I've always been slightly baffled by people who love hosting dinner parties and entertaining.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the idea of serving a group of close friends a lovely home-cooked three-course dinner, or watching people delight at being served imaginative canapés.
In fact I even often like to update an imaginary 'food-to-serve-at-a-party' menu in my head.
But truth be told, no matter how easy a recipe looks to me, or how much time I give myself to prepare, it always ends up taking me way more time and effort than I imagined!
Cringe. That's why the thought of hosting always has me shaking in my boots, rather than thinking up matching cutlery combos.
My mum used to host dinners a million times a year when I was growing up, bless her socks. But no, not me, I wasn't blessed with the 'soiree' genes.
I know this is something a lot of us struggle with at this time of the season. And that's where this dessert comes in. A coconut whipped cream, topped with raspberries and homemade peppermint meringues. Its a simple impressive dessert which says winter and Christmas all over it. The best part is it takes no time to put together and you can keep it on hand in the fridge to take out and serve when needed.
There is just a hint of sweetness from the icing sugar in the cream, and the desiccated coconut lends some lovely added nutty texture. Top with raspberries, a sprinkling of toasted coconut, and a few peppermint meringues to enjoy a creamy, fruity dessert with a subtle mix of flavours and crunch.
Obviously you could buy the meringues, but what I like too is that making meringues themselves has to be one of the easiest dessert recipes ever. Plus one recipe makes you easily 100 little meringues, which means you'll have lots to serve in a pretty bowl on the coffee table, keeping guests and kiddies happy.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, if I was to be hosting a Christmas party, this dessert would be my serving savior!
Coconut whipped cream with raspberries and peppermint meringues
Inspired by Simones Kitchen
250ml whipping cream
4 tbsp icing sugar
4 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tbsp coconut cream
Mini peppermint meringues
Toasted desiccated coconut, for garnish
1. Whip the cream with an electric whisk, until stiff peaks form. Add in the icing sugar, desiccated coconut and coconut cream, whisking only for a few seconds until incorporated.
2. Fill dessert bowls with the cream, then top with raspberries and the peppermint meringues, and sprinkle over the toasted desiccated coconut.
For the peppermint meringues
Adapted from Womans Day
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
Red gel colouring
1. Preheat oven to 90 degrees C, and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. In a large glass or metal bowl, whisk together the egg whites, caster sugar and cream of tartar, over a saucepan of simmering water. The bowl should not be touching the water. After 2 to 3 minutes the sugar will have dissolved and the egg whites should be warm to the touch.
3. Remove the bowl from the heat, and using an electric whisk, beat on a low speed. Gradually turn the speed up, beating for about five minutes until soft glossy peaks have formed.
5. Transfer a tablespoon of the mixture to a small bowl and tint with the red gel colouring. Using a skewer and the tinted mixture, draw vertical stripes in a piping bag fitted with a star piping nozzle.
4. Fill the piping bag with the egg white mixture, and pipe small onto the prepared baking tray. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the meringues have just set on the outside, and leave to cool completely.
5. Keep meringues in a tightly sealed tin or contained, and store in a dry and cool place.