Almond & Mincemeat Christmas Sponge Cake

Cheat's Gluten-Free Christmas Cake

This Almond & Mincemeat Christmas Sponge Cake is like a cheat’s Christmas cake as it’s an easy cake to assemble last minute and is full of festive flavour. A lightly spiced almond sponge rings in the season with its secret ingredient – mincemeat. Drizzled to perfection with a quick tipsy Brandy Cream Icing.

Almond & Mincemeat Christmas Sponge Cake on a cake stand surrounded by greenery

I know how it is, with a busy household, all our Christmas baking come sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. Did you run out of time for your traditional Christmas Cake? Do you need a last minute offering that’s just as impressive? Or perhaps you like things a little lighter anyway and you want a version that’s more sponge than fruit.

Well this mincemeat Christmas cake is a brilliant festive bake to have up your sleeve come December. It’s my favourite way to keep a Christmas cake in the mix whilst making it a little more accessible for those family members who aren’t sold on the hefty traditional number.

Close up of a slice of Almond & Mincemeat Christmas Sponge Cake with a bite taken out

Why makes this Christmas Sponge Cake so good?

  • It’s festive with spices, brandy and plump fruits.
  • It’s primarily a sponge cake and not a fruit cake – it’s so much lighter and a bit more modern.
  • Incredibly quick to assemble.
  • Great use of leftover mincemeat.
  • The recipe below is gluten-free but it’s easy to swap in regular plain flour if you prefer.

Mincemeat

Mincemeat is our secret ingredient to make this cake taste like an actual Christmas sponge cake. All the flavour is right there is our ready-prepared mincemeat. It makes this recipe so easy!

You can happily make this cake with shop bought mincemeat but if you are in the market for some homemade mincemeat recipes then all of these work perfectly in this cake:

Close up of Almond & Mincemeat Christmas Sponge Cake on a cake stand

Almond Christmas Cake

We use ground almonds in this recipe to ensure the sponge stays beautifully moist with plenty of fluffiness. Plus the nuts add a lovely backdrop of flavour to this christmas sponge cake.

Pro Baker’s Tip: Grind your own almonds for more nutty flavour. The cake will also have a pleasantly nubby texture that sits really nicely with the mincemeat.

Which flour do we use to make this cake?

If you are making this cake gluten-free you can use your favourite brand of gluten-free flour. I like Doves Farm Plain White Gluten-Free Flour as it doesn’t contain xanthan gum.

If you are not gluten-free then plain white flour will work well.

What else do we need?

This is a classic sponge cake so all our regular ingredients are here:

  • Caster sugar
  • Unsalted butter – at room temperature
  • Eggs – 6 medium eggs make this cake lovely and rich
  • Vanilla extract – not essence, always extract – for the best flavour. I recommend Nielsen Massey.
  • Baking powder
  • Mixed spice – to really accentuate our Christmassy flavours.

Close up of Almond & Mincemeat Christmas Sponge Cake with slice taken out

How do you make this Almond & Mincemeat Christmas Sponge Cake

For full recipe instructions go to the recipe card at the end of this post.

The steps are simple:

  1. Cream the sugar with the butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat the eggs in one at a time then add the vanilla extract.
  3. Whisk the flour with the almonds, baking powder and salt then beat into the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Stir in the mincemeat.
  5. Pour the batter into a 9 inch cake tin, smoothing out the surface then bake for 1 hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the tin and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack before icing.

Brandy Butter Icing

The brandy butter icing is gorgeously subtle with brandy and sweet and buttery. However, if you would rather make an icing without the booze then just omit the brandy and add in a little more whole milk and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Here are the easy steps to make it:

  1. Stir the icing sugar together with the double cream until smooth.
  2. Stir in the brandy one tablespoon at a time until the icing has reached a thick dropping consistency.

Pro Baker’s Tips

  • To get that gorgeous drip effect just spoon the icing over the top of the cake nudging it towards the edges so it drips down the sides.
  • The Brandy Cream Icing is gorgeously sweet, creamy and subtle with brandy. However, if you would rather make an icing without the booze then just omit the brandy and add in more milk and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Close up of a slice of Almond & Mincemeat Christmas Sponge Cake on a plate with the whole cake behind

FAQs

How long does it keep for? – This cake keeps well stored in an airtight container in a cool dark place for up to 3 days. 

Can you freeze it? – Yes it freezes very well. I’d recommend to freeze without icing if you are freezing the whole cake. Wrap up well in a double layer of cling film and then aluminium foil to avoid spoilage. Defrost overnight on the kitchen counter before unwrapping and icing.

Recommended equipment – Stand Mixer, Silicone Spatula, 23cm Springform Cake Tin, Baking Parchment, Cake Release Spray, Cooling Racks, Christmas Tree Cake Decoration, Reindeer Cake Decoration

More festive bakes you’ll love!

