Holiday dessert ideas from Chef Jamie Gwen

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Finding the perfect holiday dessert to bring to a Christmas party can be a daunting task. On Mornings On 2, Claudine Wong was joined by Chef and Smart & Final Ambassador, Jamie Gwen.

This bread pudding is super simple to make and insanely rich, perfect as a holiday dessert to feed a crowd or for a weekend brunch.

1 stick First Street unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup First Street granulated sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
5 large eggs, lightly beaten 
2 1/2 cups heavy cream 
12 croissants 
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a blender or food processor, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs and cream and pulse to combine.  

Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish.  Tear the croissants into 1-inch pieces and place in the baking dish.  Scatter the chocolate chips over the top and pour the egg mixture over the croissants.  Let the mixture soak for 10 minutes.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the oil and bake for 15 minutes more. 

Serves 6-8

This red wine poaching liquid turns the pears a deep berry color to create 
a stunning dessert that always impresses.  It’s best to make the poached pears at least a day in advance for the ultimate flavor and crimson color. 

1 cup Ruby Port 
1 cup dry red wine 
1 cup water 
1 cup First Street granulated sugar 
4 First Street whole cloves 
Four 2-inch by 1-inch strips of orange peel 
1 tablespoon First Street pure vanilla extract 
4 firm pears - peeled, halved and cored 
1 cup sour cream 
2 tablespoons First Street brown sugar
Toasted pistachios, for garnish

Combine the red wine, Port, sugar, cloves, orange peel and vanilla in a large saucepot.  Add the pear halves and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Simmer until the pears are tender, about 15 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a plate.  Increase the heat to medium-high and boil the poaching liquid until it is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes.  Remove the pan from heat and cool the sauce.   Add the pears back to the liquid and refrigerate overnight.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sour cream and brown sugar.

To serve, pour a pool of the reduced poaching liquid on the bottom of 8 dessert plates.  Place 1 pear half, cut side up, on each plate.  Fill the cavity of each pear half with two tablespoons of the brown sugar sour cream, garnish with pistachios and serve. 

Serves 8 


For coconut lovers, for the office Christmas cookie swap, for a holiday potluck…these 2-ingredient wonders are delicious dipped in or drizzled with dark chocolate.  Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, they’re amazingly simple and scrumptious!

Two 14-ounce bags First Street flaked coconut
1 (14-ounce) can First Street sweetened condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a large mixing bowl combine the coconut and sweetened condensed milk and mix well.  Using a small cookie scoop (size #60) or 2 teaspoons of the coconut mixture rolled into a ball, portion the mixture and place the balls 1-inch apart on a parchment paper-lined or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet.  

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

Let cool, then dip in melted chocolate.  Store at room temperature.

Makes about 24 Coconut Macaroons

Recipes Courtesy of Jamie Gwen for Smart & Final Stores