Christmas is the most wonderful time of year to try some new bakes, test seasonal flavours in everyday recipes and try new foods. With this in mind, The Sphinx have found some yummy recipes for beginners to attempt over this holiday period. Recipes that are perfect for a sweet treat to eat, to serve as party food or to give as a present.
Christmas Gingerbread Men
I have followed this recipe for years and use it all year round. But to make it special for Christmas, use Christmas shaped cutters like stars, tree, snowmen etc. and decorate with red, white and green icing.
Ingredients: 350g/12oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling out, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 125g/4½oz butter, 175g/6oz light soft brown sugar, 1 free-range egg and 4 tbsp golden syrup.
Method: 1) Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into a bowl. Add the butter and mix until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
2) Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the bowl and mix until the ingredients clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
3) Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
4) Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.
5) Bake for 12–15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations, if using.
I remember making these with my nan one Christmas as it made the perfect gift to give to those who like the creamy taste of minty delights. Wrap in a little bag with ribbon or in a crafty Christmas box.
Ingredients: 250g icing sugar, 1 egg white, a few drops of peppermint essence and 200g dark chocolate (optional).
Method: 1) Sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl. Add a little of the egg white and a few drops of the peppermint essence and mix really well. You want the mixture to come together as a soft dough, so keep adding a little egg white until this starts to happen (you might not need to use all of it). Taste the mixture and add more peppermint essence if desired.
2) Divide the mixture into 20 small balls, then flatten them gently with your fingertips into discs. Place baking parchment on a large board or tray and space out the discs.
3) Meanwhile, tip the chocolate into a microwavable bowl and heat in 30 second intervals in the microwave until melted, stirring after each blast. Once melted, leave the chocolate to cool for 5-10 mins then carefully dip the peppermint creams in the melted chocolate until they are half coated.
4) Lay them back on the baking parchment to set for 3-4 hours or overnight.
Mary Berry’s Christmas Chutney
‘A perfect match for cheese and cold meats, and delicious in turkey sandwiches.’ Also, chutney’s are great as a present wrapped in brown paper with a ribbon.
Ingredients: 900g tomato, 3 red peppers, 1 large aubergine and 1 green pepper (total weight of about 900g/2lb), 700g onion – peeled and fairly finely chopped by hand or in a food processor, 4 fat cloves garlic crushed, 350g granulated sugar, 300ml/½pint white wine vinegar or distilled malt vinegar, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp coriander seeds crushed, 1 tbsp paprika and 2 tsp cayenne pepper.
Method: 1) Peel the tomatoes – prick them with a sharp knife, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for a few seconds then drain and cover with cold water. The skins will now come away easily.
2) Chop the tomatoes and aubergine, then seed and chop the peppers. Put in a large heavy-based pan with the onions and garlic and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid, lower the heat and gently simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally, until tender.
3) Tip the sugar, vinegar, salt, coriander, paprika and cayenne into the pan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to boil for 30 minutes or so, until the mixture achieves a chunky chutney consistency and the surplus watery liquid has evaporated. Take care towards the end of the cooking time to continue stirring so that the chutney doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
4) Ladle the chutney into sterilised or dishwasher-clean jars (Kilner jars are ideal) and top with paper jam covers. Seal the jars while still hot. Leave to mature for at least a month in a cool dark place.
Biscuity Chocolate Truffles
Tesco’s have created a recipe that is so simple and easy to make, it’ll be the perfect last minute chocolate treat to make for those ‘I’ll just pop in for a cuppa’ people, a gift for the neighbours or a Christmassy treat!
Ingredients: 20 digestive biscuits, 125g (4oz) butter, 200g (7oz) condensed milk, 2 tbsp cocoa, 125g (4oz) desiccated coconut and chocolate flavour strands (or desiccated coconut) for rolling
Method: 1) Put the digestive biscuits in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin until you have crumbs.
2) Place the butter and condensed milk in a pan over a low heat, until the butter melts. Allow to cool slightly.
Add the biscuit, cocoa powder and desiccated coconut to the melted butter mixture and stir to combine.
3) Form the mixture into truffles about the size of ping pong balls (dipping your hands into water between making each ball will help prevent the mixture sticking to your fingers).
4) Add the chocolate strands (or desiccated coconut) into a plastic bag, then gently drop the truffle balls in a few at a time and carefully roll around until they’re completely covered in the strands (or coconut).
5) Chill the truffles until ready to serve.
Featured image: https://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/christmas-biscuits.htm