Easy and Delicious Pandoro “Christmas Tree”
If you follow this blog, you know I’ve posted a recipe for a Pandoro Christmas tree dessert in the past, filled with either a chocolate mousse filling, or a lemon curd/mascarpone filling. You can view it here. They’re as easy as can be, since the cake itself – a traditional rich, buttery Italian Christmas treat – is purchased. All you have to do is slice it, drizzle it with some liqueur (or a simple syrup), make the fillings, and assemble the cake.
Making the filling is the hardest part. But this year, I’m making it really easy on myself with a filling made from whipped cream and a boxed vanilla pudding mix. That’s right, I’m taking a shortcut, and I have to confess, I think it’s my favorite of all the ones I’ve made in the past. After all the work that’s required for the Lucullan fish feast we enjoy on Christmas Eve, this easily prepared dessert is a much needed way to present a delicious showstopper without too much fuss.
And while we’re talking about Christmas Eve, I was recently contacted by a local newspaper, whose reporter interviewed me for a feature on holiday food traditions. As a former journalist, I’m used to being the one doing the interviewing, but this time the tables were turned and the reporter asked me lots of questions. He wrote a really nice article about my family, that includes my recipe for stuffed squid, and a photo of my dad and husband, that you can read here. But little did I know that my photo would be plastered on the front page – bad hair day, wrinkles and all! Where’s Photoshop when you need it?
Anyway, back to regularly scheduled programming – and the easy Pandoro Christmas tree. Slice the cake into about seven even layers. If you’re serving it right away, dust the cake first with powdered sugar. It’s easiest to sprinkle on the sugar before you layer it and add the filling, so you can roll it on its side and get better coverage. But if you’re holding it to serve it a day or two later, it won’t matter because the sugar will dissolve into the cake.
Make the simple syrup and add the liqueur. I divided the simple syrup solution and in one I added rum. In the other I added Sambuca. I alternated flavors with different layers. If you don’t want to add liqueur, you can just the simple syrup without alcohol. The cake isn’t particularly dry, but I think it really benefits from some moistening, so don’t skip this step.
Make the instant pudding mix by mixing milk with the mix (using less milk than the box calls for, since you’ll be adding whipped cream. You don’t want it so soft that it pours out of the cake layers.) Fold in the whipped cream.
Spread some of the filling on each layer, placing each layer at a different angle from the prior one, so the tips are in different orientations.
Decorate the edges with berries and slice.
You can see, it holds together very well, even after it’s sliced. Naturally, the bottom slices will be larger portions than the top, so you’ll want to split those in half (or maybe not!)
I’m getting hungry for some again. Time to make another one.
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- 1 large pandoro cake
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons sambuca or anisette
- 2 Tablespoons rum
- 1 5.1 oz. box instant vanilla pudding
- 1 cup whipping cream
- berries to decorate
- Slice the pandora cake horizontally, in six or seven layers.
- Make a simple syrup by heating the water and sugar together until the sugar dissolves.
- Let the syrup cool, then divide in two and put the sambuca in one half, and the rum in the second half.
- Make the box of instant, mixing it with only 2 cups of milk instead of the 3 cups per instructions on the box.
- Whip the 1 cup of cream until soft peaks, then fold the whipping cream into the instant pudding.
- Drizzle some of the simple syrup on each layer of the cake, following by some of the pudding/whipped cream mixture.
- Continue with the rest of the layers, pivoting each slice so that the points are arranged in a star-like fashion.
- Finish by sprinkling with powdered sugar, and decorating the tips with berries.
- Optional, find a nice star at a craft shop for the very top.