Black Forest mess is the perfect Christmas dessert you can prep in advance – recipe

They may be traditional options when it comes to festive desserts, but Christmas puddings and mince pies aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. So, if you’re looking for something a little different this Christmas, whether for the day itself or for some extended celebrations, you can’t go wrong with this Black Forest mess recipe.

Combining refreshing Black Forest fruits with delicious brownie bites and meringue pieces, the recipe is bursting with flavour in every mouthful. And for an even more festive option, a sprinkle of chocolate stars and tablespoon of kirsch or brandy doesn’t go amiss…

Black Forest mess

Serves 6


  • 600ml double cream

  • 1 tbsp kirsch or brandy (optional)

  • 4 tbsp icing sugar

  • 2 x 450g packs frozen Black Forest fruits, defrosted

  • 125g chocolate brownies, crumbled into small pieces 16 mini meringues

  • 20g giant milk and white chocolate stars (optional)


In a large bowl, whip the cream with the kirsch or brandy, and 2 tablespoons of icing sugar until it just holds its shape. Spread into a 2-litre shallow serving dish and level.

In a food processor, whizz half the defrosted fruits with the remaining 2 tablespoons of icing sugar to make a purée.

Drizzle the fruit purée over the cream layer. Dot the brownie pieces and 12 of the whole meringues over the fruit layer, then scatter over the remaining defrosted whole fruit.

Crumble over the remaining meringues and decorate with the chocolate stars, if using. Serve. (You can get ahead by preparing the recipe to the end of step 2 up to one day ahead. Cover the serving dish with foil and chill. Keep the purée and whole fruit in separate covered containers.)

As another option, these Nutella and Irish cream cheesecake brownies will satisfy any sweet tooth…

Nutella and Irish cream cheesecake brownies

Makes 16


For the brownies

  • 150g butter, melted, plus extra to grease

  • 300g chocolate hazelnut spread 150g light brown soft sugar

  • 3 medium eggs

  • 50ml irish cream liqueur

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 50g cocoa powder

  • 75g plain flour

For the cheesecake swirl

  • 100g full-fat cream cheese

  • 25g caster sugar

  • 25g plain flour

  • 1 medium egg yolk

  • 50ml irish cream liqueur


Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. lightly grease and line a 201⁄2cm square tin with baking parchment. For the brownies, in a medium bowl using a handheld electric whisk, beat 250g of the chocolate hazelnut spread, the sugar, eggs, irish cream liqueur and vanilla extract until smooth.

Sift in the cocoa and flour and add the butter. beat until combined. scrape the mixture into the lined tin.

For the cheesecake swirl, in a small bowl whisk all the ingredients until smooth. dollop spoonfuls of the cheesecake swirl mixture and remaining 50g of chocolate hazelnut spread over the top, then use a skewer to marble the dollops through the brownie mixture.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top feels dry and there’s no wobble when you shake the tin. Cool in the tin, then transfer to a board and cut into 16 squares.

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. serve chilled or at room temperature.

From Good Housekeeping: The Ultimate Christmas Collection by Good Housekeeping (HarperNonFiction, £35 Hardback), out now

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