Sunday, October 04, 2009

Holiday Desserts 2009 - Classes

As I won't be teaching in December, the four November sessions of Holiday Desserts 2009, a demo class, are my final ones for this year at Shermay's Cooking School. The dates are 7 November 2009 (Saturday), 8 November 2009 (Sunday), 21 November 2009 (Saturday) and 22 November 2009 (Sunday) - the November schedule has all the necessary details. For all inquiries, please call the school at +65 6479 8442 or email

Between the Holiday Cookie Class and this, I sincerely hope there're ideas aplenty to inspire a happy bout of holiday entertaining and/or a hamperful of homebaked gifts and treats!

On the menu:

Panforte di Siena
If unstinting in one's use of only the very choicest of ingredients, this traditional Italian Christmas confection can be as sublime to savour as it is to behold, a bejewelled medieval mosaic of a sweetmeat gleaming with the vivid emerald of pistachios, the mystical amethyst depths of sun-ripened mission figs, the perspicuous citrine of candied orange zest...

A little taste of this, alongside a glass of good sticky - I am partial to vin santo here - and perhaps a chunk of well-aged parmesan, is my idea of the perfect note on which to conclude a special meal of the festive variety, a feast so to speak. I absolutely adore panforte, and while many recipes and variations abound, this particular page from my files is one that I've tinkered with and tweaked and tricked out over quite a few Christmases past, adjusting the type and ratio of dried fruit and nuts used, as well as the style and level of spicing, until a balance was struck which I found pleasing.

I could honestly go on all day about this, it's one of my favourite things, so before I get carried away, suffice to say the recipe is chock-full of dried fruit (figs, dates and raisins), nuts (pistachios, hazelnuts and almonds) and candied citrus peel, and fragrant with honey, cocoa (using Valrhona cocoa) and spices.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with A Gingered Pecan Crust
A lush, creamy and cinnamon-scented pumpkin cheesecake sits atop a crisp ginger biscuit crust flavoured with pecans and crystallized ginger. This luxurious dessert appeals equally to lovers of pumpkin pie or cheesecake. I've provided 2 sets of instructions; for baking the recipe as a whole large cheesecake, and for baking individual cheesecake cups.

Applesauce Cake with Tea-Plumped Golden Raisins and Walnuts
Moist, tender, subtly spiced and festive, this is a wonderful, much lighter alternative to fruitcake, in case you're baking for folks who either aren't fond of fruitcake period or have simply had one too many a fruitcake slice over the course of the season.

The batter can also be baked as Applesauce Cupcakes instead of loaves; I'll provide the additional how-to instructions in the recipe pack.

The Ultimate Dark Chocolate Tart
And last but not least - for those of us all too gleefull to live on chocolate alone if only conventional nutritional wisdom didn't demand the inclusion of other food groups - no holiday dessert lineup could possibly be considered complete without a show stealing dark horse! A decadent chocolate tart is the answer, with a filling based on Valrhona Manjari 64% dark chocolate in a crunchy, buttery shortbread tart shell. It's a baked filling with an interior as smooth as silk - all tremulous and aquiver when served warm, rich and dense and voluptuous if served cold.

I'll put up more details on the Bonus Section with Extra Recipes, Ideas & Serving Suggestions soon in a separate post. This includes:

Pumpkin Seed Toffee Buttery caramel candy shards studded with pumpkin seeds – the ideal finishing touch for Pumpkin Cheesecake or simply to enjoy alone as candy

Spiced Rum & Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Crème Anglaise Luxurious custard perfumed with dark rum, Christmas spices, and vanilla bean – a lovely accompaniment for Pumpkin Cheesecake or Applesauce Cake

Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate Tart Rich, buttery caramel spiked with artisanal sea salt layered with dark chocolate ganache (using Valrhona Manjari 64% Dark Chocolate)

Raspberry &White Chocolate Tart White chocolate ganache (using Valrhona Ivoire 35% White Chocolate) layered with raspberry preserves and fresh raspberries

Malted Milk Chocolate Tart Malted milk chocolate ganache (using Valrhona Jivara Lactée 40% Milk Chocolate) in a shortbread tart shell


Anonymous ecath said...

Wow! They look great!

10:11 pm, October 04, 2009  
Blogger Francis Bell said...

WOW-Great site-I love the pictures-thanks for brightening my day!!!Francis

12:04 am, October 06, 2009  
Anonymous keiko said...

Joycelyn, everything looks so beautiful as always, but I can't resist the sound of the pumpkin cheesecake! The chocolate tart looks divine too - it must be the almost winter like weather here that makes me crave them even more... PS. if you're coming to Europe in Dec you must let me know! take care. kxxx

7:16 pm, October 06, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am amazed! Gorgeous eats and I can't stop thinking of that pumpkin cheese cake :) yummy!

3:51 pm, October 08, 2009  
Blogger Chiara Ulivi said...

what a wonderful series of dishes!!! your pics are great and I can't imagine the taste of all these desserts!! many many compliments :)

1:48 am, October 10, 2009  
Blogger Vicki said...

Evening Jocelyn,
what wonderful images to stubble upon on an autumn evening. Sadly I am unable to make your cooking classes as I'm not in your part of the world. I would so love to try some of your recipes if you would be willing to part with a few?
These have got my taste buds going: Panforte di Siena, Fig Pillows, Raspberry & Cranberry crumble bar cookies and Applesauce cupcakes/cake!
look forward to seeing what's next!
warm regards, Vicki :)

1:52 am, October 12, 2009  
Anonymous eli said...

Dear J, you are a star! What a super collection of sweets!

8:11 am, October 12, 2009  
Blogger Valentina said...

J, you are always so inspirational. I love this post. In particular the pumpkin cheesecake.

5:03 am, October 14, 2009  
Blogger Anthony said...

Hello J

I'm heading over to Singapore next week and well, would you mind terribly dropping me an email?

spiceblog at gmail



11:19 pm, October 15, 2009  
Blogger Vicki said...

Evening J,

Panforte di Siena - wow.....,I love the look of this bejewelled delight. I would love the recipe!! It looks so sumptuous too!!

warmest regards,


3:14 am, November 29, 2009  
Blogger S said...

i am in love with desserts which have pumpkin in them. those bite-size cheesecakes are absolutely gorgeous. i love your photography, the lighting is absolutely perfect. best wishes, shayma

1:22 am, December 10, 2009  

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