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Posts from the ‘Christmas Recipes’ Category



We use this recipe all year round in the shop for making our gingerbread men biscuits but as it come closer to Christmas you’ll find us getting a little more creative. Making christmas trees, angels, stars and bells. It’s a nice crisp gingerbread that will last several weeks in a jar or tin, so you can make this one well ahead of Christmas. The recipe makes 16 large gingerbread men. Use your favorite Christmas cookie cutter shapes to create something more festive. Once cooled store them in an airtight container or have some fun decorating them with icing before store them away.


450g self raising flour
110g butter
1 tblsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground cardamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
200g honey
200g castor sugar
1 large egg (beaten)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Place flour and spice into a bowl.
Melt butter, sugar & honey in a pan over a how heat until sugar has dissolved.
Add the honey mixture to the flour and spices, combine and leave to cool. Dough should come away from sides of bowl and form a ball.
Allow mixture to cool for 10 minutes.
Add the egg and kneed into dough.
If the dough is too sticky then add some more flour.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest in fridge for at least 20 minutes (you can leave it over night). If you use the dough immediately it will swell more when baking and loose it’s cookie shape.
Roll out on a floured surface to 1/2 cm thick and cut out with Christmas cookie cutter shapes.
Make a whole at the top of each cookie dough with a skewer or straw so you can thread ribbon once cooked.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and place cookies with space around them as they will expand when cooking.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from tray once cooled.
Decorate as desired with icing.

Pacific Panforte – Macadamia, Mango, Coconut & White Chocolate

DSC_0006This was meant to be an Easter post, technically it still is being Easter Monday today but a little too late for any of you to make as an Easter gift which was my original intention. It would make a nice Christmas gift too so you can always stash the recipe in the memory banks for later this year. I have been selling the panforte on my market stall at Hobsonville Point on Sunday’s, it’s been quite popular, although the new addition of my vanilla custard & raspberry jam doughnuts seemed to have eclipsed everything with their popularity. I will try and share that recipe with you at some point or you can visit me at the market and pick up a few.


  • 200g roasted macadamia nuts
  • 350g dried mango, roughly chopped
  • 100g flour (or ground almonds can be substituted for gluten free)
  • 100g coconut thread or desiccated
  • ½ tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cardamon
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • 100g honey
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 150g white chocolate, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Prepare a 20cm x 20cm baking tin by lining it with greaseproof paper and also greasing the paper.
  3. Roast macadamia nuts in oven till golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix flour, coconut, nuts and spices.
  5. In a pan over a low heat, melt the honey and sugar till dissolved and gently boil for 2 minutes.
  6. Add mango to the cooked honey and sugar and gently boil for a further 2 minutes.
  7. In a microwave or over a pan of simmering water, gently melt the chocolate pieces, being careful not to overcook them.
  8. Add honey and mango mixture, melted chocolate to the nuts and and flour mixture.
  9. Stir the mixture well with a wooden spoon (working quickly, it is easier to do this while the mixture is still hot).
  10. With a wet hand, press mixture into prepared tin.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  12. Cool on a cake rack.
  13. Store in an airtight container or gift wrap. Panforte will keep for a few weeks stored this way.


Christmas Mince Pie Pops

DSC_0009 (1)

As we hurtle towards Christmas I feel like a spectator on the sideline watching everyone in a frenzy of shopping, pre Christmas gatherings, work functions etc. I would normally take part, I love Christmas with it’s trees and decorations, carols, yummy treats and families coming together. This year has been different, I don’t seem to be able to muster the enthusiasm but instead just find myself bobbing along with the flow of things. It’s been an exhausting year, endless travel with quite a stressful and busy job. Making far too many people redundant as the business down sizes only to have my own employment in the balance next year. Keeping positive, perhaps the universe is telling me it’s time for a fresh start, time to do something else? So instead of revving up I find myself slowing down, putting my feet up, taking time out for a lazy surf and chilling at the beach. The Christmas menu hasn’t even been thought of but it will happen…no worries as we say here. Hardly a Christmas treat has graced my ovens let alone my blog (except for the 47 Christmas cakes I have baked and sold but that’s part of a business). As we prepare to kiss 2012 behind and relish new beginnings in 2013 I leave you with a small treat, Christmas Mince Pie Pops.

I first saw pie pops over at Linda’s beautiful blog Call Me Cupcake, only then to find I am so behind and they are common knowledge in other countries. They even have pie pop makers, oh my goodness which rock have I been hiding under! So here is my version of pie pops, filled with a sweet Christmas fruit mince and chocolate. You can use your favourite Christmas pie filling or try mine. My shortcrust pastry has a little more butter in it than the regular half fat to flour. A tip from a French chef I worked with. It guarantees a short crust but if you have ‘hot’ hands’ I recommend you use a food processor for the crumb rather than the old fashioned way. It’ll keep the butter from melting.

