Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Gingerbread meets egg nog

Save room for dessert after Christmas dinner or enjoy these sweet treats on Boxing Day

With Christmas only a week away, dessert for the feast needs to be decided upon, even though I suspect no one will have room for it immediately after dinner.

Of course, there is always a great assortment of cookies and squares, and the traditional puddings, mince tarts, pies or Christmas cakes; but if you want something lighter and non-traditional, I offer two suggestions today.  The first combines two of the holiday season’s best flavours, gingerbread and egg nog. This dessert is easy to make and a crowd pleaser! If you are feeling fancy, you can pipe your top layer of whipped cream on the trifle. The second dessert is a kid favourite and an easy, make ahead dessert that they will all enjoy.

Eggnog

Gingerbread Trifle

1 (14.5 oz.) package gingerbread cake mix

1 (5.1 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix

3 cups eggnog

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped (optional)

2 Tbsp. gingersnap cookie crumbs (optional)

Prepare gingerbread cake mix and bake according to package directions (any size pan). Cool completely.

Place the pudding mix in a large bowl. Pour in the eggnog and whisk for about 2 minutes. Refrigerate pudding until the gingerbread cake is cool and you are ready to assemble the trifle.

In large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in sugar and vanilla until peaks form.

Crumble 1/2 of the gingerbread into the bottom of a trifle bowl or a large glass bowl. Spread 1/2 of the eggnog pudding over the gingerbread, then spread 1/2 of the whipped cream on top of the pudding. Repeat the layers with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped cream. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.

Sprinkle the top with the cranberries and cookie crumbs before serving.

Chocolate-Banana

Ice Cream Pie

60 vanilla wafer cookies (about three-quarters of a 12-oz. box)

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus toasted coconut for topping (optional)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 medium bananas

1 pint vanilla ice cream

1 pint chocolate ice cream

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

60 vanilla wafer cookies (about three-quarters of a 12-oz. box)

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus toasted coconut for topping (optional)

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 medium bananas

1 pint vanilla ice cream

1 pint chocolate ice cream

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

Pulse cookies, coconut and butter in a food processor until finely ground. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Slice the bananas and arrange in a layer over the crust. Freeze until the crust sets, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, let the vanilla ice cream soften at room temperature.   Spread the vanilla ice cream evenly over the banana layer. Freeze until firm, about 2 hours. Let the chocolate ice cream soften at room temperature, then spread over the vanilla layer. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.

Remove the pie from the freezer 20 minutes before serving.

Beat the cream and confectioners’ sugar with a mixer until soft peaks form, then spread over the pie. Top with toasted coconut, if desired.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.