The Christmas Baking Special

Over the last couple of years we have probably all had a little more time at home than we expected, and many people have experimented in the kitchen, discovering a love of cooking they simply didn’t have time for previously. But there is something about Christmas that inspires more home-making than any other time of the year. Whether that’s decorating a tree, making a Christmas card or baking a cake, many of us are tempted to roll up our sleeves and get a little creative.

If you like to explore the kitchen at Christmas, then I have put together some festive recipes to get your home smelling lovely and Christmassy – these are perfect treats for your Christmas houseguests, and also make wonderful, personal, gifts for loved ones.

Heather x

PS – don’t forget my own foolproof Christmas Cake recipe featured in last December’s issue here – it reliably gives that delicious deep Christmassy flavour whether you make it two months or two days before Christmas. You can also find all of last year’s Christmas recipes here (including my infamous mincemeat, the easiest sausage rolls to impress, and the super- Christmassy star-topped jammy biscuits)

Festive Cookie Dough Puds

If you are looking to make some sweet treats for your loved ones this year, then these cookie dough balls are for you. Simple to make, no fancy equipment needed, not even any baking – and they’re deliciously sweet. When I was a caterer, these were one of my Signature sweet ‘bakes’ and I loved adding a little fondant holly sprig at Christmas time.

image Heather Brown

Ingredients

90g butter

75g caster sugar

75g soft brown sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

100g plain flour

100g chocolate chips

200g dark chocolate

50g white chocolate

A little green and red fondant

Method

Mix together the butter, both sugars and vanilla extract really well, until the mixture is no longer grainy, usually about 2-3 minutes.

Carefully mix in the flour and the chocolate chips (the mixture should be fairly stiff once all combined).

Using your hands, roll the mixture into balls – just smaller than a ping pong ball size). Place them onto a lined tray or a plate and place in the fridge for about an hour to harden.

Melt the dark chocolate (either in the microwave or in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water).

Using your hands, coat the dough balls in the melted dark chocolate. I found that

the easiest way is to get lots of the melted chocolate on both hands and then pick up the dough balls and simply roll. It’s definitely messier this way, but you can use gloves if you wish!

Leave the chocolate to set.

Melt the white chocolate and then drizzle it onto the top of the chocolate so that it looks like a Christmas pudding topping.

Then roll out the green fondant and using tiny cutters, or a sharp knife and a steady hand, cut into holly leaves. Attach these to the dough balls with a little water.

Next roll tiny balls from the red fondant and attach, also using a little water. I find that the pre-made little packets of coloured fondant (from most supermarkets) work well here as you don’t need much.

image Heather Brown

NB – This recipe doesn’t contain raw eggs so is fine to eat raw. Some have an issue eating uncooked flour – if so, simply heat the flour in the oven (loose on a tray) to 73o and then let it cool completely before using. I have never bothered though, and I have made (literally) thousands of them!

Traditional Gingerbread Biscuits

“The fiery little gingerbread biscuits are full of flavour and perfect with a mulled wine or cider (and they smell heavenly in the oven when baking.

They are perfect to make with children and can be a fun activity to decorate together. You can also add a hole at the top of each biscuit so that when cooked, you can tie a ribbon on and hang from the Christmas tree.”

image Heather Brown

Ingredients

  • 100g salted butter
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp treacle
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 225g plain flour
  • 50g icing sugar
image Heather Brown

Method

  • Grease and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
  • Melt together gently in a saucepan the butter, golden syrup, treacle and sugar. Once melted, remove from the heat.
  • Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and the spices
  • Gently add the flour mixture to the buttery mixture and mix well until you form a soft dough.
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 160o fan/gas 4.
  • On a floured surface, gently roll out the dough. It will be quite soft, so make sure the rolling pin and the surface are well floured to avoid sticking/tearing.
  • Using cutters, cut your shapes – stars look beautiful, but any seasonal shape, or even simple hearts work well. Place the biscuits onto the baking tray.
  • Reform the dough and repeat as needed.
  • Bake the biscuits in the oven for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of your shapes) until the centre of the biscuits feel slightly firm when pressed lightly with a finger tip.
  • Leave them on the tray to cool slightly before trying to move as they will be softer, straight from the oven.
  • I like to add a little water to the icing sugar in a little bowl and then drizzle the biscuits with icing sugar but you can of course be as creative as you like with the decorations.

White chocolate, cranberry and Oreo rocky roads

“This recipe is very forgiving – the ingredients can be switched without altering the finished bake. You can change the dried fruit for nuts (or just add some nuts in extra if you want both), add more marshmallows if you prefer the rocky road to be softer, even change the biscuits to your favourite type – try some fun party rings maybe!”

image Heather Brown

Ingredients

  • 500g white chocolate
  • 200g dried fruit (I use dried cranberries)
  • 2 packets of Oreos
  • 100g mini marshmallows.

    Method
    • Simply line an 8′′ square baking tin with baking parchment.
    • Melt the white chocolate (either very gently in a bowl in the microwave or in a pan over a low stove heat).
    • Take off the heat and stir in the dried fruit and marshmallows.
    • Gently break up 1 packet of the biscuits into rough quarters and stir into the mixture.
    • Tip the mixture into the baking pan and spread evenly.
    • Break up the other packet of biscuits and sprinkle over the top of the pan. Gently push into the mixture.
    • Place the pan into the fridge to set for at least 1 hour.
    • Once it has set, cut up into pieces and enjoy!

by Heather Brown

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