If you make this Almond & Mincemeat Christmas Sponge Cake then please leave a comment below and give the recipe a rating which helps others find the recipe on Google. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Almond & Mincemeat Christmas Sponge Cake

This Almond & Mincemeat Christmas Sponge Cake is like a cheat’s Christmas cake as it’s an easy cake to assemble last minute and is full of festive flavour. A lightly spiced almond sponge rings in the season with its secret ingredient – mincemeat. Drizzled to perfection with a quick tipsy Brandy Cream Icing.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 561kcal

Ingredients

  • 275 g caster sugar
  • 200 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 6 eggs medium
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 180 g gluten-free plain flour
  • 180 g ground almonds
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoons ground mixed spice
  • 280 g mincemeat

Brandy Cream Icing

  • 300 g icing sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons double cream
  • 3-4 tablespoons brandy

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.
  • Line and grease a 9 inch round cake tin.
  • Cream the sugar with the butter on a slow to medium speed for about 6 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Beat the eggs in one at a time, mixing well between additions.
  • Add the vanilla extract.
  • Whisk the flour with the almonds, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl then beat into the rest of the ingredients.
  • Stir in the mincemeat.
  • Pour the batter into the cake tin, smoothing out the surface then bake for 1 hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Leave for about 5 minutes for the cake to settle then carefully remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack before icing.

Brandy Cream Icing

  • Stir the icing sugar together with the double cream until smooth.
  • Stir in the brandy one tablespoon at a time until the icing has reached a thick dropping consistency.
  • Spoon over the top of the cake nudging it towards the edges so it drips down the sides.

Notes

  • This recipe was made using a suet based mincemeat so there was a bit more fat in the mix. If you are using a non-suet mincemeat then increase the butter by 20g.
  • You can use your favourite shop bought mincemeat or to make the cake really special - use homemade!
  • This cake keeps well stored in an airtight container in a cool dark place for up to 3 days.
  • The cake freezes very well. I’d recommend to freeze before you ice it if you are freezing the whole cake. Wrap up well in a double layer of cling film and then aluminium foil to avoid spoilage. Defrost overnight on the kitchen counter before unwrapping and icing.

Nutrition

Calories: 561kcal | Carbohydrates: 78g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 262mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 64g | Vitamin A: 590IU | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 1.5mg

This recipe was originally published in December 2018 but updated in November 2020 with clearer instructions.

Cranberry Clementine Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Clementine Sauce is the perfect accompaniment to the festive turkey. The bright shiny flavours are enhanced by a touch of spice.

cranberry sauce in a glass bowl on a white tablecloth surrounded by clementines and greenery

If you could give or take Cranberry Sauce on your festive table then it’s quite possible that it’s because you have never had a homemade cranberry sauce. My friend, this is quite a different beast and you will be smitten!

The syrupy sweet congealed sauce that is dolloped obligingly out of a jar is light years away from the ruby red zesty rich cranberry sauce made with fresh cranberries, a touch of citrus and a whisper of spices.

Cranberry Clementine Sauce in a glass bowl on a white tablecloth

Why should you make this Cranberry Clementine Sauce?

  • It’s so easy. Quicker than dragging your boots on, back out in the snow to the only all-night grocery.
  • Cranberries and clementines are the perfect partnership – bringing out the best in each other. A sweet and tangy compliment of flavour.
  • It adds more than just sweetness to your plate as it seems to make everything taste fresher somehow.
  • This recipe also keeps really well – you simply must load up the fridge with jars so you still have plenty to delve into well into next year.

Cranberry Clementine Sauce on a white tablecloth surrounded by clementines and greenery

How do you make Homemade Cranberry Clementine Sauce?

  1. Pour the water and sugar into a saucepan and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the cranberries and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring well. Once the cranberries are just beginning to break down then remove from the heat and stir in the spices and clementine zest.
  3. Store in the fridge in an airtight container until the sauce until needed.

Pro Tips and FAQs

  • Try not to break up those cranberries too much. They are lovely whole and bursting in your mouth when you take a bite.
  • This Cranberry Sauce keeps very well refrigerated due to the sugar syrup. Up to 2 months at least so it’s a great job to make ahead.
  • It’s worth noting that I’ve had huge success in canning this Cranberry Sauce in jars via the water bath method to ensure extra longevity. 10 minutes in the water bath is plenty. 

READ MORE >>> Water Bath Canning

Cranberry Clementine Sauce in a glass bowl on a white tablecloth surrounded by clementines and greenery

Have leftover cranberry sauce? Use it in these recipes:

Homemade Cranberry Clementine Sauce is also one of the easiest ways to take your festive feast to another level. . Since I began making it myself I have become a little obsessed with the stuff and now deem it a non-negotiable accompaniment to most of my meals throughout November and December. 

Plus, our turkey sandwiches just wouldn’t be the same without a generous smear of homemade cranberry sauce mixing it up with the mayonnaise. Just thinking of it now makes me long for Boxing Day!

I urge you to give this Cranberry Clementine Sauce a try. If you do then please leave a comment below and give the recipe a rating which helps others find the recipe on Google. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own culinary creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Cranberry Clementine Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Clementine Sauce is the perfect accompaniment to the festive turkey. The bright shiny flavours are enhanced by a touch of spice.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: British
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 90kcal

Ingredients

  • 150 ml caster sugar
  • 120 ml water
  • 300 g fresh cranberries
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • zest of 1 clementine

Instructions

  • Pour the water and sugar into a saucepan and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the cranberries and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring well. Once the cranberries are just beginning to break down then remove from the heat and stir in the spices and clementine zest.
  • Chill the sauce until needed.

