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Preparing Desserts Ahead for Christmas

Asked by Georgina Lobo. Answered on 27th November 2010

Full question

Hi. I have a house full of people coming for Christmas and wanted some suggestions for preparing meals in advance, that I can then freeze. I will do the obligatory Lasagna etc, but am a bit stumped about which puddings I can make. I was thinking some kind of sticky toffee pudding or a tarte tatin, but am not sure how these will freeze. I also have to (rather annoyingly) factor in my brother's egg allergy. Can you help?

Our answer

For main courses most types of stews will freeze very well, and most of these types of dishes actually taste better if they are made in advance and reheated. Carbonnade a La Flamande from Kitchen is a great example, and don't forget some more Asian-ispired dishes such as Patara Lamb Shanks or a Thai massamann curry. Chilli con carne is another good choice which may wake up taste buds during the feasting at Christmas and freezes fantastically.

On the dessert front most cake-type desserts, such as sticky toffee pudding freeze well or try the Marmalade pudding cake from Kitchen. Wrap the cakes in their dishes in a double layer of clingfilm (plastic wrap) followed by a tight layer of foil and they should keep in the freezer for 3 months. Defrost at cool room temperature overnight or in the fridge, and reheat, covered in foil, in an oven preheated to 150C/350F/Gas mk 2 until warm in the centre. Yule logs (swiss rolls) also freeze quite well. Assemble the yule log on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment (parchment paper) and freeze, uncovered, until firm, then wrap the log as for the cakes above but unwrap and put on a serving plate then leave to defrost in a cool place.

The no-egg option is a tiny bit more tricky but one of the best options is a no-curn ice cream as many of them do not contain egg. Try the very seasonal Pomegranate Ice Cream from Nigella Express or for a more alcoholic option the Margarita Ice Cream from the same book or the Pina Colada Ice Cream from Kitchen. Jellies (gelatins) are also a good egg-free option and alcoholic ones are a world away form the childrens' party versions. Although they can't be frozen they can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the fridge. Try the Prosecco and Pomegranate jelly from Christmas or if you can find some early forced rhubarb in December then try the Rhubarb and Muscat Jelly from Nigella Bites.

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