The first few weeks after the holidays always have a bit of a stale aftertaste to them in my book. After the warmth and sparkly splendor of the pre-holiday season have taken their leave, leaving our surroundings seemingly bare and cold, I always get this urge to merge this “true” winter with the postcard-perfect winter imagery our Christmas Markets and related City decorations have implanted into our heads in recent weeks.
A quick, “Let’s see what needs to be restocked after the holidays?”-related glance around my kitchen revealed a small package of my favorite Belgian Spice Cookies tucked away in the compartment of my pantry usually reserved for our tea collection, which I took as a sign to bring back some Holiday sparkle with these leftovers and the decorations I didn’t feel like stowing away just yet. How’s that for fighting off the biting cold that has set up shop on our doorstep a month too late for a steaming cup of hot spiced wine~?
The Belgian Spice Cookie Cream
250g Quark, Low Fat Cream Cheese or, for the wicked: Mascarpone
200ml Low Fat Whipping Cream
2 EL Kahlua or Amarula Liqueur – I really have to be in the mood for coffee inside a dessert – instead of along with it, of course – so I usually go down the Amarula & Cocoa path, but the Kahlua & Coffee version has turned out to be a real crowd pleaser.
1 Tsp Instant Coffee or Cocoa Powder
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tsp of Orange Zest
50g Raw Blanched Almonds, lightly toasted and finely chopped
Alt: 50g Roasted and Candied Almonds – more christmasy leftovers potentially finding a good use here~
100g Belgian Spice Cookies
1 heaped Tsp Belgian Spice Cookie Blend
More Belgian Spice Cookies, Cocoa Powder, candied almonds and/or chocolatey deco goodies – whatever floats your boat works, go over the top in a Christmas kind of way~!
Opt: Mandarin Oranges or Fresh/Preserved/Dried and Re-Hydrated Dried Cherries work wonders as a fruity side~
1) Whip up the cream into stiff peaks.
2) If your almonds aren’t toasted yet, pop a wide pan onto medium heat and, while gently shaking the pan from time to time to flip them over, toast the nuts until they’re deliciously golden all around. Chop them up, spread them out on a tray and allow them to cool off completely.
3) Place the quark/mascarpone or cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and add the hooch of your choice, the spice blend, honey and orange zest.
4) Fold the mixture in on itsself until everything is well combined.
5) Grab a rubber spatula and gently fold in the cream – as usual, go slow and steady in order to keep things fluffy~
6) With the last turns of your spatula, incorporate the almonds and the cookie crumbles – minus a few for décor – as well.
7) Transfer the cream into 4 dessert bowls and go to town with the deco of your choice.
Just on a side note: a perfect alternative to serving these desserts, especially if you’re looking at a larger crowd at your dinner/banquet table, would be piping them into little chocolate cups like the ones in this picture:
They popped up in the baking/pâtisserie section of a supermarket nearby along with the ice cream-related cones, wafers and the like a couple of years ago. Back then, having just returned from one of our Madeira trips, I immediately thought of the chocolate shot glass-way of serving the islands signature black cherry liqueur Ginja and grabbed a box of them. Back at home, I remembered the simple fact that neither Hubby nor I much enjoy the strong booze & chocolate combo in general, so the cups disappeared in my pantry for a while – until I whipped this one up for the first time a couple of weeks later~ They’re also a fantastic way to store home made ice cream in a tiny freezer space, so I always keep a box of them in easy reach ever since~!