Notes

  • Try not to break the cranberries up too much when heating. You want about half of them to be lovely and whole and the other half squidgy and saucey.
  • This Cranberry Clementine Sauce keeps for an inordinately long time in the fridge since the sugar syrup preserves the sauce very well. You can easily make this sauce weeks in advance, although there’s no guarantee there’ll be any left for Christmas Day if you do that.
  • I have also had great success in canning this Cranberry Clementine Sauce via the water bath method to ensure extra longevity. After all, I still want to be eating my cranberry sauce well into June next year.
  • This recipe was adapted from a cookery class I attended many years ago at Divertimenti Cookery School in London. I have long since lost any details regarding the original writer of this recipe or which cookery class it was exactly I attended. It’s a pretty safe bet it was some sort of a Christmas cookery class though.

Nutrition

Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 31mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 25IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.1mg

This recipe was originally published in November 2017 but updated in November 2020 with clarification on the method.

Chocolate Cranberry & Clementine Cake

Chocolate Cranberry & Clementine Cake has two layers of moist chocolate orange sponge sandwiched with cranberry sauce and generously frosted with chocolate orange buttercream, sugared cranberries and candied clementine slices. Made with gluten-free flours.

Chocolate Cranberry Clementine Cake on a white plate on a wooden board

This gorgeous chocolate cranberry cake is a perfect compromise for all the cake lovers in your family who aren’t impressed with a traditional Christmas cake. However you can bet your bottom dollar they are big fans of a good fudgy chocolate cake.

Fresh clementine zest is used in the cake sponge to make a lovely moist chocolate clementine cake which is sandwiched together with cranberry sauce also laced with clementine which is tangy and sweet. In fact the whole cake has a kind of Terry’s Chocolate Orange vibe going on but a touch more sophisticated.

A slice being pulled out of Chocolate Cranberry Clementine Cake

Why is this recipe so brilliant?

  • Boasts all the best flavours of the season – fruity cranberry, zesty clementine and fudgy chocolate.
  • Ideal alternative to a traditional Christmas Cake if you need a change of pace from all the spiced dried fruit.
  • It’s a real showstopper of a cake. The sugared cranberries and candied clementine slices are well worth the extra trouble for their beautiful frosted effect.
  • A great recipe to use up leftover cranberry sauce!

READ MORE >>> Cranberry Clementine Sauce

Chocolate Cranberry Clementine Cake on a white plate on a wooden board

Which flour do we use for this cake?

This recipe below is made with gluten-free flours but if you are not gluten-free you can just substitute with 230g plain white flour.

Chocolate cakes are quite forgiving gluten-free recipes as they let you get away with most flours. This little trio though is perfect if you want a cake that is moist but with great structure.

1. White Rice Flour

This is a great economical gluten-free flour which works here due to its neutral taste and light texture. Too much rice flour though can get a little claggy so we need to balance it out.

2. Oat Flour

Used here for fluffiness and flavour. That toasted butterscotch taste is a great backdrop for the chocolate.

3. Tapioca Flour

Needed to help with the structure of the cake

Substitution Tip – You can swap the oat flour for buckwheat flour, teff flour or sorghum flour.

Shop the ingredients: Gluten-Free White Rice Flour, Gluten-Free-Oat Flour, Gluten-Free Tapioca Flour

Overhead view of Chocolate Cranberry Clementine Cake on a white plate on a wooden board

Pro Baker’s Tips for the fudgiest chocolate cake!

  • Make with both cocoa powder and melted chocolate for full-on chocolate flavour.
  • Using good quality 70% dark chocolate will give your cake the best flavour. No cooking chocolate here!
  • We use buttermilk here to add a great tang which cuts through the richness of the chocolate.
  • Instant espresso powder is essential to bring out the real chocolatey taste (you can’t taste the coffee flavour)

More chocolate cakes you’ll love!

Easy steps to make the cake

For full recipe instructions go to the recipe card at the end of this post.

  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or bowl set over pan of simmering water) then set aside.
  2. Whisk the flours, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, coffee and salt together and set aside.
  3. In another bowl (or a stand mixer) beat together the buttermilk, the sugars, clementine zest, olive oil, eggs and vanilla then add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
  4. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix in until fully incorporated.
  5. Divide between the two cake tins then bake for 30-35 minutes.

Recommended Equipment: Double Boiler, 8 inch round cake tins, Stand Mixer, Silicone Spatula, Cooling Racks

Chocolate Cranberry Clementine Cake on a white plate on a wooden board

The Cake Filling: Cranberry Sauce

A deliciously zesty cranberry sauce is used to sandwich together the 2 sponge layers. You can use any kind of leftover cranberry sauce you have to hand.

Pro Baker’s Tips

  • For the ultimate version of this cake I recommend making this Cranberry Clementine Sauce – the flavours are perfect, the recipe is super quick and you’ll have a decent amount leftover for the rest of the holiday season.
  • However if you are using your own recipe or a shop bought cranberry sauce then I suggest warming it up gently in a saucepan with extra clementine (or orange) zest. The heat will allow the zesty flavour properly penetrate the sauce. Allow to cool completely before you use though.

The Best Chocolate Buttercream

The whole cake is generously slathered with the most chocolatey of buttercreams using intense cocoa and melted dark chocolate plus the juice of the two clementines you zested for the sponge.

