual lemon and berry trifles

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