Great Britain

9 best Christmas desserts if a traditional pudding isn’t for you

Who said the turkey was the only centrepiece worth thinking about? We’ve found the best desserts to ensure you round off your Christmas feast on a sweet high.

We’ve focussed purely on proper desserts here. We know Christmas puddings and cakes are the traditional options but in our experience, they are just too heavy and rarely tend to be a hit with the whole family – unlike this selection which we’re certain will go down a treat!

When putting our festive afters to the test, we were looking for those that had the wow factor. 

They needed to look better than the winning GBBO entry and taste every bit as good. Festive spices or retro flavours were a plus, as were OTT decorations. 

If you can’t be a little decadent at Christmas, when can you?

Although most can simply be taken out of the fridge and served, we also couldn’t resist one DIY option. Ideal if you fancy getting your hands dirty – but not that dirty. Who’s got time to make dessert from scratch with everything else to remember anyway?

We tend to think the brands’ serving suggestions are often a tad optimistic. If you want to ensure there’s plenty to go around, we’d suggest erring on the side of caution and sizing up, or buying double.

So, whatever size gathering you’re having, we’ve got a show-stopping festive dessert for you…

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Waitrose queen of trifles 600g (serves 10)

Made up of pretty layers, this elegant dessert looks like something you’d find in a posh Parisian patisserie. There’s sherry-soaked sponge, wobbly raspberry jelly, creamy vanilla custard and a sprinkling of meringue and pistachio for added texture. Forget the kitsch trifles of your youth, this is full-flavoured but deliciously light, and a knock-out way to round-off your Christmas feast.

Taste the Difference tiramichoux dessert 746g (serves 8)

Christmas is all about indulgence – so why have one dessert when you could have two? The development team at Sainsbury’s has combined the delicious coffee-soaked sponge flavours of tiramisu with light, cream-filled profiteroles. There are delicious little pockets of chocolate mousse too and it’s topped with chocolate shavings. Coffee, cream and choux? Sainsbury’s has 'nailed the Christmas day dessert. Although Sainsbury’s say it serves eight, we reckon it’s more six to eight people, depending on how full you are from the turkey.

Iceland millionaire salted caramel gold bar cheesecake 652g (serves 6)

Everyone loves cheesecake but Iceland has taken inspiration from a gold bullion bar for their festive spin on this one. We loved the soft biscuit base, creamy caramel middle and layer of salted caramel sauce. The Belgium chocolate slab topper is also delicious but it does make serving even slices a little tricky, as it cracks under the knife. We’d be tempted to just pop the whole thing in the middle of the table and let everyone dive in. It arrives frozen and will need two-hours to thaw, so do factor that into your prep time. And this will easily serve six people, well done Iceland!

M&S Collection golden balls 620g (serves 8)

As much as we’d love David Beckham waiting for us under the tree this Christmas, these golden balls from M&S are probably as close as we’re going to get to the real deal. There’s always room for a much-loved profiterole and this stack contains 30 light choux pastries, filled with cream and covered with salted caramel, mini golden malteser-type balls and a gold lustre. Although if you split the balls evenly, according to the brand’s serving suggestion, each person will end up with 3.75 pieces each. Good luck dishing that one up!  

Cook chocolate and caramel wreath 1040g (serves 10-12)

This festive sweet wreath is a combination of crowd-pleasing marbled vanilla and chocolate sponge and chocolate mousse, covered with whipped cream. We can’t imagine anyone could resist a slice. It’s topped with more caramel and chocolate drizzle, milk chocolate toffee balls, shards of dark chocolate and gold lustre. The only thing we would say is, it’s all quite beige. To brighten it up a bit, the brand suggests serving with fresh raspberries. We must be particularly greedy because we can’t see this serving more than eight people.

Mr Prempy’s orange and Christmas spice dessert 850g

Organic, vegan and utterly delicious, whether you follow a plant-based lifestyle or not, this dairy-free cheesecake, is sure to wow. The “cheese” bit is made with cashew nuts and it’s infused with festive spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, along with fresh orange juice and zest – it smells amazing. Handmade (just not with your fair hands), it’s free from refined sugar too, using just the natural sweetness of maple syrup. All in all, this is every bit as indulgent as you’d want Christmas dessert to be and we loved it. They don’t say how many it serves but we think you’ll easily get six to eight slices out of it, as it’s quite rich.

Tesco Finest chocolate orange and maple bauble cake 1080g (serves 14)

With a convincing-looking chocolate bauble decoration, this is quite the centrepiece. We loved that the centre spilled out to reveal chocolate balls when you cut into it – this is definitely one to dish out at the table. The rich chocolate orange sponge is decorated with sweet maple buttercream and although probably a little too heavy for after Christmas lunch, we reckon this is a great cake to have on standby during the festive season – we’re sure you’ll find an occasion.

Pleesecake build your own Saint Nicks surprise (8-10): £38, Pleesecake

This DIY kit is a great alternative to making dessert from scratch (but don’t worry, you’ll still get all the credit). Fun for the whole family, each pack contains a frozen cheesecake ready to be topped with treats. With chocolate shards, ganache and cookie dough, there’s even mini mince pies, candy canes and edible snow to really make this a Christmas dessert to remember. Entertaining and delicious, what’s not to love! There are only 100 kits available though, so if you want in, you’ll need to move fast.

The verdict: Christmas desserts

Waitrose’s queen of trifles is everything a great Christmas dessert should be. Beautiful, vibrant layers, a modern take on retro flavours and light enough for a slice after the main event. We’re also huge fans of Hackney Gelato’s limited-edition flavours – if you can get your hand on a tub it’s well worth keeping in the freezer (not that it’ll last that long!)

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