Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

A very Merry Christmas to everyone!! Hope you are all having a wonderful festive season. Below are some of the goodies I have baked this Christmas for my family and friends to enjoy.

My Christmas Cake.

Yule Log.

My delicious Christmas Pudding.

Chocolate Peanut-Butter Cups.

Chocolate Christmas Biscuits.

Glittery Christmas Tree Cookies.

Ollie my gorgeous grandson :)

Friday, 23 December 2011

Sweet Snowballs

These Sweet Snowballs are seriously delish and are the perfect edible festive gift. An alternative to truffles, these chocolatey bitesize treats contain white Maltesers, coconut, marshmallow, cranberries, cake crumbs and rich tea biscuits! I made these to give to family and friends and they were very much appreciated.

Sweet Snowballs

400g white chocolate
100g rich tea biscuits
50g white Maltesers
50g mini marshmallows
50g dried cranberries
50g cake crumbs (shop-bought Madeira Cake)
3 tbsp golden syrup
100g dessicated coconut
edible glitter

Melt the white chocolate, broken into pieces, in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Meanwhile, crush the rich tea biscuits and white maltesers in a large bowl with a rolling pin.

Add the mini marshmallows, dried cranberries and cake crumbs, then the chocolate and golden syrup. Mix well. Tip the desiccated coconut onto a plate. Drop large spoonfuls of mixture onto the plate, then roll them around, coating in coconut and shaping into balls. Place on a baking tray and chill for 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with edible glitter if you like.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Star-Topped Mince Pies

You can't beat home-made mince pies, especially mince pies made with your own home-made mincemeat! I tend to shy away from pastry but this recipe is seriously easy and I make these year after year. I made these gorgeous mince pies especially for Sunday when we had family and friends over to celebrate the festive season. As always they went down a treat and everyone loved them. This is definitely another recipe that will feature again in my house this month.

Star-Topped Mince Pies

240g/8oz plain flour
60g/2oz vegetable shortening
60g/2oz cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 orange, juice only
pinch salt
350g/12oz mincemeat
icing sugar, for dusting

You will need a miniature tart tray, each indent 4.5cm/1¾in diameter, a 5.5cm/2¼in round fluted biscuit cutter and a 4cm/1½in star-shaped pastry cutter.
Sift the flour into a shallow freezer-proof bowl, then add small mounds of vegetable shortening. Add the butter, shake to cover it, then place into the freezer to chill for 20 minutes. (This will make the pastry tender and flaky.)

Mix the orange juice and salt in a separate bowl. Cover and leave in the fridge to chill.

After the 20 minutes, empty the chilled flour and shortening mixture into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to make porridge-like crumbs. Gradually add the chilled salted orange juice, pulsing until the mixture is just coming together as a dough. Stop just before it comes together (even if some orange juice is left). If all the juice is used up before the dough has begun to come together, add some iced water.

Turn the mixture out onto a clean, floured work surface and, using your hands, knead the mixture to form a dough. Divide and shape into three equal-sized discs (you’ll need to make the mince pies in three separate batches of 12, unless you’ve got enough tart tins to make all 36 pies at once).Wrap each disc in cling film and place into the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

Remove a pastry disc from the fridge and roll out on a floured work surface thinly, but so that it will be sturdy enough to support the dense mincemeat filling. Using a fluted pastry cutter, cut out 12 circles a little wider than the moulds in the tart tins. Press the circles gently into the moulds. Place a teaspoon of mincemeat into each pastry case. Reroll any remaining dough to a similar thickness, then using a star-shaped cutter, cut out 12 stars and place each lightly onto the mincemeat filling.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden-brown. Keep an eye on them as they don’t take very long to cook.

Remove from the oven, prising out the little pies straight away and placing onto a wire rack to cool. Allow the empty tray to cool down before repeating the steps. Repeat until you have made 36 mince pies.

Dust the mince pies with icing sugar and serve.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Gold-Dust Star Cookies

Who doesn't love a bit of glitter and sparkle at Christmas? It would not be Christmas in my home without it and you can never have enough glitter! I bake these cookies every Christmas and they never fail to impress with family, friends and work colleagues alike. Apart from them being seriously yummy and moreish, they leave a lasting impression....you will find evidence in glitter form over the faces of those who have indulged, hahaha. These cookies never last long and will feature a few times over the festive season.

Gold-Dust Star Cookies

90g soft butter
100g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or vanilla extract)
200g plain flour, plus more for sprinkling
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
Edible gold dust or glitter flakes

Preheat the oven to 180oC/gas mark 4 and line a baking sheet or two with baking parchment or Bake-O-Glide.

Cream the butter and sugar together until whipped soft and pale, then beat in the egg, followed by the ginger (or vanilla), flour, baking powder and salt and continue mixing until it all comes together to make a soft dough.

Form into 2 discs, wrap each one in clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Sprinkle a suitable surface with flour, place a disc of dough on it and sprinkle a little more flour on top. Then roll out to a thickness of about 5mm.

Cut into shapes, dipping the cutter into flour as you go, and place the biscuits a little apart on the lined baking sheet/s. Keep the scraps of the first disc, to mix with the scraps of the second and roll and cut, re-roll and cut, until you’ve used up the mixture. This is wonderfully pliable dough, which makes it an unstressful joy to work with.

Bake in the oven for 18-12 minutes: this depends on their shape, how many sheets are in the oven at the same time, and whether on the upper or lower shelf, though you can swap them around after 5 minutes. When they’re ready, expect them to be tinged a pronounced pale gold around the edges; they’ll be softish still in the middle, but will harden on cooling.

Take the sheets out of the oven, remove the cookies, with a flat, preferably flexible, spatula to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Using a small (unused) paintbrush or eyeshadow brush, dip in the edible gold dust or glitter flakes, and give each cookies its gilded coating.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Little Mince Pie Cakes

These Little Mince Pie Cakes are a regular bake over the festive period. It's a great variation to the traditional mince pie and made with your home-made mincemeat will taste even better. These always go down a treat with everyone, especially my hubby!

Little Mince Pie Cakes

175g self-raising flour
100g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
175g softened butter
3 eggs
2 tbsp milk
about 140g mincemeat (I used my home-made mincemeat)
icing sugar , for dusting

Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Line 12 bun tins with paper cases. Put the flour, sugar, spice, butter, eggs and milk into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk or wooden spoon for 2-3 mins, until the mix is light and fluffy.

Put a spoonful of cake mix in each case, then a rounded tsp of mincemeat. Cover the mincemeat with a spoonful of cake mix and smooth.

Bake for 15-18 mins until golden brown and firm. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or cold.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Cranberry Jam

This Cranberry Jam is another seasonal favourite that I make every year. This has to be one of the easiest jams to make and only has 2 ingredients, cranberries and caster sugar. In our home we love this jam spread over hot buttered toast, a perfect way to start the day!

Cranberry Jam

350g/12oz cranberries
350g/12oz caster sugar

Put a film of water in the bottom of a large saucepan and add the cranberries and sugar. Stir patiently over a low heat to dissolve the sugar; this will take a little while. Turn up the heat and boil the pan rapidly until setting point is reached, about 7 minutes. (Alternatively it will have reached a jam-like consistency.)

Pour the jam into a sterilized jar (s) and seal immediately.

Makes approx 350mls.