Traditional desserts with a twist

Dessert is always special, but at Christmas-time it is elevated to another level. Every family has its favourites for the big day so here we have pulled together some traditional festive desserts but with a flavour twist from some of New Zealandʼs popular cooks.


Christmas meringue roulade
with rosé cherries and chantilly cream

Dunedin-based doctor and baker Alby Hailes describes this dessert as an exciting take on a classic. The meringue is baked thin and rectangular then rolled up to form a roulade. Itʼs flavoured with a Christmas spice mix and filled with cream and rosé-poached cherries. Hark thou hear the angels sing.


Hands-on time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes


Meringue roulade

170g egg whites (about 5)

200g caster sugar

65g soft brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground star anise

½ tsp ground allspice

1 tsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp cornflour

Rosé cherries

300g fresh or frozen pitted cherries, halved

100g caster sugar

125ml rosé wine

Freshly squeezed juice of ½ a lemon

Chantilly cream

250ml cream

2 Tbsp icing sugar, sifted

1½ tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 190°C fan-forced (or 210°C conventional). Grease a Swiss roll tin or large rectangular baking tin (about 33cm x 23cm) and line with baking paper.

For the meringue roulade, place the egg whites in a clean large bowl. Using an electric hand or stand mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until they form soft peaks.

While beating continuously, gradually add the caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time, followed by the brown sugar. Once all the sugar has been added, continue beating for a further 5 minutes to form a beautifully stiff, thick and glossy meringue.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the ground spices, then add to the meringue and beat on medium speed until evenly mixed through.

In a small cup, whisk together the vinegar and cornflour and add to the meringue, again beating on medium speed until well combined.

Spoon the meringue into the prepared tin and gently spread out with the back of a spoon to form an even layer, being careful not to deflate the meringue.

Place into the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 170°C fan-forced (or 190°C conventional).

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature again to 140°C fan-forced (or 160°C conventional) and bake for a further 15 minutes.

The meringue will have puffed up and have a crusty surface. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes to allow the meringue to deflate a little.

Place a piece of baking paper just larger than the size of the meringue on your work surface, long side facing towards you.

Working quickly and carefully, invert the meringue onto the baking paper and carefully peel the baking paper from the meringue. Leave to cool completely at room temperature.

For the rosé cherries, place the cherries and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Stir through and warm for a few minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Pour in the rosé wine and lemon juice and increase the heat to medium-high.

Bring to the boil and cook vigorously for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and squashing the cherries a little, until the cherries are softened and the liquid has reduced to a syrupy, almost runny jam-like consistency (remembering the syrup will thicken as it cools). Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

For the Chantilly cream, using an electric hand mixer, beat together the cream, icing sugar and vanilla until thickened and soft peaks form (be careful not to over mix).

To roll the roulade, spread three-quarters of the Chantilly cream over the surface of the cooled meringue, leaving a 2cm border on the long edge furthest away from you without cream (as the cream will spill onto this as you roll the meringue).  Dot three-quarters of the rosé cherries over the top of the cream.

With the long edge facing you, roll up the meringue tightly, using the baking paper to help you and gently removing this as you go, to form a log. Carefully transfer the roulade, seam side down, to a serving platter or board.

Spoon the remaining cream down the length of the roulade, spreading along the top with the back of a spoon, and top with the remaining cherries. Slice and serve. This is best eaten on the day, but any leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to two days.


Recipes extracted from Good Vibes by Alby Hailes (HarperCollins NZ, HB, RRP $55).



Brownie trifle

SERVES 10–12

Ready in: 1 hour + chilling time (3hrs)

200g butter, melted

1¾ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

½ cup cocoa powder

1½ cups self-raising flour

300g frozen raspberries

3 Tbsp caster sugar

250g fresh strawberries, sliced

2 cups cream, whipped

600g ready-made custard

125g fresh raspberries, to serve

2 x 30g Flake bars, to serve

1 Tbsp icing sugar, to serve


To make the brownie, preheat the oven to 170°C fan bake. Line a 27cm x 17cm slice tin with baking paper.

