In my experience, even a calm and pleasant holiday results in a house strewn with bits of paper, empty boxes filled with styrofoam peanuts, a guilt-inducing list of thank-you notes to be written, and a fridge full of leftovers. Here are three recipes for “recycled” holiday desserts that turn less-than-enjoyable ingredients into actual treats:
Deanna Dement-Myers’ Boxing Day Trifle
My friend Deanna explained Boxing Day Trifle (the day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day in England) to me this way: “You know the bag of shredded wrapping paper and torn ribbon you have at the end of Christmas? It’s like that, only with desserts.”
Deanna makes this in a trifle dish (a flat-sided, clear glass bowl, usually mounted on a pedestal), but any bowl will do. Here are her instructions:
In a trifle dish, artistically layer the following:
Stollen (the kind with fruit from Trader Joe’s will do) cut into slices
Sectioned clementines (or mandarin oranges)
She says, “The stollen and the clementines are what make it a Boxing Day special — you got the clementines in your stocking and the stollen sat out on the Xmas eve buffet, wholly untouched, all night long. Put them together, add whipped cream and pudding, and viola! It becomes edible!”
Fruit Cake and Plum Pudding Ice Cream
I am a fan of melting vanilla ice cream (or eggnog ice cream if you’ve got it) just enough so that you can mix in small chunks of fruitcake, or the even-more-odious substance known as plum pudding. Oddly, despite the fact that the ingredients are loathsome on their own, this is a delicious dessert!
Eggnog French Toast
You can also use leftover eggnog to make fantastic French toast — just substitute it for the milk in your regular recipe. Be sure to add the usual amount of eggs, though. The eggs in the eggnog aren’t enough on their own to make good French toast. (Many years ago my dad heard me talk about using eggnog to make French toast and tried to make it without adding the usual eggs — all he got was eggnog-flavored bread too wet and fragile to cook. It was noggy-soggy.)
Chicory Coffee and Napoleon as locavore …
I was surprised to discover, while researching chicory for an article I wrote a few years ago, that it is the unassuming little blue flower that often grows around the base of telephone poles. (It loves ammonia, hence the doggie-favored location.) The root of the plant looks like a white carrot and can be sliced, roasted, and ground into a powder that can be brewed like coffee.
I also learned that the French developed a taste for chicory during a period when Napoleon forbid any food imports from Britain, turning instead to products that could be produced locally, a policy referred to as “The Continental System.”
It was during this time that the French started roasting chicory root to substitute for coffee, to which they had grown accustomed. Their taste for chicory lingered, and even after France started importing coffee again, they started adding some chicory to the coffee to get the “je ne sais quoi” roasted chicory imparts. If you’ve never tried chicory-laced coffee, you can order it from Café du Monde, based in the French Quarter in New Orleans.