As someone who loves the holidays, freelance recipe writer and cooking show host Yvette van Boven is never short of ideas on how to dish up something extra special to celebrate the festive season…
Brioche & red fruit swirls with ricotta glaze
Perfect for Christmas Morning
Makes 10 substantial rolls
FOR THE BRIOCHE SWIRLS
60 ml lukewarm milk
60 g granulated sugar
2¼ teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
350 g all-purpose flour, plus plenty for dusting
¼ teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
125 g butter, at room temperature, cubed
100 g light brown sugar
300 g frozen red fruit, preferably a mix
FOR THE RICOTTA GLAZE
3 to 4 tablespoons ricotta
200 g sifted confectioners’ sugar
In a bowl, beat the milk together with the granulated sugar and yeast and let stand for 7 minutes, until the mixture starts foaming. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Form an indentation in the middle. Pour in the yeast mixture and the beaten eggs, then gently combine into a smooth dough. Remove from the bowl and knead for 5 minutes on a floured countertop until supple and soft. Add two cubes of butter and continue kneading until they are incorporated into the dough. Repeat until all the butter has been used and the dough has become shiny and elastic, dusting the countertop with flour as you work and using a bench knife or spatula to scrape up the dough as needed—it may take a while to incorporate all that butter, but be persistent. Place the ball in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 90 minutes.
Again, briefly knead the dough. Roll out on a lightly floured countertop into a 16 by 24-inch (40 by 60-cm) rectangle. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and frozen fruit. Now, roll up from a short side into a short, thick log. Wrap in plastic wrap. Place the roll in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up, which will make slicing it easier later on.
Remove the plastic wrap. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into ten even slices. Place them on parchment paper–lined baking sheets, a little apart (they are still rising!). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to continue rising for 30 minutes in a warm, draft-free spot. If you’d like to make these the evening before, let them rise overnight in the fridge on the baking sheets.
Allow brioches that were stored in the fridge 30 to 45 minutes to reach room temperature before you proceed.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC. Uncover the brioches and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes. For the glaze, whisk the ricotta in a bowl and add confectioners’ sugar until you get a thick glaze with the consistency of whole milk yogurt. Drizzle over the buns. Let stand briefly to set the glaze, then serve warm or at room temperature.
Ginger hot chocolate with roasted marshmallows
Wonderful after a winter walk
Makes 3 to 4 mugs
2 tablespoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
100g good-quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao), in chunks
2 to 3 handfuls of marshmallows
A pinch of ground ginger
Heat the milk with the ginger, but don’t let it boil. Let simmer over a very low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate but don’t stir yet. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Using a small whisk, stir the chocolate with the milk until thoroughly combined, then pour the mixture through a sieve to remove the solids.
Using a metal skewer, roast the marshmallows over a gas burner, with a brûlée torch (that’s what I do), over a candle, or in the fireplace. Fill three or four mugs three-quarters full with the hot chocolate and divide the marshmallows among them. Sprinkle with ground ginger and serve immediately.
Krispy Christmas Wreaths
Make with the kids
Makes about 10 cookies
120 g butter
60ml syrup, preferably golden syrup
25g cocoa powder
30g confectioners’ sugar
35g dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
3 to 4 handfuls of cornflakes or crispy rice cereal
15 to 20 Bigarreaux cherries, halved
Melt the butter and syrup in a saucepan, stir in the cocoa powder, and remove from the heat. Fold in the confectioners’ sugar, cranberries, and cornflakes. Carefully combine until everything is coated with the butter mixture, but not wet. If necessary, add more cornflakes. Line a baking sheet that’s small enough to fit in your fridge with parchment paper. Use two spoons to form little heaps of the cornflakes mixture on the baking sheet. Using the back of a spoon, form holes in the middle of each, creating little wreaths. Decorate with the halved cherries. Put the cookies in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours to firm up completely before you dig in.
Recipes included from Home Made Christmas by Yvette van Boven (Abrams, £26.99) Photography by Oof Verschuren