So hows your year been and what are you hoping for next year?

Wishing you all a wonderful festive season where ever you are and however you celebrate and I will see you back in 2013!

This is also my submission to our monthly Sweet New Zealand challenge which is hosted this month by Lydia over at Lydia Bakes where you will find a lot more Kiwi sweet treats.

Ingredients – makes 12

300g sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe here)

200g sweet mince pie filling (recipe here)

12 pop sticks (bake proof not plastic)


Pre heat oven to 180C

Roll pastry out to 1/2 cm thick

Using a cookie cutter approx 8cm diametre, cut out 24 pastry rings. Re-roll any bits and pieces to make more circles.

In half the circles cut out a star shape (or whatever mini cutter shape you have) for the lid of the pie.

Take the other half of the circles and place a teaspoon of mincemeat in the centre.

Wet the outer ring with a little water so the base and lid will stick together.

Lay the pop stick half way across the pie and fruit and press slightly into the pastry.

Place the lid on top of the pie and press the edges together, particularly around the pop stick so it will hold when baked.

Place on a 2 non stick trays and bale for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from tray when cooled. If any pie filling oozes out onto the tray loosen pie pop from tray before it cools so it doesn’t stick.


Christmas Pudding Cake Pops

photo (1)I’ve had cake pops on my ‘to do list’ for a while and finally got the opportunity when visiting a friend down in New Plymouth the other week. She has two daughters who were keen to help make them and even more importantly eat them. It’s a fun activity to do with kids, fairly easy but a bit fiddly. For those younger than 8 years you will need to assist with the moulding of the cake balls and inserting the sticks into the cake pops gently so not to break the already moulded cake. The dipping and decorating is the easy bit and I would suggest letting them have ‘free reign’ on how they want them to look and not worry too much about the perfect looking pop for your blog!

The girls did an amazing job, we made a few Christmas pudding style pops and then the creativity started. Sprinkles, cachous and mini fondant shape Christmas tree, gingerbread men and stars where more popular as their creativity flowed.

You can use any cake as the base, bought or homemade even gluten free but I would suggest you use a heavier cake similar to Madeira. We used 70% chocolate but milk chocolate would work just as well if that is preferred. There are many images of cake pops on the internet so if you are looking for decorating ideas just Google ‘cake pops’.


Ingredients – Cake Pop

Makes approx 12

200g Madeira or Chocolate Cake

160g dark or milk chocolate (I used 70%)

50ml single cream

Ingredients – Decoration

250g dark or milk chocolate

50g white chocolate

Sprinkles, cachous or fondant flowers to decorate


Crumble the cake into fine crumbs.

Melt the cream and dark chocolate together in a microwave, using short 30 second bursts. Stir in between each heat and continue process till melted. Stir into the cake crumbs.

To form the cake balls, take enough cake mixture to a ping pong sized ball. Roll gently in your hands to create a smooth surface and place on a large plate. If it doesn’t come together in a ball you may need to add more melted chocolate.

Place cake balls in the fridge to set (approx 20 minutes).

Melt the dark chocolate from the ingredients list. Dip the end of a lolly stick into the melted chocolate and gently poke half way into the cake ball with a twisting movement.

Place them back on the plate and into the fridge to set again for a few minutes.

Dip the cake pops one at a time into the melted chocolate, letting any excess chocolate drip off.

Stand the cake pops in a mug or a piece of polystyrene making sure they don’t tough each other and allow to set. If you set them in the fridge the chocolate will go dull but depending on your weather or patience you may have no choice but to use the fridge to set the chocolate

Melt the white chocolate in a microwave with the same method as the dark chocolate.

Spoon a teaspoon of white chocolate onto the top of each cake pop, tipping the cake pop back and forth so the white chocolate runs down the sides.

Decorate with sprinkles, cachous or fondant holly or flowers.

If you ‘google’ cake pops on the internet you will find lots more ideas of how to decorate them.

Have fun!photo (2)photo (3)

Spelt & Rye Spiced Biscuits

The smell of baked mixed spice wafting through the house is what truly defines Christmas for me, it takes me back to the years I lived in Frankfurt , the shops where full of the best every Christmas confections, biscuits and cakes. If I could transport myself there for a few days over Christmas I would visit the Weihnachtsmarkt with my good friend Petra, drink Gluewein by the Christmas tree and subject her to English carols with my cat warbles. We would eat sausages & sauerkraut and fill our bags with Lebkucken and marzipan treats, well I would anyway, Petra wouldn’t need to as she can pop them in her shopping bag anytime. Viel spass meine liebe freundin und trink eins fuer mich auf dem Markt!

