Bûche de Nöel

Alternative Christmas desserts

by Great British Chefs 2 December 2015

The classic Christmas pudding is still a hit or miss for many families on Christmas Day. Avoid any arguments by offering an alternative to the traditional Christmas pudding.

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Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews as well as access to some of Britain’s greatest chefs. Our posts cover everything we are excited about from the latest openings and hottest food trends to brilliant new producers and exclusive chef interviews.

For many, there are two things no Christmas dinner should be without: firstly, a groaning plate of roast turkey with all the trimmings, and secondly the classic steamed Christmas pudding served with plenty of punchy brandy butter. However, the latter can be somewhat polarising – not everyone loves the rich, spicy stodginess of Christmas pudding, especially after such a heavy main course. Rather than allow the love/hate debate to divide you, embrace the different palates of everyone at the table and offer a selection of desserts this Christmas. Read on for our favourite alternative Christmas desserts to tempt everyone's tastebuds . . .

Bûche de Nöel

A classic French dessert translated literally as ‘Christmas Log’, this is a delicious chocolate roulade stuffed with whipped cream and covered with chocolate ganache to give it the log-like appearance from which it gets its name. The flavour combination of chocolate, light sponge and cream is a dream and a beautiful centrepiece for a Christmas table, especially when decorated with a dusting of icing sugar and meringue mushrooms. Try Victoria Glass' gluten-free cake recipe as the perfect festive centrepiece, or Colin McGurrann's North Pole Cake with star and snowman decorations the children will love.


While the layers of cream and custard make it just as indulgent a dessert, trifle will still feel like a lighter option if you or your guests baulk at the stodgy qualities of a traditional Christmas pudding. Commonly made with summer fruits, try updating the classic British trifle to give it a festive twist: Alyn Williams' Clementine and gingerbread trifle is full of winter spice and sweet cream, but offers a refreshing kick from the zesty flavours of the fruit.

Chocolate Christmas pudding

World-renowned chocolatier Paul A Young has come up with a fantastic solution for any sweet-toothed types who feel the traditional Christmas dinner is missing something – a Christmas pudding made with three types of chocolate! As with a fruit pudding, it is best to make this well in advance to give the flavours time to mature resulting in a dense, sophisticated chocolate dessert.

Christmas cocktail

All of the fun of a pudding, with the addition of delicious spirits! Take a liquid lunch approach to your Christmas dessert and put together a Christmas cocktail or two. The Mince pie Manhattan and Christmas pudding cocktails in particular aim to bring together the classic flavours of Christmas sweet treats in an all-too-drinkable potent liquid form.

Danish rice pudding

Rice pudding made with almonds and cream is a traditional part of the Danish Christmas dinner and is known as Risalamande. Served cold and topped with cherry sauce or fruit compote, this is a good alternative to the British Christmas pudding if you'd rather not have extra pans bubbling away for hours on the hob while you're cooking the Christmas turkey. In Denmark it is common to conceal a whole almond inside one of the puddings and award a gift to the person who finds it.


Moving across Europe to Italy and the traditional Italian sweet bread panettone, stuffed with raisins, chocolate chips and candied fruit soaked in rum. While it is deliciously festive, panettone is not one to make at home if time is against you as the dough needs to be chilled for some time. Fortunately, however, panettone is a popular Christmas gift meaning if you do end up with one (or more) you can incorporate them into some wonderful dessert recipes. Rachel Davies suggests a delicious alternative of Panettone Bread and Butter pudding, a great warming dessert for the beginning of a cold winter.

Spiced biscuits

If the idea of having any dessert after a filling Christmas dinner seems a bit too much, why not try festive biscuits? Christmas biscuits can be flavoured with a selection of spices from cardamom, ginger, cloves, treacle or cinnamon or simply made with a little pinch of vanilla. Biscuits are one for the children to help with during the Christmas holidays, especially when it comes to decorating; have a go at Graham Campbell’s easy Christmas Reindeer cookies, or Sally Abé's Christmas ginger biscuits.


No matter how full you feel it can be difficult to resist tucking in when the cheese and port is wheeled out. Indulge and experiment with cheese varieties – try an even split of those you know and those you've never even heard of – and bake your own oatcakes or crackers to have on the side. To make your cheeseboard extra special stock up on delicious spiced chutneys and dried fruit to go with it, and don't forget to lay in a bottle of good quality port.

For more delicious Christmas recipes from some of Britain's finest chefs visit our collection.