Holiday Beauties

Though the focus of celebratory holiday meals tends to be the large, protein-heavy, Norman Rockwell-esque roasts that are dramatically presented and carved at the table, I love the elaborate desserts we tend to wait for special occasions to justify making. Beyond that, it’s nice to have a special dessert made only at a specific time of year, building on the nostalgia that drives so many of our dining decisions at this time of year.

Here are three recipes that can be prepped ahead, and require at most a minimal last-minute assembly, but are likely to generate an enthusiastic response table-side, no matter how full everyone is from dinner.

Make this Sunken Chocolate Cake with Berry Fool recipe below and check out Julie’s other recipes in our Holiday issue: Upside-down Pear Gingerbread and Lamingtons.

Sunken Chocolate Cake with Berry Fool

Servings 8


  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks, 125 ml
  • 9 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, 250 gr
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar, 160 ml
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting, 30 ml
  • 1/4 tsp salt, 1 ml


  • 1-2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries or sour cherries, 250-500 ml
  • 1/4 cup sugar, divided, 60 ml
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, 325 ml


  • Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F). Line the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with a circle of parchment — use the bottom of the pan to trace a circle on the paper, then cut it out with scissors. Don’t grease the pan — the batter needs to be able to cling to the sides as it rises.
  • Melt the butter and chocolate over low heat in a saucepan stirring until melted and smooth.
  • Separate 4 of the eggs, putting the yolks and whites in separate bowls. Stir the remaining 2 eggs and half of the sugar into the egg yolks, along with the cocoa powder and salt. Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture.
  • Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, beating until the egg whites form soft mounds but aren’t quite stiff. Fold about a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, and then gently fold in the rest, trying not to deflate the whites. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the cake is puffy and cracked on top and if you shake the pan, the middle isn’t wobbly. Cool completely in the pan without loosening the sides — let the batter cling as it cools, so it sinks in the middle.
  • Crush the berries with 30-45 ml (2-3 Tbsp)sugar using a potato masher or a fork, and set aside for 10 minutes or so to macerate. Press the fruit through a sieve to get rid of seeds or skins and pits.) When you’re ready to serve, beat the cream with the rest of the sugar until softly stiff and fold in the berry puree, leaving it swirly. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake, remove the ring and transfer it to a serving plate. Dust with some cocoa before you pile the fool (or straight-up whipped cream) on top.