But it is another friend who inspired me to bake spiced cookies in November, I had been chatting to Arfi of Homemades on Twitter about baking ammonium (hirschhornsaltz) used in Swedish spiced biscuits and where to buy the ingredient which doesn’t seem to be available here. All the talk of Christmas biscuits and spices had me longing for some goodies all day so I rushed home and put these together. I have used a combination of Spelt and Rye Flour, the Rye leaves little kernels in the mouth after the biscuit is gone which I love, a bit nutty. If you don’t like that texture then stick to all Spelt flour.

If anyone knows where we can buy Ammonium Carbonate, Bakers Ammonia in NZ  please let me know.

This is also my entry to our monthly blogging event Sweet NZ which is being hosted this month by Lucy over at The Kitchenmaid. Do pop over to her blog and see what she is up to as well as our Kiwi round up of sweet treats at teh end of the month.


150g butter

100g brown sugar

200g spelt

100 rye

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 ground cardamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 Tbsp water

slivered almonds to garnish


Pre heat oven to 180C. You will need 3 baking trays.

Beat together the butter and brown with an electric mixer until creamy.

Add flour & spices to the butter mixture and mix until just combined (maybe a little crumbly).

To form the dough add the 2 tablespoons of water and knead dough together slightly

Flatten the dough and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

To roll the dough out lay the dough between two sheets of greeseproof paper and roll dough to approximately ‘cheese cracker’ thickness.

Refrigerate in sheet form for 10 minutes, it’s easier to cut chilled dough.

Cut out biscuits with your preferred cookie shape. I used mini circles which made about 45 and place the biscuit shapes onto a non stick baking tray.

Decorate with slivered almonds if you wish.

Bake biscuits for 10 minutes. The biscuits will be dark brown due to the spelt and rye flour.

Allow to cool.

The biscuits will keep for a week in an airtight container.

The Asparagus Table – La Vignarola – Italian Spring Soup, Wholemeal Asparagus Tart and Egg Asparagus Soldiers

Some of the simplest things in life are best, how often have you heard that remark?  The long awaited asparagus season is here in New Zealand and keeping it simple with asparagus certainly highlights the veg at it’s best. My favourite way to eat asparagus is just lightly steamed served with eggs ‘anyway’ and lashings of butter,  try a fun quirky way of serving the spears with your soft boiled egg using them as ‘dunking soldiers’. As I was eating the asparagus and boiled eggs my mind had already wandered onto truffle oil drizzled into the shell…watch out shopping bill, truffle oil may well be in the next basket.

The Italian spring soup La Vignarola is perfect for show casing not only asparagus but also lovely spring vegetables of podded peas and broad beans. If you can’t find them freshly podded and don’t have them sprouting away in your garden, snap frozen are pretty convenient and taste great too. A simple tart of asparagus with sour cream and mustard is easy for anyone to whip up, I made a wholemeal pastry but you can always buy pre bought if you are short on time or don’t have ‘pastry fingers’.

La Vignarola – Spring Soup


4 spring onions, sliced

2 bunches asparagus

200g frozen peas, defrosted

200g broad beans, podded (you can use frozen)

200g jar marinated artichoke hearts

3 cloves garlic

2 cups vegetable stock

Large handful each of parsley & mint, finely chopped

Zest and juice 1 small lemon

100g shaved Pecorino to serve

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper


Cut the woody ends off the asparagus spears and discard, then cut spears into three.

Place a little olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.

Add the spring onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the asparagus, podded broad beans and stock to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the peas, artichokes juice and zest of the lemon to the saucepan and season with salt & pepper.

You can add some of the artichoke marinade to the soup also if you wish, tasting as you do.

Add the parsley and mint.

Bring the soup to the boil then remove from the heat and serve immediately, you want the veg to be crisp and green.

Serve the soup with shaved pecorino and crust bread

Asparagus Tart – serves 6

Ingredients – pastry
110g butter

180g wholemeal flour
1 egg

2 Tbsp iced water

pinch of salt

Method – Pastry

Place flour, butter and salt in the bowl and whiz until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the egg and water and knead together briefly to form a dough.

Rest the pastry in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Roll pastry out to fit tart tin and press into place, trim edges off pastry.

Ingredients – Tart Filling

1 bunch spring asparagus

250g sour cream

2 large free range eggs

2 heaped tsp whole grain mustard

salt & pepper to season

ground black pepper

Method – Tart Filling

Pre-heat oven at 180C & grease & flour a 20cm loose bottom tart tin.

Remove the woody ends from the asparagus and cut spear in half.

Whisk together the sour cream, eggs and mustard and season with a little salt & pepper.

Pour mixture into the pastry base.

Lay the asparagus half spears on top of the mixture in pastry case, alternating tip and base as in picture.

