So Christmas is over. Boo. I know its been over for a few days now but I think its only just sunk in that there will be no more christmas gingerbread, no more carols, no more Christmas movies. Until next year…
I thought I would cheer myself up by bringing you some of my favourite christmas things that make me excited for Christmas 2013. I know this is pretty lame, but indulge me. And apologies to those who follow me on instagram who have probably seen these pics many many times by now!
Lets start with reindeers!
Well, reindeer antlers. That jingle.
Apparently if I were a reindeer I would be Prancer. Who knew?
Delicious pressies from students.
These are chocolate crackle christmas puddings. Cute hey?
the most amazing rum balls i’ve ever tasted.
So good that I actually can’t wait for school to go back so that I can get the recipe from this student!
The David Jones Staff Choir singing Christmas carols.
This is a yearly ritual with me and my mum.
Every year they sound amazing.
These little babies that I only found out about this year.
Lindt Christmas Scorched Almonds.
I can’t believe they’re only available at Christmas.
Breaking my heart lindt… breaking my heart.
this little guy
Mr Christmas Tree
and Love Actually. Of course.
Disney Princess Christmas Crackers.
Seriously. Best move ever.
What are your favourite things about Christmas my dears? What can’t you wait til next year for?
Yes I love Christmas, yes Santa is awesome, but I wonder if there isn’t someone else who we should be talking about who doesn’t often get a lot of thanks. After all, you must know the adage that behind every great man is a greater woman. Yes, Mrs Claus, i’m looking at you.
This months theme was sweets for santa, and, while I do remember putting out cookies for santa and carrots for the reindeer, I thought that this year I might shift the focus and have a think about what Mrs Claus would enjoy at this time of year. So I made some Brown Sugar Spiced Cookies for an afternoon tea with Mrs Claus.
I think that after she has spent all year co ordinating elves and making sure that santa doesn’t gain so much weight that the reindeers won’t be able to carry him, Mrs C would like to put her feet up, enjoy a sweet brew of T2 Creme Brûlée tea and a little cinnamon sugar dusted cookie. Or two. Or three. She is a Claus after all! I also thought that she would enjoy some more feminine colours like pink and cream, and that we should put in a little ballet dancing reindeer this year. Just because.
I think Mrs C would also like my other christmas decorations
particularly this garland made by the ever-resourceful Mrs S
from plants in hew own garden!
and what do you think of my little tree?
I thought that these little cookies would be the perfect treat to eat with the tree sparkling, lights twinkling around and some good company at the table. Easy to make and deliciously scented, they will not take long and don’t require a great big list of ingredients (spices aside of course). All you have to do is mix everything together like so…
then bake and dip in cinnamon icing sugar
don’t think you can resist these babies.
So what is your favourite christmas spice my dears? I bet its represented in this recipe!
This post has been part of the
Brown Sugar Spiced Cookies: Adapted from a recipe in the Donna Hay Magazine Dec/Jan 2012
1 cup icing sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract (I use vanilla bean paste. Love the stuff!)
1. place butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in a bowl and mix until light and fluffy
2. add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated
3. add the spices (only 1 tsp cinnamon) and flour and mix until it all comes together
4. roll tablespoons of the dough into balls and place on a baking tray. Don’t worry, they shouldn’t spread too much.
5. Place in an oven at 180 degrees celsius for 8-10 mins
6. Cool on a wire rack
7. While the cookies are cooling, mix together the remaining cinnamon and icing sugar
8. When the cookies are cool, dip each cookie in the cinnamon sugar mixture until completely coated
I like to make ‘to do’ lists. I love the sense of achievement that you get when you can cross off an item. However, while I might be organised enough to make these lists, more often than not I will lose them. Counter productive you might think, but… well, yes it is mostly counter productive. Particularly when these lists resurface months later and I realise that I STILL have not completed most of the tasks written there. This blog would be exhibit A.
However, I was very good with my list making before Christmas. Don’t believe me? Well, these cookies are proof, doubters! Christmas was more hectic than usual last year so I had to be super organised to get everything done. In particular my cooking list seemed to breed overnight as I over committed myself for dinners, parties, Kris Kringle gifts, co worker gifts etc. This particular recipe from the December issue of the Donna Hay Magazine was a godsend as it was simple to make, easy to assemble and tasted fabulous. In fact, I was so taken with it that I decided to make a KK gift of cookies and hot chocolate with all the cookies coming from that issue. I will post the other two recipes shortly, but thought I would start with arguably the most tasty (or at least most calorific!)
