4 egg whites, at room temperature; ½ tsp cream of tartar; 1 cup sugar; 1 tsp pure vanilla extract; red and green gel food colour
Preheat the oven to 110°C. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, until frothy. In case of a freestanding mixer, use wire-whisk attachment.) Now to the above, add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high. Then add sugar, one tbsp at a time. Keep beating until the sugar dissolves and stiff glossy peaks form which will not slide off when the bowl is tilted. Your meringue is ready. Beat in the vanilla extract and the food colour, cut the meringue until well blended. To make meringue cookies, drop the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 2D or large-star tip, and slowly pipe out small circles. Now, to make meringue trees, pipe out a small circle and then make concentric smaller circles, working your way up. Bake both the sheets of meringue together for 45 minutes. Once done, switch off the oven, let the meringues stand for an hour or until they are completely cooled. Serve.
For the pudding: 50 g almonds, blanched, 2 large apples, 150 g candied orange peel, 1 nutmeg, 2 tsp mixed-spice powder, 50 g raisins chopped, 2 tbsp brandy or cognac (add approx 30 ml more for the flambé), 100 g brown sugar, 250 g butter just out of the refrigerator, 3 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla essence, 140 g plain flour, 100 g soft, fresh white breadcrumbs, berries, for garnish
For the brandy-and-ginger-butter sauce: 175 g softened, unsalted butter, 5 tbsp icing sugar, zest of half an orange, 2 pieces of stem ginger finely chopped, 40 ml heavy cream, 4 tbsp brandy or cognac
Chop the almonds coarsely. Peel, core and chop the apples. Chop the candied peel. (While you may run the almonds and apples in a food processor, chop the peel by hand.) Powder the nutmeg. To prepare the mixed-fruit ingredients, mix the almonds, apple, candied peel, mixed-spice powder, nutmeg powder, raisins and the brandy or cognac together. The mixed-fruit ingredients are ready. Cream the brown sugar and butter together. Break the eggs in the bowl and add to it the vanilla essence. Stir the above mixture well, and add in the mixed-fruit ingredients and the flour and breadcrumbs. Mix again. Pour the above into the desired container and bake it in a double-boiler in an oven, at 180°C, for 25–30 minutes. Check if cooked, or keep it on for another 15 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Once done, take it off the oven. Dust it with powdered sugar and garnish with berries. Serve with brandy-and-ginger butter sauce as accompaniment.
Making the brandy-and-ginger-butter sauce: Mix the butter, sugar, orange zest and ginger together in a bowl and let it cook. Heat the cream separately in a microwave oven for 30 seconds on medium heat and add to the above. Then, take the sauce off the heat; slowly add in the brandy and mix well. The brandy-and-ginger-butter sauce is ready.
Note: Pour the brandy-and-ginger butter sauce over the Christmas pudding.
CINNAMON APPLE CRUMBLE
450 g apples, peeled and chopped, 50 g unrefined brown sugar, 1 tbsp plain flour, 1 pinch of ground cinnamon.
For the crumble: 300 g plain flour, sieved with a pinch of salt, 175 g unrefined brown sugar, 200 g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature, a knob of butter for greasing.
For the crumble: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the flour and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Take a few cubes of butter, and rub into the flour mixture one at a time. Keep rubbing till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
For the cinnamon apple crumble: Place the apples in a large bowl and sprinkle the sugar, flour and cinnamon over it. Stir well taking care not to break the fruit. Grease the sides of a 24 × 9 cm ovenproof pan with butter. Spoon the fruit mixture into the bottom and sprinkle the crumble mixture on top. Bake in the oven for 40–45 minutes until the crumble is browned and the fruit mixture, bubbling. Serve hot with a dollop of ice-cream.