Friday, 18 December 2015

Christmas Pudding Cookies

Readers, I think this will be my last festive bake of the year… an improvement on last though, when I only managed some peppermint chocolate bark on Christmas Eve.

So far I’ve managed some gingerbread reindeers, chocolate star lollies and now, my latest creation the Christmas pudding cookie.  I can’t take full credit – as I messed around with the recipe last week, I made holiday cookies and dipped half in royal icing then covered them in sprinkles.  Mr WhatClaireBaked mentioned that they looked like Christmas puddings turned on their sides – it hadn’t even occurred to me that they could be puddings.  So I vouched to try again this week and actually make puddings.

These are finished with really simple white royal icing and a fondant holly wreath.  I used a Lakeland holly leaf cutter to make the leaf template then rolled little red berries to stick on. 

Helpful hint – when making the cookie dough, make sure to chill the finished dough for at least 40 minutes before putting the cookies into shapes and into the oven – it stops them from spreading out too thinly.

A very Merry Christmas and thanks to all my readers for continuing to read and support my blog!

Christmas Pudding Cookies
Ingredients (makes around 20 cookies)

220g unsalted butter (softened)
225g caster sugar
115g soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
315g plain flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
Topping
Whites of 2 large eggs
3 cups icing sugar
Fondant to decorate

Method

  1. Cream butter, caster sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Use an electric mixer if you have one.
  2. Beat eggs together in a separate bowl and gradually add to sugar and butter mix using electric mixer until fluffy.
  3. Add baking powder, cocoa powder and salt to the flour and sift into the eggs, sugar and butter. Fold together using a metal spoon. You should create a dough, once flour is folded in. Bring together into a ball.
  4. Transfer dough ball to a clean bowl and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 40 minutes, ideally an hour, until dough has firmed up.
  5. Whilst dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 190 degrees/ Fan 170 degrees/ Gas 4.  Cover baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  6. Remove dough from fridge and using your hands roll small balls of dough.  Place onto baking sheets, spaced well apart (no more than 4 cookies per baking sheet).
  7. Flatten each ball slightly.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the oven.
  9. Remove from oven, allow to cook on tray for a few moments to ensure cookies retain their shape. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  10. Whilst cooling, make the royal icing by adding the whites of two large eggs to icing sugar.  Using an electric mixer whisk up the icing until white, smooth and thickened.   Cover with cling film until ready to use.
  11. Make the fondant holly leaves and berries.
  12. Once cooled, spoon icing over the top half of the cookie, like a Christmas pudding.  Top with holly decoration and put in the fridge to set.
  13. Serve once icing has set, or alternatively store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.



Sunday, 13 December 2015

Peanut Butter Nutella Blondies

Readers, I love Nutella.  It probably comes a close second to my love of chocolate. Yes, I’ve been known to be a spoon in a jar type. 

Anyway, the other week, I was craving some sort of dessert with chocolate and went to pinterest for inspiration. I’d heard that blondies were the new brownies but never quite got round to trying them until the other weekend.  Ridiculously easy to make, best served warm with ice cream.

What made these even more enjoyable -  I used my Kenwood mixer for the first time. I inherited it from my Grandma, who is now living in a sheltered house and doesn’t have a need for it.  I was keen to make sure it went to a loving home and by that I don’t mean it would sit in a cupboard for years to come.

My memories of helping make Christmas cakes in it each year, are very fond from my childhood and I’m delighted to say “Maggie” – as she’ll now be known – is going strong.  I’ve also realised that a stand mixer makes the job of baking so much easier – throw everything it and let it do the hard work for you.

I’m sharing a video of Maggie in action for the first time in her new home!

