Holiday Dessert Tips From Royal Chef Darren McGrady

royal chef darren mcgradyPlease welcome Royal Chef Darren McGrady. He shares his kitchen tips and tricks with us in this special guest post series. Darren was personal chef to Queen Elizabeth II, Diana, Princess of Wales and Princes’ William and Harry for fifteen years and has cooked for five U.S. Presidents. He is now a sought-after chef, author, owner of Eating Royally fine dining catering service and culinary consultant living in Dallas, Texas.

cheesecake recipeWith such a repertoire of desserts in my cookbook (I was pastry chef to Queen Elizabeth II for 6 years), the holidays and entertaining always have me thinking about what to prepare for my own guests.

I normally prepare several desserts, sometimes more when it is for a buffet. I always like to make a traditional dish, one that has been in the family for years that the children will always ask if we are having. It’s usually a chocolate yule log. Delicious chocolate ganache poured over a light genoise sponge cake in the shape of a log. Everyone loves the luxury of chocolate over the holidays after all!

I always make a lighter dessert too, an orange sorbet or a dish with fresh fruit for guests watching the calories. A delicious deconstructed pavlova…so that guests can add as much or little cream and meringue shell to their fresh fruit as they wish.

I want guests to be relaxed over the holidays. For me that means not showing off my techniques. Save the molecular gastronomy for another time! Prepare desserts that my guests are comfortable and familiar with. Simple dishes like cheesecake. Everyone loves cheesecake and I often bake a vanilla bean cheesecake with Walkers Shortbread crust days ahead. Then when my guests arrive, I just drizzle a salted caramel sauce over it. Perfection!