Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas - 25 days early

I am the biggest advocate for all things Christmas. I love it when christmas decorations start coming out in supermarkets in early November, I love it when mum starts to adorn the house with candy canes and I love love love our advent calender with the funny felt Santa hanging from a string. But above all, I LOVE the huge Christmas breakfast and lunch full of maple syrup roasted leg of ham, roasted vegies, salad and seafood. Dessert is always the best - home made tiramisu, soft Italian sponge fingers laced with sweet kahlua, bitter dark chocolate, sweet whipped cream and zinging espresso. Most families have christmas pudding for their dessert (most likely a frozen version in Australia) but our tradition has always been a huge bowl of this light but somehow rich dessert.

Every year my family aims to put up our christmas tree together, however I've noticed that as each year goes by and as we all get older and fanstasies of Santa slip away, each sibling sort of drops of the Christmas bandwagon.... Not me! And because I'm going to be partying on a tiny Thai island with my girlfriends this Christmas, mum promised me we could put the Christmas tree up early before I leave on the 1st of December. I pretended not to feel privileged but this was a big deal for my mum who thinks people are strange and possibly not to be trusted if they put up any sort of sparkly decoration before the warm onslaught of December arrives.

So on Sunday night we had a big family dinner to wish Tom and I goodluck on our trip, 10 people and 5 animals. It was quite the menagerie. After consuming huge amounts of roast chicken, mediterranean vegetables, warm buttery cous cous and tangy greek yoghurt out came my own twist on our tiramisu tradition - "mango-misu". Layers of vanilla spiced whipped cream and marscapone, sponge fingers dipped in Cointreau and freshly squeezed orange juice and slivers of fresh succulent mango all capped off with a fresh raspberry and rosewater sauce (I really want to refrain from using the word coolee). It was a nice Summery change to celebrate my kiss goodbye to Sydney for 6 weeks.


Recipe adapted from Valli Little in Delicious. magazine, Dec 2009/Jan 2010 issue

500g mascarpone cheese
600ml thickened cream
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (or thereabouts..) of Cointreau (or you could use Grand Marnier)
2 oranges, juiced
300g sponge finger biscuits (I used the long italian ones that look like yummy sugared fingers)
3 ripe mangoes, thickly sliced whicheverwhichway

The original recipe assembles the layers in a springform dish to be tipped out before serving, which looked amazing but with my lack of professional food styling I went the safe option and served from a huge white bowl.
It's also important to get all your elements ready before preparing the mangomisu, to save stress and mess.

Beat mascarpone, cream, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until thick and creamy.
Pour the Cointreau and orange juice in a wide, deep dish and have the sliced mango ready.
To begin the layering, lightly soak enough individual sponge fingers in the orange/Cointreau mixture to fit in the bottom of the bowl (don't immerse completely in the liquid otherwise the biscuits will end up like mush.)
Dollop a huge spoonful of the cream ontop of the snuggly fit layer of biscuits, then place over a random scattering of mango slices.
Repeat until the last layer is mango.
Refridgerate for a few hours just to develop the flavours and make the pudding more stable.

For the raspberry sauce
300g fresh (or thawed frozen) raspberries
2 tablespoons icing sugar
2 tablespoons rosewater

Crush the raspberries in a bowl with the icing sugar and rosewater. You can use a blender if you like but I prefer a chunkier style sauce.

To serve, whack the bowl in the middle of the table with a sizeable serving spoon and before eating remember to pour over some of the delicious bright red sauce.

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