Before too much time marches on, I want to write about our tasty dessert party. None of our guests had heard of a dessert party before, but everyone agreed it was a great idea. I don’t know, maybe it’s an American thing.
Besides Rum Balls, I made an icebox cake. Steve had gone work at a conference centre in Surrey back in November and on one of the days the lobby had been turned into a Christmas Fair for the American Women of Surrey. When he came home, he laid a bag at my feet filled with American foods, some that he’d heard me mention (Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in particular).
Amongst the goodies was a box of Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers.
I’d never had them and apparently they’re not easy to get ahold of. I decided to make a refrigerator cake (a confection made from such prepared ingredients as cookies or whipped cream that requires no additional baking but is chilled in a refrigerator before serving) using the back-of-the-box recipe for our dessert party.
The Famous Chocolate Icebox Cake
- One 9-oz. package of Famous Chocolate Wafers
- 2 cups/280 ml double or whipping cream, whipped
- 1 teaspoon Bourbon vanilla extract
- Dark chocolate bar
- Fresh raspberries
Whip the cream and vanilla until fairly stiff. Spread a spoonful of whipped cream on a wafer and stack them together, then stand them on edge on a large serving tray. (I covered a cookie sheet with aluminum foil).
Then frost with the remaining whipped cream mixture. Leave in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight. The wafers will absorb moisture from the whipped cream and become delightfully cakelike.
Garnish with chocolate curls made with a potato peeler and serve with raspberries. Cut at a 45° angle to show off the wafers. (I forgot to take any photos once the party got started, but it tasted as good as it looked!)
Steve made a grated apple pie from his Mum’s recipe (which had never before been written down) and I showed him how to make pastry. It came out really good and I loved the texture of the grated apples.
We also made a big turreen of wassail. Wassail gets its name from the Old English term “waes hael“, meaning “be healthy” a salutation or toast given in drinking someone’s health or as an expression of goodwill at a festivity. The practice has its roots in the middle ages as a reciprocal exchange between the feudal lords and their peasants. The lord of the manor would give food and drink to the peasants in exchange for their blessing and goodwill.
A Traditional Shropshire Wassail Recipe
- 4-5 small apples, cored
- 1 large orange stuck with whole cloves
- 5 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 bottle dry sherry
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 cloves
- 3 allspice berries
- 2 or 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 6-8 pints of cider
- ½ cup brandy
Core the apples and fill each with a teaspoon of brown sugar. Place in a baking pan and cover the bottom with 1/8-inch of water. Insert cloves into the orange about 1/2″ apart. Bake the orange with the apples in a 350° oven. After about 30 minutes, remove from the oven and puncture the orange in several places with a fork or an ice pick.
Combine the sherry, cider, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice berries, cinnamon and sugar in a large, heavy saucepan and heat slowly without letting the mixture come to a boil. Leave on very low heat. Strain the mixture and add the brandy. Float the apples, orange and cinnamon sticks on top and ladle hot into punch cups. It was really tasty and a nice alternative to ubiquitous mulled wine.
Besides our offerings, our guests brought raspberry pavlova, Austrian cheesecake, chocolate bread and butter pudding with double cream, rum and chocolate mousse, peach and pear crumble with clotted cream, lemon cheesecake, warm chocolate cake and . . . .
Syllabub – an Elizabethan dessert made from whipped cream, whipped egg white, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and white wine. It’s quite thick and meant to be spooned from wine glasses.