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18th of January 2018


Recipes: festive favourites tiramisu and custard pie

A tray of creamy tiramisu, with the Italian village of Vittorito as the backdrop. Denise Irvine

A tray of creamy tiramisu, with the Italian village of Vittorito as the backdrop.

When it's raining pudding, hold up your bowl. – Sandra Dallas, American author.

Yep, it's raining pudding at present, and this is a very good thing. The festive season brings out the best of them and I've already had my share of trifle, rich Christmas puds and berry bowls at various gatherings.

There was a flurry of foodie emails a few weeks ago when a group of us sorted out the menu for a celebratory dinner. The dessert winner on that night was a creamy old-school trifle with lashings of custard and sherry served (of course) in a crystal bowl.

On another occasion, a simple dish of strawberries and blueberries splashed with Cassis and partnered with a raspberry Duck Island ice cream was just perfect.

READ MORE:* Denise Irvine's best places to eat in the Waikato* Recipe: Portuguese custard tarts* Recipe: A decadent tiramisu cake

My niece Anna conncoted a gorgeous trifle recently for our family's pre-Christmas get-together: she folded a jar of lemon curd into whipped cream and subsituted this for custard. She drizzled the sponge with Limoncello, spread apricot jam over it, and layered it with the creamy mixture, canned guavas and fresh strawberries. The lemon curd and Limoncello was a match made in pudding heaven.

My go-to festive favourites are the Italian specialty tiramisu, and a custard pie that I tart up (no pun intended) at Christmas with fruit mince instead of dried fruit (as per the orginal recipe). They're both good puddings at any time of the year but they come into their own at Christmas with a few strawberries on the side.

The recipes are from two fine cooks who I remember happily when I make their dishes. The tiramisu is by American-based Italian Ezio Gentile, a chef I met a few years ago in the village of Vittorito in Abruzzo, and the fruity custard pie was a specialty of the late Pauline Mayhill, a Hamilton friend and an intuitive cook.

With the Big Day only two sleeps away, you've probably already organised the menu. But tuck these recipes away for an "emergency" pudding moment.They are easy to make and very transportable.

I hope there are many pleasures – culinary and companionable – at your Christmas table on Monday. Have a happy day, everyone.

Ad Feedback Tiramisu

16 ladyfinger biscuits6 eggs (separate the yolks from the whites)2 cups espresso coffee (you can sweeten it)10 tbsp sugar500g mascarponeCocoa powder

Combine the yolks with half the sugar and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add mascarpone and mix together. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites (gently, gently) into the mascarpone mixture.

Soak the ladyfingers, one at a time, in espresso coffee and place in a layer in a decent-sized dish (or individual glasses, see below). Spread half the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers and sprinkle with a generous dusting of cocoa.

Repeat with another layer of ladyfingers, mascarpone and cocoa. Place the second layer of ladyfingers in the opposite direction of the first layer.

Chill the dish in the fridge for two to three hours, to allow the flavours to meld together.

This can be made in individual glasses with two ladyfingers, cut in half and layered. Makes eight glasses. A little drizzle of Amaretto or Limoncello on the ladyfingers gives this an extra bit of festive kick.

Pauline's exquisite custard pie

500g sweet-short pastry base (homemade or ready rolled)

Filling113g butter1 cup sugar2 eggs1 tsp vinegar1 tsp cinnamon½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg½ cup raisins½ cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)(At Christmas, subsitute raisins for half-cup of fruit mince)

Preheat oven to 180C. Cream butter and sugar together and add eggs and beat till creamy. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Grease a 20cm flan dish, line with pastry and pour in the mixture.

Cook for about 45-50 minutes until the centre is just set.

 - Your Weekend

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