Also thanks toClub31woman for the original recipe – I’ve made some adaptations to make it UK friendly.          

peanut butter nutella blondies

Peanut Butter Nutella Blondies

Ingredients

½ cup softened salted butter

½ cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup soft brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup Nutella (warmed in microwave for 30 seconds)
½ bar milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190c/170c fan/Gas 6.
  2. Cream butter, peanut butter and sugar together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla to the mix.
  4. Add the flour and baking powder and continue to mix until just combined.
  5. Add the chopped chocolate, mix into batter, then switch mixer off.
  6. Microwave Nutella for 30 seconds in a microwave proof bowl to soften.
  7. Add the mix to a prepared 8x8 silicone baking tin. Flatten out until even.
  8. Add the Nutella to the top in spoonfuls and swirl into the mixture.
  9. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the top has a light crust but it still slightly gooey in the middle.
  10. Remove from tin and allow to cool.  Cut into equal pieces or warm in a bowl in the microwave for 40 seconds and serve with vanilla ice cream for dessert.
    peanut butter nutella blondies


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Reindeer Ginger Biscuits

Readers, I’ve jumped on the pinterest bandwagon and made my own version of the reindeer ginger bread biscuits that I’ve seen all over the internet.  They are ridiculously easy to make… an upside down gingerbread man cutter don’t you know.

A few months back I reviewed choco writers and used these to ice the antlers and faces, as well as sticking the noses to the biscuits.

The recipe is fairly simple and they only took about 12 minutes in my oven.  You want a good crisp biscuit – not a chewy cookie.  The mixture made around 15 biscuits. 

I’m getting in the Christmas spirit at the moment – hoping I might manage another post or two before the man in the big red suit arrives.

reindeer ginger biscuits

Ingredients

175g plain flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
Pinch ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g salted butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
80g dark brown sugar
1 small egg
1 tablespoon golden syrup

Method

Preheat the oven to 190c/170c fan
Sift the ginger, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and flour into a bowl.  Add the butter in small chunks.
Using your hands, rub the butter into the dry ingredients to create breadcrumbs until there are no lumps.
Add the sugar and stir in the syrup.  Mix all ingredients together until you have a firm dough.  If the mix is a little too soft/wet to roll, add more flour and mix in until a firm dough is formed.

Roll out onto a floured board and cut out the shapes using a gingerbread cutter. Put the cut shapes onto a baking tray lined with parchment and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to make sure the shapes stay in place when baked.
Bake for around 10-12 minutes until dark golden.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.  

Turn the gingerbread men upside down.  What should be the legs, become the antlers and the arms become ears.  Ice on antlers and ears, a set of eyes and find red smarties (or red m&ms) to use as the nose.  Simple!
These will keep for two to three days in an airtight container.


Merry Christmas!
reindeer ginger biscuit

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Readers, I’ve just discovered that it’s ridiculously easy to make cranberry sauce at home.  It’s 29th November (this post isn’t going up straight away) and in less than half an hour from start to storing I’ve made my own sauce.

Granted, mine is a little tarter than shop bought versions.  But it tastes fresh.  The texture is lumpy from the masses of berries.  Not smooth and jelly like.  The colour is rich and glossy, almost jewel like and if nothing else, midway through the cook I can’t emphasise enough how much your kitchen will smell of all things Christmas.

Oh and the best bit. It’s freezeable.  At this time of year we haven’t swung into full on festive madness, so half an hour in the kitchen is feasible.  Also, who needs to know you prepped your homemade sauce weeks in advance?  Simple solution, make, store, freeze and defrost a couple of days before.  Store in the fridge and bring back up to room temperature an hour or so before serving.  

Easy.

Note though – if you are used to the over-sweetened jelly gloop available for 30p a jar, you might not like this…
easy homemade cranberry sauce

Easy Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients - makes 1 medium & 1 small Tupperware tub

250g fresh cranberries
1 cup preserving sugar
Juice of 2 large oranges
Zest of 1 large orange
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Method

  1. Add the cranberries, orange juice, orange zest and preserving sugar to the pan.  Bring to the boil over a high heat.  Add in the cinnamon and stir.
    Cranberries, orange and sugar in the pan
  2. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook out for around 8-10 minutes until the cranberries have burst and gone soft.  The sauce should be thickening by now.
    Bring up to the boil
  3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the pan.  Then, transfer to freezer proof tubs with airtight lids.
    Cranberries burst - fully cooked and cooling
  4. Freeze for up to 8 weeks.
  5. Before use, defrost fully overnight in the fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.
    And serve!