The easy steps to make it

For full instructions go to the recipe card at the end of this post.

  1. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add cocoa powder, melted chocolate, clementine juice, salt and vanilla extract and beat into the creamed butter and sugar until everything is smooth and evenly combined.

A slice being pulled out of Chocolate Cranberry Clementine Cake

Decorating the cake: Sugared Cranberries and Candied Clementine

What makes this cake truly special is the festive decoration of this cake. Of course it’s absolutely delicious as it is but if you want to go that extra mile then this decoration is easier than you think and incredibly effective.

For full recipe instructions on these go to the recipe card at the end of this post.

How to make sugared cranberries

  1. Simmer caster sugar with water until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Allow to cool a little then pour in the cranberries and stir to coat evenly with the sugar syrup.
  3. Place in the fridge overnight.
  4. Remove the cranberries from the syrup with a slotted spoon, pat dry with a kitchen towel then spread out evenly onto baking parchment.
  5. Roll the cranberries so they are totally coated with sugar.
  6. Leave to dry for at least an hour before using.

How to make candied clementines

  1. Simmer caster sugar with water until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Submerge clementine slices into the sugar syrup and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the clementine with a slotted spoon then place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes at 150°C. Turn the slices over and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool before you use them to decorate.

And there you have it, a stunning Chocolate Cranberry Clementine Cake to ring in those festivities.

FAQs

How long does the finished cake keep for?

The cake keeps for up to 5 days if refrigerated and up to 3 days if kept out of the fridge but in an airtight tin kept in a cool dark place. If refrigerated, remove and bring up to room temperature (about 2 hours) before serving.

Can you freeze it?

Yes, this cake freezes brilliantly. You can freeze the sponge cakes before you add the buttercream. Wrap up well individually and allow to defrost overnight before decorating. You could freeze the whole cake but the buttercream would smudge when wrapping for the freezer. I usually freeze the leftover cake in slices wrapped up well in airtight containers.

More holiday desserts you’ll love!

I urge you to give this Chocolate Cranberry & Clementine Cake a try. If you do then please leave a comment below and give the recipe a rating which helps others find the recipe on Google. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own culinary creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Chocolate Cranberry & Clementine Cake {gluten-free}

Chocolate Cranberry & Clementine Cake has two layers of moist chocolate orange sponge sandwiched with cranberry sauce and generously frosted with chocolate orange buttercream, sugared cranberries and candied clementine slices. Made with gluten-free flours
Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time2 hrs 5 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 1071kcal

Ingredients

Cranberry Clementine Cake

  • 125 g dark chocolate
  • 150 g white rice flour
  • 60 g oat flour
  • 20 g tapioca flour
  • 90 g cocoa powder
  • teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 400 g buttermilk
  • 160 g caster sugar
  • 160 g soft light brown sugar
  • zest of 2 clementines + 1 extra clementine for the cranberry sauce (see notes)
  • 170 ml olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract
  • 200 g cranberry sauce see notes

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 500 g unsalted butter
  • 500 g icing sugar
  • 90 g cocoa powder
  • 150 g chocolate melted
  • juice of 2 clementines
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sugared Cranberries

  • 120 g + 60g caster sugar
  • 120 ml water
  • 125 g fresh cranberries

Candied Clementines

  • 2 clementines
  • 120 g caster sugar
  • 120 ml water

Instructions

Cranberry Clementine Cake

  • Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line and grease 2 x 8 inch round cake tins.
  • Melt the chocolate in a bain marie then set aside.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, coffee and salt and set aside.
  • In another bowl (or a stand mixer) beat together the buttermilk, the sugars, clementine zest, olive oil, eggs and vanilla then add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
  • Pour in the melted chocolate and mix in until fully incorporated.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two cake tins then place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Turn out the cakes and cool on wire racks before filling and decorating.

Chocolate Buttercream

  • Beat together the butter and sugar for about 10 minutes in a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Add cocoa, melted chocolate, clementine juice, salt and vanilla extract and beat into the creamed butter and sugar until everything is smooth and evenly combined.

Sugared Cranberries

  • Pour the 120g of caster sugar into a medium saucepan with the water. Bring to a low boil until the sugar dissolves.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Pour in the cranberries and stir to coat evenly with the sugar syrup.
  • Place in the fridge overnight.
  • The next day remove the cranberries from the syrup with a slotted spoon, pat dry with a kitchen towel then spread out evenly onto a plate.
  • Sprinkle over the remaining 60g of caster sugar and gently roll the cranberries so they are totally coated with sugar.
  • Leave to dry for at least an hour before using.

Candied Clementine Slices

  • Pour caster sugar into a medium saucepan with the water. Bring to a low boil until the sugar dissolves.
  • Cut the clementines into thin slices then submerge into the sugar syrup. Bring the syrup back to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off.
  • Remove the clementine slices from the sugar syrup (reserve the syrup for clementine bellinis on Christmas morning*) with a slotted spoon then place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Bake for 10 minutes at 150°C. Turn the slices over and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool before you use them to decorate.

Assembly

  • Place one of the sponge layers on a cake board and pipe a circle of buttercream at the very edge of the top of the cake to act like a dam for the cranberry sauce.
  • Spread the cranberry sauce on top of the sponge, right to the edges of the buttercream dam.
  • Place the second sponge layer on top and cover the top and the sides of the cake with the buttercream.
  • Decorate the top of the cake with the sugared cranberries and candied clementines.

