Celebrating the festive season with good food, wine, family and friends is very enjoyable if you're happy in the kitchen.
If you're not, you should make sure you get as much as possible done in advance, leaving you free to enjoy the proceedings.
Desserts, for example, can sometimes be labouriously fiddly with too many ingredients.
Personally, I'm not addicted to Christmas pudding, and I know most Spanish and French people shudder at the thought of it.
This coffee-cappuccino mousse however, is dead easy to make and can be made the day before so you don't have to worry about it while you're tucking in to your turkey. Chocolate is a must for Christmas.
Just when you think you can't possibly fit another morsel in your mouth, someone brings out the chocolate truffles and you miraculously find room.
These simple truffles and brandy snaps will be a hit and can also make a great gift to take to anyone you're visiting over Christmas.
When making chocolate desserts and truffles, buy the best quality bitter chocolate you can get hold of. It really does make all the difference.
Most chefs use a top grade chocolate called couverture which has a high proportion of cocoa butter.
Never overheat chocolate and always melt it slowly, making sure that the temperature never rises above 49c.
Stir the chocolate until liquid but never overwork or whisk too vigorously as it can curdle easily.
Happy cooking and have a very happy Christmas.

COFFEE “CAPPUCCINO”

MOUSSE
· 180g Chocolate
· 4 Tbsp Strong Black Coffee
· 5 Egg Whites
· 50g Sugar
· 4 Egg Yolks
l 100ml Cream (whipped)
· 2 Tbsp Tia Maria
l Melt the chocolate with the coffee and remove from the heat. Add the Tia Maria and egg yolks. Now beat the egg whites and sugar to a stiff meringue, fold into the chocolate mixture and then gently fold in the whipped cream.

Pour into moulds or coffee cups and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To serve, pour a little cream and Tia Maria over the top and dust with cocoa powder. Serve with orange-chocolate truffles and brandy snap biscuits.

ORANGE-CHOCOLATE

TRUFFLES
· 600g Dark Chocolate
· 300g Butter
· 200ml Cream
· 2tbsp. Grand Marnier
· Grated zest of half an orange
· 100G Dark Cocoa Powder
l Chop the chocolate or break into small pieces and place in a bowl.
Bring the cream and butter to the boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the chopped chocolate, stirring continuously until all the chocolate has melted. Add the Grand Marnier and grated orange zest. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours.

Sift cocoa powder on to a flat plate, then take heaped half teaspoons of the truffle mixture and dust your hands in cocoa, roll each piece into a ball and then roll it in the cocoa powder.

Place it immediately into a paper case.
Obviously the less handling the better as the warmth of your hands melts the chocolate.
Store in the refrigerator.

BRANDY SNAP BISCUITS
· 55g Butter
· 55g Demarera Sugar
· 55g Golden Syrup
· 55g Plain Flour
l 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger l 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
· Olive Oil for greasing
l Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment, and oil the handles of 4 wooden spoons.
Place the butter, sugar and syrup in a small saucepan and heat gently until the butter and sugar have dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and sift in the flour and the ginger.

Add the lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Place teaspoons of the mixture on to greased baking sheets, at least 10cm apart.
Bake in the preheated oven (160C/325F/Gas 3) for about 6-8 minutes or until the mixture is well spread out and a dark golden colour.
Remove from the oven and leave for a few seconds to firm, then lift and shape round the handle of wooden spoons or drape over a rolling pin. Leave to set on a wire rack.

When cold, store in an airtight tin.

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