the best things in life are sweet


Christmas presents tend not to survive the first week of the New Year – and quickly get relegated with other seasonal skeletons to the closet. Some don’t even come out of the glittery wrapper – and are quickly, and a little nastily, recycled to a parent you don’t really like.

Then there are those gifts that you wish you never received – because they cannot be passed on, used or abused. Grandma’s Cue Knitted Christmas Sweater, an 800-page tome of Amazon rainforest entomology (you have an extreme fear of insects) and a handcrafted photo album you suspect started life as a scrapbook of marriage.

Granted, it is difficult to do good Christmas gifts. The safest – and sweetest – option is to whip up some festive treats. They’re personal, edible, and if you’re going for Christmas dinner, thoughtful crisp.

christmas cookies

You need

175 g of black muscovado sugar

85g of gold syrup

100g butter

3 teaspoons of ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

350 g plain flour

1tsp baking soda

1 egg, lightly beaten

100g white chocolate

Edible silver balls

Method

Heat the sugar, golden syrup and butter until melted. Combine the spices and flour in a large bowl. Dissolve the baking soda in a teaspoon of cold water. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the melted sugar mixture, egg and baking soda and mix well. Cover the surface of the cookie mix with cling film and let cool, then refrigerate for at least an hour.

Heat the oven to 190 ° C. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut in half. Roll out one half thinly and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Transfer to baking sheets, leaving some room to spread out. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool and harden completely.

Break the chocolate and melt. Pour the chocolate on the cookies, or make shapes or names, then stick a few silver balls in the chocolate.

Almond and marzipan stollen

You need

100g of dried fruits mixed with the skin

180 ml apple juice

7g dry yeast

250g plain flour

30g whole blanched almonds

Pinch of ground cinnamon

A pinch of ground anise or allspice

Pinch of ground cloves

75g cold marzipan, cut into small pieces

10 g of melted butter

1 tablespoon of icing sugar

Method

Soak the dried fruits in 100 ml of hot water. Gently heat the apple juice in a saucepan, then add the yeast and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

Put the flour in a bowl. Stir in the yeast and apple juice mixture to form a smooth paste, then cover and let stand in a warm place until about doubled in size.

Drain the fruits and add them to the dough along with the nuts, spices and marzipan. Crush everything, then turn the dough over on a lightly floured work surface and knead until the fruit remains in the dough. Shape the dough into a sausage shape and place it on a paper-lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean tea towel and let sit in a warm place for an hour.

Heat the oven to 180 ° C. Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven to 150 ° C and bake for another 25 minutes until golden and firm to the touch.

Take the stollen out of the oven and brush everything with melted butter. Sprinkle with icing sugar and let cool completely before slicing.

Christmas fondant

You need

450 g of golden powdered sugar

400g double cream

50g butter

1 tablespoon of glucose syrup

1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste

½ teaspoon of mixed spices

100g of mixed dried fruits and peels

1 orange, zested

Method

Line a 20 x 20 cm cake tin with parchment paper. Pour the sugar, cream, butter and glucose syrup into a large saucepan. Heat over low heat to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter, stirring occasionally. When the sugar is dissolved, put a sugar thermometer in the mixture, making sure the end is completely covered with the syrup. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the syrup to a boil, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking. When the thermometer reaches 116 ° C, remove the saucepan from the heat.

Leave the mixture to stand for five minutes, until the temperature drops to 110 ° C, then incorporate the vanilla bean paste, the spice mixture, the mixture of dried fruits and peel, the zest of orange and a good pinch of salt.

Remove the thermometer, then beat the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon, checking the temperature every minute or so until it drops to around 60 ° C. At this point the mixture will be really thick and will have lost its brilliant shine. Remove the thermometer and continue beating the mixture for a few more minutes.

Quickly pour the fudge mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Let cool overnight at room temperature. Cut into 36 bite-sized pieces.

Christmas rocky road

You need

100 g butter, cut into cubes, plus a little more for the mold

250g Christmas cookies

75g of shelled walnuts

100g of mixed dried fruits

75g Christmas candy

400 g of milk or plain chocolate, chopped

140g of gold syrup

2 tablespoons of nuggets to garnish

Method

Butter and line a 20 cm square mold. Break the cookies into pieces, cut the larger nuts in half and mix. Add the dried fruits and chopped candies.

Melt 300g of chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, then pour them over the biscuit and nut mixture and mix so that the chocolate covers everything.

Pour the mixture into the pan, then even out the top. Melt the remaining chocolate then pour a drizzle on top and sprinkle with decorations. Refrigerate overnight before cutting into squares.

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