The lights have been turned on, shop windows are dressed with tinsel and baubles and mince pies are on the shelves. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! And this makes me very excited! I love Christmas, it is such a wonderful time of year. Family and friends coming together, the excitement you see in young children’s eyes, giving gifts and of course the Christmas feasting, which for me extends way beyond a week of indulgence!
I know for most the thought of Christmas shopping makes you shudder, I actually love it, but this year why not get crafty in the kitchen and make Christmas. It’s still November so you have plenty of time to practice! Home-made baking does not have to be perfect, giving a gift that you have made tastes even better and your friends and family will think you are a domestic god/goddess!
Here are three simple and delicious bakes to wrap up this Christmas.
Almond and Turkish delight clusters
Delicate clusters which are packed with almonds and backed with chocolate, topped off with a sweet rush of Turkish delight.
Makes around 20 biscuits
25g unsalted butter
62g pure cream
62g caster sugar
220g flaked almonds
30g plain flour
150g quality dark chocolate
4 pieces rosewater Turkish delight, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 160C. Line 2 baking trays with paper
Put the butter, cream and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly then stir in the almonds and flour.
Drop teaspoonfuls onto the baking trays, leaving room for spreading. Flatten slightly with wet fingertips.
Bake for approx 16min until they are golden.
Remove from oven and while still warm press the Turkish delight pieces onto the top.
Once the biscuits are cool and firm transfer to a wire rack.
Melt the chocolate and brush a thick coat onto the flat sides of the biscuits. Allow the chocolate to set.
Crunchy sesame-pistachio biscuits
Melt in your mouth biscuits with a nutty crunch and totally addictive!
Makes around 30 biscuits
40g soft brown sugar
45g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour
50g pistachio nuts, cut into slivers
60g sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Put the sugars and butter in a large bowl and cream together well. Mix in the vanilla and egg, followed by the flour. Transfer the dough into the fridge for 30 minutes to harden.
Preheat oven to 180C. Line 2 baking trays with paper.
Take little pieces of dough and roll them between your palms into small balls. Flatten gently to form little discs around 1cm thick.
Line up two plates, one with the sesame seeds the other with the pistachio slivers.
Press one side of the dough into the pistachio, then the other side into the sesame seeds.
Carefully brush of any excess and place on the baking trays allowing 5cm between them.
Bake for 10-12 min until golden brown. Transfer to wire racks and allow to cool.
Fig and nut cake
This is a fail-proof recipe from my Mum and I think it is a great alternative to the traditional Christmas cake, which I am not a huge fan of! It is packed with fruit and nuts and also cheeky chunks of chocolate!
Makes one loaf cake or two 10cm round cakes
125g roasted hazelnuts
90g slivered almonds
125g dried figs
90g dark chocolate
125g mixed peel (I have used dried apricots instead)
1/2 cup sugar
11/4 cups self-raising flour
Preheat oven to 175C
Roughly chop the hazelnuts, almonds, figs and mixed peel. Finely chop the chocolate
Place eggs and sugar in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer on medium speed until white and fluffy.
Add the nuts, fruit and chocolate to the egg mixture and stir until combined.
Add the sifted flour to mixture and fold in gently.
Place mixture into a greased tin (20cm x 10cm loaf tin or 2x 10cm round tins)
Bake in the oven for approx 50min until golden brown and skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool slightly in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Domestic Goddess, Vanessa Kimbell is inspiring and encouraging everyone to participate in her ‘Let’s Make Christmas’ initiative. I will be taking my special bakes to a bloggers gift swap on the 18th November at Fortnum & Mason.