Cookies and hot chocolate!
All you need to do is whack your butter and sugars all together in your mixer
mix in the flour and roll it all flat
cut your dough into circles and bake
until lightly golden – the recipe says 8-10 mins, I barely needed 7 mins in my oven
pipe the caramel onto your cooled biscuit
and sandwich together
Easy peasy! And you can add a little sprinkle of salt to the caramel before sandwiching for more of a salted caramel shortbread feel. I’ve made these cookies several times since Christmas and they have always gone down well. Easy to make, easy to store, the only thing you need to worry about is rolling your dough too thin, or eating them all in one sitting!
So, lovely reader, are you a procrastinator? Or have you figured out how to get stuff done? And if you’re the latter, can you please let me in on the secret? (Writing this post has been on my weekly ‘to do’ list since January. Go figure.
Caramel Shortbread Cookies – From Donna Hay Magazine
1/3 cup (55g) icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup (225g) plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
2/3 cup (200g) dulce de leche (you can also use the Nestle Top N Fill sold in supermarkets in Australia or your own caramel made from condensed milk)
1. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in a mixer and beat for 8-10 mins or until pale and creamy
2. add the flour and cornflour and mix until a smooth dough forms
3. Roll the dough out (5mm thick) between two sheets of baking paper and place in the fridge for around 30 mins
4. using a 4.5 cm round cookie cutter, cut our your cookies and transfer the dough to a a baking tray
5. bake at 180 degrees celsius for 6-7 mins and check to see if they are done. If not, continue cooking for another few minutes keeping a close eye on these babies!
6. cool cookies on a wire rack
7. Pipe caramel onto half the cookies and sandwich with the remaining ones
I hate being late. Considering my utter disorganisation in every other area of my life, this might seem like a strange dislike, but there you go. I don’t mind so much when other people are late, but I loathe arriving somewhere after an event has already begun or after everyone has already arrived. I would much rather get somewhere early and wait, calm and composed and relaxed.
But, alas, despite my best intentions for this post, I am several days late for the newest Sweet Adventures Blog Hop. Hopefully, this is a case of ‘better late than never’?
I love gingerbread and the way it makes the house smell like Christmas when it’s baking in the oven. I love the idea of making gingerbread houses, but I always forget how fiddly they are! Gingerbread houses are the sucker punch of baking. You get through making, chilling, rolling, cutting and baking the dough no worries. You enjoy it, the house smells nice, you sneak a bit of gingerbread dough while you’re at it and then you’re in a happy place. Until it comes time for assembly. Then BAM it all falls apart. Often literally.
I made my dough fine, thanks to the spiffy new Kitchenaid food processor
I chilled, rolled and baked fine
even the royal icing was working fine
but then my pink food colouring had mysteriously turned red (elves? i’m looking at you.)
and sliding walls necessitated impromptu scaffolding.
An engineer was consulted before lowering the roof on
Decorating supplies were gathered. And, not too long after, we had a
An all the reindeer gathered round.
Here’s a side view. I think the world would be a better place if everyone’s guttering were made of musk sticks and lemon sherbert. Who could be cranky and late then?
Gingerbread House Recipe – Taken from the Australian Women’s Weekly Cook
4 1/2 cups (675g) self raising flour
3 tsps ground ginger
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
185g butter, chopped
1 cup (220g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (180g) treacle (I substituted golden syrup as I had no treacle and it worked fine)
2 eggs beaten lightly
assorted lollies for decorating
1. Mix flour, spice and butter in a food processor until mix is crumbly
2. Add sugar, treacle and enough egg for the mixture to just combine
3. turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth
4. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 1 hour
5. Roll out your dough to 5mm thick and cut out according to your pattern
6. Cook in the oven at 160 degrees celsius (fan forced) for 12 minutes or until they are just firm and golden
7. You will probably have excess dough so you can churn out a few trees or g-bread men if you like
8. Pipe some royal icing onto the corners of each piece in order to attach walls and roof. You may need to use some scaffolding to hold pieces in place while the icing dries. Leave undecorated house overnight to dry before decorating.
9. Secure decorations to the house by using extra royal icing
Royal Icing Recipe
2 egg whites
3 cups icing sugar (480g)
1. Mix the egg whites lightly until foamy
2. Whisk in the icing sugar until a stiff icing is formed.