Gourmet Traveller

THE SWEET LIFE

Lauren Eldridge is a fan of classic Christmas flavours, such as brandy, heady spices and dried fruit, which you don’t often have at other times of the year. But what the executive pastry chef of Melbourne’s Stokehouse Group is best known for is her contemporary, original take on desserts.

“What I wanted to do with these recipes is to offer some ways to change things up a bit, to highlight the things I love that are around at Christmastime, like Australian summer stone fruit, perhaps even start some new traditions to sit alongside the pudding and Christmas cake.

“These could all sit together on a dessert table or be taken individually as a showpiece to someone’s house,” says Eldridge. “The trifle and the pavlova are familiar but I’ve put a spin on them so that they are more specific to Christmas.”

Eldridge has added apricots as an ode to stone fruit, and makes the meringue base of the pavlova with brown sugar for added richness. And the passionfruit that might typically top the pavlova? She makes it into an ice-cream to serve on the side.

There are also recipes, such as the traditional Danish cookie, Brunkager, that are inspired by her time in Europe. “They’re basically gingerbread but they have a spice mix that includes cardamom and dark brown sugar, and they always have chopped almonds in them,” says Eldridge. “In Denmark, it’s tradition to eat them with filter coffee – for my partner, it’s a real taste of home.”

Eldridge has also included a recipe that combines two things that she loves – Portuguese tarts and eggnog. “Eggnog hasn’t really been an Australian tradition but more people are getting on board with it,” she says. “It’s all about booze and spice, and what could be more Christmassy than that?”

In the interests of a stress-free Christmas, the recipes require a balance of skills from the “no-churn” ice-cream, up to choux pastry for the profiterole wreath. “I tested all of these at home with a domestic oven,” she says. “They’ll keep everybody happy.”

Stokehouse, 30 Jacka Blvd, St Kilda, Vic, (03) 9525 5555, stokehouse.com.au

White chocolate and pistachio profiterole wreath

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