Notes

  • If you are not gluten-free you can swap the 3 gluten-free flours for 230g plain white flour instead.
  • For the whole cake you can use any kind of orange zest and juice – it doesn’t have to be clementines – but they do give a gorgeous tangy flavour.
  • I recommend this Homemade Cranberry Clementine Sauce for the cake filling. Alternatively, you can use any leftover cranberry sauce, homemade or shop bought, warm it up in a small saucepan with the zest of 1 clementine and leave to cool until needed.
  • To make Clementine Bellinis all you need is 1 tablespoon of the clementine syrup at the bottom of your champagne glass and top it up with plenty of fizz.
  • This cake freezes well. Either freeze the sponges individually before decorating with buttercream or freeze leftover cake in slices. In both instances wrap up well to avoid spoilage.
  • The finished cake will keep for up to 5 days if refrigerated, or up to 3 days out of the fridge in an airtight tin.

Nutrition

Calories: 1071kcal | Carbohydrates: 134g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 61g | Saturated Fat: 30g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 573mg | Potassium: 493mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 105g | Vitamin A: 1170IU | Vitamin C: 7.8mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 4.4mg

This post was originally published in December 2017 but has been updated in November 2020 with clearer instructions and more tips and tricks to make this cake sparkle.

Cheesy & Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin

This Cheesy & Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin is easy to make without the need for a béchamel sauce. Shredded brussels are gently cooked in butter with finely cut leeks then smothered with a rich and creamy cheese sauce. Grilled until golden and bubbling.

Brussel Sprout and Leek Gratin in a cast iron pan on wooden board

Once I made the smart decision to combine two of our traditional Christmas side dishes into one there was no looking back and I am flabbergasted that I have never done it before.

A Cheesy Brussels Sprouts Gratin is a staple for our festive table but the addition of shredded leeks which was usually our Spring take on the dish is such a revelation.

I’m sure you have a few brussels sprouts hold outs in the family but combined with buttered leeks in this rich creamy cheese sauce this dish will definitely encourage a few converts.

brussel sprouts in a colander next to leeks

Why are these Cheesy and Creamy Brussels Sprouts such a brilliant side dish?

  • Brussels sprouts and leeks are a vegetable marriage to last the ages.
  • It’s a brussels sprout dish to convert the most adamant haters.
  • It only take 25 minutes and is completely foolproof. No lumpy sauces here.
  • You don’t need to make a béchamel sauce. Using cornflour is an easy way to make a cheese sauce which also makes it gluten-free.
  • The perfect side dish which is delicious enough to be the main event for the vegetarians at the table.
  • The cheese sauce is easy to make, rich with both mature cheddar cheese and cream cheese.
  • Full of flavour thanks to smart seasoning.
  • Honey dijon mustard. It adds incredible depth to the sauce.
  • That final grilling means crunchy golden breadcrumbs and bubbling cheese – a tempting sight to add to the table.
  • Easy to make-ahead or freeze.

Shredded brussel sprouts and leeks in a pan

What ingredients do you need for this Brussels Sprout Gratin?

  • Brussels Sprouts – wash, trim the stalk and peel off any grubby layers before shredding.
  • Leeks – wash, trim the ends and slice into thin coins to prepare.
  • Butter – use unsalted so you can control the salt content.
  • Whole Milk – using whole milk means the sauce is very creamy.
  • Cornflour – makes the sauce lovely thick and smooth.
  • Mature Cheddar Cheese – I love a sharp mature cheddar but you can sub for any melting cheese you fancy. Red leicester or gruyere are also lovely choices.
  • Cream Cheese – I always use Philadelphia. It adds lovely richness to the sauce
  • Honey Dijon Mustard – the sweetness of this mustard makes all the difference.
  • Seasoning – onion granules, garlic powder, salt and pepper add lovely depth.
  • Breadcrumbs – I use gluten-free breadcrumbs but you can use any.

Close up of Brussel Sprout and Leek Gratin in a saucepan

How do you make Cheesy and Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin?

  1. Cook the shredded Brussels and leeks in butter on a gentle heat for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat whilst you prepare the sauce.Brussel sprouts and leeks cooking in a pan
  2. Whisk the cornflour with the milk in a saucepan, then turn on the heat and whisk until bubbling and thick.
  3. Add the cheddar, cream cheese, mustard and seasoning and stir until the sauce is thick and smooth.preparing cheese sauce in a saucepancheese sauce in a saucepan
  4. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and mix until thoroughly combined.Cheese sauce being poured over brussel sprouts and leeks
  5. Transfer the cheesy sprouts and leeks to an oven-to-table dish and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and extra cheese.Brussel Sprout and Leek Gratin ready to go into the oven
  6. Grill until golden and bubbling.Brussel Sprout and Leek Gratin in a cast iron pan on wooden board

Pro Tips

  • Peel off the outer layer of the Brussels and trim off the stalks to prepare.
  • Shred the brussels and leeks as thin as you can for beautiful ribbony vegetables.
  • You want the Brussels and leeks to be wilted in the butter but just turning golden at the edges.
  • Swap out mature cheddar cheese for red leicester for a beautiful festive colour.
  • If you can’t get hold of honey dijon mustard then regular dijon will do.

