Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Uachtair Nollaig – the Ultimate Christmas Cream Cake!

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Uachtair Nollaig - it's a piece of cake!

The first Domestic Goddess, Hannah Glasse, is often credited with the famous recipe that begins ... First, catch your hare. That’s how I feel about Christmas cakes... First, bake in September, then bathe in whiskey for 3 months. Doh! Missed that boat again!

Never mind. Although my mother makes an amazing traditional fruit cake with marzipan and royal icing, it's good to have an alternative for those who prefer something a little lighter. My recipe uses simple ingredients to create a magical no-bake Christmas cake: cream, chocolate, booze and biscuits. I’ve called it Uachtair Nollaig – that’s Irish for Christmas Cream.

It’s delightfully retro – based on the ice box cake of 50s America – and it combines 3 gorgeous flavours that really spell Christmas for me, chocolate, orange and ginger. It is simple enough to get the kids involved. Oh, and I’m warning you now, you will want to lick the spoon, and the bowl, and the whisk.

Warning! Lickability rating: extremely high!

For 10-12 servings you will need...
150g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped or grated
500mls Avonmore Double Cream, well chilled
250g cream cheese
60g icing sugar, sifted
50mls Cointreau / Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
150g Ginger Snaps, crushed
100g Bourbon Creams (or other chocolate cookie) crushed

You’ll need an 18cm (7”) loose-bottomed or spring-form cake tin, about 7cm (3”) deep. You’ll also need a pinch of imagination to decorate. I’ve used chocolate fingers and chocolate flakes.

Decorate with imagination, or chocolate fingers!

1                  Place the chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Place 200mls of the double cream in a saucepan and heat until just bubbling at the edges. Pour onto the dark chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted and combined with the cream. Leave to cool.
2                  When the chocolate and cream mixture has cooled, add the cream cheese, icing sugar, liqueur and orange zest and whisk until thick and smooth.  (An electric whisk  or stand mixer is best for this).Then add the remaining 300mls of double cream and continue whisking until the cream forms stiff peaks when you lift the whisk out. Take care at this stage not to over-whip the mixture or you’ll end up with chocolate butter!
3                  Sprinkle about 1/3 of the ginger snap crumbs over the base of the tin. Cover with a layer of cream. Next add half the chocolate cookie crumbs in a layer, followed by another layer of cream. Continue with another 1/3 of ginger snap crumbs, another layer of cream, the remaining chocolate cookie crumbs, another layer of cream, the remaining ginger snap crumbs and finish with a layer of cream. Smooth the top. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight. It will set solid enough to cut into slices.
4                  Carefully run a knife around the edge to loosen it from the tin. Remove and decorate as desired. For the cake shown, I pressed chocolate fingers to the side and sprinkled with chocolate flakes.
Easy to make, even easier to eat...

Ah, sometimes the simple things in life are the best! Pin It