Whisk together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and cocoa, whisking well after each addition. Sift in the flour and fold gently to combine.

Transfer to the prepared tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through but soft on the outside. Allow to cool, then cut into 2.5cm squares, separate into three equal piles and set aside.

To make the raspberry sauce, place the frozen raspberries and caster sugar in a microwave-proof bowl or jug and microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir, microwave for another minute, then stir again. Set aside to cool.

To assemble the trifle, arrange half the strawberries in the base of a trifle dish or large serving bowl. Top with a third of the cooled raspberry sauce, then a third of the brownie pieces. Carefully spoon in half the whipped cream.

Add a layer of custard and smooth it to the edges with a spoon. Add another third of the raspberry sauce, a second layer of brownie pieces and then the remaining strawberries.

Add the remaining custard and smooth to the edges, then top with the remaining brownie pieces and raspberry sauce. Finish with the remaining whipped cream and gently smooth the top.

Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

Just before serving, decorate the top with the fresh raspberries, crumbled Flake and a sprinkle of icing sugar.

Tips and tricks

This trifle is even better if you make it a day in advance and store it in the fridge overnight.


Images and text extracted from Summer Favourites by Vanya Insull, published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $39.99.


Roasted hazelnut and espresso tiramisu cream pavlova

Two layers of crisp and chewy hazelnut meringue, whipped espresso cream, fudgy chocolate sauce and praline shards. Yum!




6 large egg whites

1½ cups caster sugar

1 Tbsp cornflour

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup roughly chopped roasted hazelnuts

Tiramisu cream

1 Tbsp instant espresso coffee granules

2 Tbsp boiling water

250g mascarpone

½ cup cream

4 Tbsp demerara sugar

1/3 cup finely grated dark chocolate

To assemble

300ml cream, softly whipped

Fudgy chocolate sauce (see below)

Hazelnut praline (see below)


Pavlova: Trace a 20cm-diameter circle on two sheets of baking paper. Turn the paper over and place each one on a flat baking tray.

Preheat the oven to 120°C regular bake.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Whisk until thick and glossy and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should be smooth when rubbed between your fingertips. Any undissolved sugar will cause the meringue to weep.

Sift over the cornflour and add the lemon juice, vanilla and hazelnuts. Using a large metal spoon, fold into the meringue.

Spoon half the meringue into the centre of each circle on your baking paper, then, using the back of a large spoon, carefully spread it to the edge of the circles, building up the sides and swirling the top, keeping the meringue as high as possible.

Bake for 1 hour, alternating the trays after 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and, with the door closed, leave the meringues inside to cool completely.

Tiramisu cream: Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water, then cool. Place all the remaining ingredients in a bowl, add the cooled coffee and very gently whisk until smooth. Donʼt over mix or it will split and curdle. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

To assemble: Gently whisk the Tiramisu cream and softly whipped cream together to firm-ish peaks. Place one meringue on a serving plate and spread over half the cream. Top with the second meringue and dollop on the remaining cream. Drizzle with some fudgy chocolate sauce and scatter with pieces of hazelnut praline.

Fudgy chocolate sauce (gf)


1 cup cream

150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (72% cocoa)

2 Tbsp golden syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract


Put the cream in a small saucepan and heat until just below boiling.

Take off the heat and add the chocolate.

Leave for 1 minute, then stir until smooth.

Stir in the golden syrup and vanilla and set aside to cool.

Hazelnut praline (gf)


1 cup whole roasted hazelnuts

1 cup caster sugar

¼ cup water


Line a greased baking tray with baking paper and place the nuts close together on the tray.

Put the sugar and water in a clean saucepan over a medium heat.

Whisk to combine, then stop stirring and wait for the sugar to become golden in colour, swirling the pan for even colouring.

Immediately drizzle it all over the nuts, then leave to harden.

Break into pieces to serve.


Recipes extracted from Dish Sweet by Sarah Tuck and Clare Aldous, SCG Media, RRP $45