Recommended Equipment to make Cheesy Brussel Sprout and Leek Gratin

  • Microplane Course Cheese Grater – It grates quickly and is so easy to wield.
  • Flexi Whisk – In a similar vein I have a lot of different whisks but my favourite for sauces is a flexi whisk which gets into all the nooks and crannies of the saucepan meaning you get no unnecessary lumps.
  • Oven-to-Table Pan – I wouldn’t necessarily but for our weekly Sunday lunches you can bet I make and serve my gratins in my favourite cast iron pan. It’s large enough that the pan can accommodate one-pan meals and small enough that it can fit into most ovens. Plus it looks pretty good on the table as part of a homestyle meal.

Make Ahead – This dish is so easy to prepare in advance. I usually get it to the stage before the final grill. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Transfer the gratin to an oven-to-table dish and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and extra cheese.

However, at this point heat the dish in the oven instead of the grill to ensure the dish is piping hot. Cook at 180°C for 20 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Freeze – You can freeze any leftovers no problem. However, you can also make the dish ahead of time as above. But instead of storing in the fridge you can freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost completely before cooking in the oven.

Close up of Brussel Sprout and Leek Gratin in a saucepan

Variations of Cheesy & Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin

  • Add cooked and chopped streaky bacon into the gratin before the final grill.
  • Sub in some blue cheese into the sauce for a lovely complex dish.
  • Include shredded kale into the proceedings.

Try these recipes if you are looking for more delicious side dishes

Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cheese
Carrot and Swede Mash
Braised Red Cabbage
Cream Baked Roast Potatoes
Chestnut and Sage Stuffing
Gluten-Free Yorkshire Puddings
Gluten-Free Gravy

If you make Cheesy & Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin then please leave a comment below and give the recipe a rating which will help others find the recipe on Google. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own culinary creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Cheesy & Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin

This Cheesy & Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin is easy to make without the need for a béchamel sauce. Shredded brussels are gently cooked in butter with finely cut leeks then smothered with a rich and creamy cheese sauce. Grilled until golden and bubbling.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: British
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 290kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 750 g brussels sprouts bottom stem removed then shredded
  • 2 leeks washed, topped and tailed and sliced into thin rounds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 500 ml whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons cornflour
  • 150 g mature cheddar cheese + 50g extra to sprinkle
  • 150 g cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons honey dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion granules
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs you can use gluten-free breadcrumbs

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a large wide bottomed saucepan then add the shredded brussels sprouts and leeks with the salt.
  • Cook the brussels sprouts and leeks for 10-15 minutes on a gentle-medium heat stirring occasionally. The leaves should be wilted and just starting to turn golden at the edges.
  • Remove from heat and set aside whilst you prepare the cheese sauce.
  • Whisk together the milk and cornflour in a large saucepan until smooth. Then turn on the heat and bring up to a gentle boil, whisking all the time. As soon as the sauce begins to boil then the mixture will begin to thicken.
  • Add the cheddar cheese, cream cheese, Dijon mustard, onion granules, garlic powder and salt and stir in until the sauce is thick and smooth. Once the sauce just beings to bubble then remove from the heat.
  • Pour the sauce over the brussels sprouts and leeks and mix together until fully combined. Transfer to an oven-to-table dish and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and extra cheddar cheese.
  • Place the dish under a grill on medium-heat for 5-10 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cheese is bubbling.
  • Serve straightaway.

Video

Notes

  • Serves 6-8 people as a side dish
  • Peel off the outer layer of the Brussels and trim off the stalks to prepare.
  • Shred the brussels and leeks as thin as you can for beautiful ribbony vegetables.
    You want the Brussels and leeks to be wilted in the butter but just turning golden at the edges.
  • Swap out mature cheddar cheese for any melting cheese you like. Festive coloured Red Leicester or nutty gruyere are lovely choices.
  • If you can’t get hold of honey dijon mustard then regular dijon will do.
  • Before the final grill transfer into an ovenware dish you would be proud to serve at your table.
  • Make ahead – prepare the dish up the final grilling stage. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days then transfer to an oven-to-table dish, sprinkle on the breadcrumbs and cheese. But do cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 180°C to ensure the dish is piping hot.
  • Freeze – You can freeze the finished dish or the gratin up to the final grilling stage. Defrost completely then re-heat according to the advice above.

Nutrition

Calories: 290kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 384mg | Potassium: 536mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1706IU | Vitamin C: 82mg | Calcium: 277mg | Iron: 2mg

This post was updated in October 2020 to give it extra sparkle but the recipe remains the same.

Chestnut Brownies {gluten-free}

These Chestnut Brownies are dark, fudgy and deliciously nutty. An easy festive brownie which is topped with an incredibly light whipped chestnut ganache.

Chestnut Brownies on a wooden board

Think chestnuts roasting on an open fire then baked into irresistible brownies for a festive treat. There is something so warming and comforting about chestnuts and I love including them in my festive baking.

The creamy nutty flavour of the chestnut flour is chocolate’s soulmate. It gives the brownie such depth and their intense courtship is lightened up with the whipped chestnut ganache which you should skip at your peril.

Close up image of Chestnut Brownie on its side on a wooden board

What makes these Chestnut Brownies so darn good?

  • The only flour involved here is chestnut flour which lends a rich nutty vibe to the brownies.
  • A touch of melted dark chocolate but mainly cocoa give the perfect balance of fudginess without the brownie being too wet.
  • The Chestnut Ganache is exceedingly light providing a lovely contrast to the fudgy brownies.

How do you make Chestnut Brownies?

  1. Melt the dark chocolate and butter together.Process shot of Chestnut Brownies
  2. Sift the sugars with the chestnut flour, cocoa powder and salt.Dry ingredients in a bowl for chestnut brownies
  3. Mix the melted chocolate with the dry ingredients.process shot - mixing chestnut brownies
  4. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.process shot - mixing chestnut brownies
  5. Pour into a lined and greased 8 inch square baking tin and bake for 30 minutes at 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4.
  6. Remove the brownie from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
  7. Remove the brownie from the tin and line the tin with cling film. Place the brownie back on top .
  8. Make the ganache by heating the cream and sugar. Stir into finely chopped chocolate to melt.
  9. Pour into the blender with vanilla and chestnut puree and blend until smooth.Making Chestnut Ganache for Chestnut Brownies
  10. Pour over the brownie then set in the freezer for 15 minutes.Process shot of pouring ganache onto Chestnut Brownies
  11. Remove from the tin, cut into squares and enjoy!

Chestnut Brownies on a wooden board

Baker’s Tips

  • The sifting of the dry ingredients cannot be skipped. You don’t want the ingredients clumping and this ensures perfect mixing.
  • If you don’t have the time or inclination then you don’t need to make the ganache as the brownies are delicious without. But it is Christmas and in the taste test my 4 year old was clamouring for the ‘icing ones.’
  • The Chestnut Puree I buy is from Merchant Gourmet which you can usually get on offer in most supermarkets at this time of year.
  • You could add chopped chestnuts into the brownie batter for even more intense chestnut flavour and added texture.
  • You can use double or heavy cream in the ganache if you can’t find whipping cream. Whipping cream is a little lighter which is why I prefer it but any cream here will do the job.
  • Using the cling film means the ganache does not set to the side of the tin and the brownie can be lifted out easily.

Chestnut Brownies on a wooden board

What Else?

  • Storage – These brownies are best kept in the fridge due to fresh cream in the ganache. Do keep uncut if you are not the serving the brownies straight away.
  • Shelf Life – The brownies can keep up to 3 days in the fridge.

Do you want more brownie recipes? Then check out:

Almond Flour Brownies
Milk Chocolate Peanut Caramel Brownies
Choc Chip Cookie Dough Brownies
Black Sesame Peanut Butter Brownies

If you make Chestnut Brownies then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Chestnut Brownies

These Chestnut Brownies are dark fudgy and  deliciously nutty. An easy festive brownie which is topped with an incredibly light whipped chestnut ganache.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Resting Time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Servings: 9 brownies
Calories: 638kcal

Ingredients

  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 150 g unsalted butter
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 150 g soft light brown sugar
  • 180 g chestnut flour
  • 60 g cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chestnut Ganache

  • 150 g dark chocolate
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 200 g whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons soft light brown sugar
  • 150 g chestnut puree
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 and line and grease an 8 inch square cake tin.
  • Melt the dark chocolate with the butter in a bain marie or a glass bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted remove from the heat.
  • In a separate bowl sift together the sugars with the chestnut flour, cocoa powder and salt.
  • Pour the melted chocolate into the bowl and mix well with the dry ingredients.
  • Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract until completely combined.
  • Pour the brownie mixture into the pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and leave the brownies to cool in the tin.
  • Once the brownies are cool, remove from the tin.
  • Line the tin with a two sheets of cling film criss- crossed along the bottom and up the sides of the tin.
  • Place the uncut brownie back into the tin on top of the cling film. Then prepare the ganache.

Chestnut Ganache

  • Chop the dark chocolate into small pieces, put into a large bowl with the salt and set aside.
  • Pour the cream and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir through to make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Rest for 1 minute so as not to scorch the chocolate.
  • Pour the cream over the chocolate pieces and salt and stir together so the chocolate melts completely into the cream and turns thick and glossy.
  • Pour the chocolate cream, the chestnut puree and the vanilla into a blender and mix until the ganache is thick and completely smooth.
  • Pour the ganache on top of the brownie base in the tin, swirling lightly with a palette knife so the ganache is evenly spread.
  • Place in the freezer for 15 minutes for the ganache to set.
  • Remove from the freezer. Lift the brownie out of the tin using the cling film. Peel the cling film away from the bottom of the brownie and cut into even pieces.

Notes

  • I always use medium eggs in my recipes
  • I have used both 70% and 54% dark chocolate for these brownies and both work well so use whichever percentage dark chocolate you have to hand.
  • Always sieve brown sugar and cocoa powder – both have a tendency to clump.
  • You can use double or heavy cream in the ganache if you can't find whipping cream. Whipping cream is a little lighter which is why I prefer it but any cream here will do the job.
  • I use Merchant Gourmet's Chestnut Puree which is usually on offer in most supermarkets at this time of the year.
  • You do need to blend the ganache so that the chestnut puree is incorporated as smoothly as possible.
  • Keep these brownies in the fridge otherwise the ganache might spoil. They keep for up to 3 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 638kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 242mg | Potassium: 444mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 45g | Vitamin A: 840IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 5mg

Braised Red Cabbage

Braised Red Cabbage is a wonderfully sweet tangy and spiced side dish for your winter gathering. It tastes wonderful alongside a roast turkey but equally well with rib of beef, game or even a nut roast. Make it ahead of time and stash in the freezer as it re-heats brilliantly.

Braised Red Cabbage sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and star anise in a white dish on a wooden board

Everyone in our family has their own ideas over the one side dish that simply must be present on the festive table. My sister advocates for brussel sprouts, Luke clamours for cheesy leeks and I stamp my foot for mashed swede with caramelised onions. However, there is one thing that we can always agree on. Braised Red Cabbage. It’s a must on Christmas Day and in fact I try to cram it into as many meals as I can during this cold season.

Braised Red Cabbage sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and star anise in a white dish on a wooden board

Why is this Braised Red Cabbage so marvellous?

  • Apples, red onions, red wine, balsamic vinegar and spices give a delightful full bodied sweet and sour flavour.
  • Cabbage is cooked until just tender, rather than being over-softened in the braise.
  • It can accompany any roasted meat, nut roast or pumpkin dish.
  • Ready in just 45 minutes and is mostly hands off cooking.
  • Easy to make ahead and freeze. It actually tastes better that way.
  • Stunning colour – makes any table more festive.

Ingredients for Braised Red Cabbage

How do you make Braised Red Cabbage?

For more detailed instructions view the recipe card at the end of this post.

  1. Melt butter in a large wide bottomed pan.
  2. Add shredded red cabbage and cook until well coated with the butter.
  3. Stir in the sliced red onions, grated apple, allspice, a whole star anise and seasoning. Process shot of making braised red cabbage in a large pan
  4. Place the lid on and cook on a gentle heat for 30 minutes.
  5. Stir in the red wine, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Process shot of making braised red cabbage in a large pan
  6. Place lid back on and cook for a final 15 minutes.
  7. Serve scattered with pomegranate seeds.

Pro Tips

  • You can substitute the balsamic vinegar for apple cider vinegar if you would like a sharper flavour.
  • Remember to remove the whole star anise before serving.
  • Braised Red Cabbage tastes amazing alongside your Glazed Christmas Ham.

Close up of Braised Red Cabbage sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and star anise in a white dish on a wooden board

Do you need to add the sugar?

The sugar balances out the sharpness of the vinegar. However, if you are avoiding refined sugar then you can substitute with honey or maple syrup. The end result won’t have the same sweetness and will take on the flavour of your substitution.

Can you make vegan Braised Red Cabbage?

Absolutely. The only ingredient you need to switch out is the initial butter. You can use vegan butter or olive oil.

Can you freeze Braised Red Cabbage?

Yes, in fact I heartily recommend it. Braised Red Cabbage tastes better if you make it ahead and it retains its rich flavour during the freeze. Just bring it out of the freezer the night before to defrost thoroughly before re-heating for 10-15 minutes in a lidded saucepan.

How long does Braised Red Cabbage keep for?

You can make it about 3 days in advance but store in the fridge. Re-heat before serving.

Braised Red Cabbage sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and star anise in a white dish on a wooden board

If you are looking for more accompaniments to your Roast/Christmas Dinner then why not try:

Sage and Chestnut Stuffing
Yorkshire Puddings
Cauliflower Cheese
Cream Baked Roast Potatoes
Cranberry Clementine Sauce
Gluten-Free Gravy

If you make Braised Red Cabbage then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own culinary creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Braised Red Cabbage

Braised Red Cabbage is a wonderfully sweet tangy and spiced side dish for your winter gathering. It tastes wonderful alongside a roast turkey but equally well with rib of beef, game or even a nut roast.
Prep Time8 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: British
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 163kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small red cabbage about 700g, shredded thinly
  • 1 red onion halved and sliced thinly
  • 2 dessert apples grated
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 whole star anise
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 100 ml red wine
  • 100 ml balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soft light brown sugar
  • 75 g pomegranate seeds

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan then add the shredded red cabbage and coat thoroughly.
  • Add the red onion, apples, ground allspice, star anise and seasoning and mix it all together. Place a lid on and cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes or until the cabbage is soft.
  • Pour in the red wine, balsamic vinegar and sugar and stir together until completely combined. Place the lid back on and continue cooking for a further 15 minutes until the liquid has reduced by a third.
  • Serve scattered with pomegranate seeds.

Notes

  • ACCOMPANIMENTS - Braised Red Cabbage is equally excellent with Rib of Beef, Roast Turkey or even a Nut Roast.
  • VEGAN – Swap the butter for olive oil.
  • BALSAMIC VINEGAR – You can swap for apple cider vinegar to give a much sharper flavour.
  • SUGAR-FREE – Swap the brown sugar for honey or maple syrup. Or just leave it out – the end result will have a mellow tang rather than a more even balance of sweet/sour.
  • FREEZING - Make a couple of weeks ahead of time and stash in the freezer. Braised Red Cabbage defrosts and re-heats particularly well.

Nutrition

Calories: 163kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 240mg | Potassium: 509mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 1652IU | Vitamin C: 85mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 2mg