Grind some black pepper over the top of asparagus.

Bake in oven on a lower shelf (to crisp pastry base) for 35-40 minutes until tart is set and golden.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing tart from mould.
Serve warm of chilled

Merry Christmas from Muriwai

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas from Muriwai. A few pictures on Christmas morning from where I live. Starting the day off with a surf is quite novel for an English lass and then enjoying a BBQ in the sun! Have a wonderful day with family and friends. Xxx


Our black sand beach and surf, the gannet colony, the pohutakawa tree ( New Zealand’s Christmas tree)


Christmas Chocolate & Fruit Mince Pies


Spot the photo from 2009, I’m pleased to look back and see my photography has improved over the years.

I can’t believe it is only a few days till Christmas, this week has flown by. It has been a busy December for me with a work trip to Aussie ( the job that pays the bills) and a busy month for my cooking school (my second job that I hope one day can pay the bills) and Christmas group bookings. With the final class for the year behind me today it’s time to get organised for our own festivities. We are hosting Christmas lunch at our house, there will be eight and I and haven’t even decided on the main course. I tend to start at dessert and work the menu back, not surprising really. Having been given crayfish and whitebait that has sorted out the entree. Heston’s Christmas pudding and vanilla Panna cotta with pomegrante and pistachio for desserts but I am still procrastinating on the main course. What about you, are you all organised?

Here is my recipe for chocolate mince pies if you haven’t yet made any.

Ingredients- fruit
2 tbs brown sugar
¼ cup brandy
1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, coarsely grated
100g raisins, coarsely chopped
100g currants
100g sultanas
zest & juice of one small orange
(1/3 cup) orange marmalade
1/2 tsp mixed spice
50g 70% choc, chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
Set aside, and soak over night, stir occasionally
Ingredients – pastry

110g Butter
180g flour
60g icing sugar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Place the flour, butter & sugar in a bowl.
Work the ingredients together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
Add the egg and bring dough together.
Rest dough in fridge for an hour before rolling out.
Roll the dough out thinly and use a cookie cutter that will fit your cupcake tins, making sure it is large enough to cup the filling.
Add about one heaped teaspoon per case and then cut out star shape out of the pastry for the lids.
Egg wash the star shaped pastry.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Strawberry Jelly with Vanilla Panna Cotta


I wanted to make a pretty pudding this weekend, something with strawberries hubby said since that’s his line of business. I’m not sure why he requested me to make something with them because between you and me, he rarely eats them even though it pays his salary. I on the other hand I cant wait for berry season and can eat them every day.

This jelly keeps them in their fresh state, they are at their best at the moment so best to eat them that way. In a few more weeks we will be preserving again but in the meantime we are eating our fill of berries.

I use Pacific Harvest agar since sit is a local NZ company and I prefer agar to animal derivative gelatins. For any other gelatin brand please use the liquid to gelatin ratio noted on the box for the correct amount.

Ingredients – makes 4
6 strawberries
1 cup red berry fruit juice (cranberry, strawberry, raspberry)
1tbsp sugar
1/2tsp agar powder, I use Pacific Harvest
1 cup single cream
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp agar powder
Seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

To make the jelly, cut the strawberries, I cubed mine to fit the ramekins I was using.
Add the to the ramekins
Combine 1/2 tsp agar, fruit juice and 1 tbsp sugar in a small saucepan. Over a medium heat bring to a simmer whilst stirring.
Pour the fruit liquid over the strawberries to half fill the ramekins.
Allow to cool.
To make the Panna Cotta, combine the 1/2 tsp agar, cream, vanilla bean seeds and 1/2 tsp sugar in a small saucepan.
Over a low heat bring the cream to a simmer, whilst stirring the liquid.
It will start to thicken slightly, remove from the heat.
The Panna Cotta needs to cool before pouring over the jelly. Agar will set as it comes to room temperature so you need to keep an eye on it. Stir every minute or so to distribute and even cooling and prevent a skin from forming.
Once the cream mixture is Luke warm pour over the jelly and place in the fridge until required.

And for a non food related photo I thought I would introduce you to my boy Diesel. I told him I wanted his pic for the blog and he just pulled tongues at me :0)


Black Forest Trifle

For those who love chocolate, a Black Forest trifle is a great alternative to the traditional with it’s chocolate custard and chocolate sponge. Trifle is quite traditional in the UK and NZ for a Christmas dessert but I wanted to jazz it up a bit for our Christmas lunch. No need to save this recipe though for next year, it’s perfect for a family Sunday lunch or if you are taking a dessert along for a pot luck dinner. Do you have pot luck dinners or bring a plate where you live? I wasn’t really familiar with it before I came to NZ but really love the concept of everyone contributing to a dinner gathering rather than the one person doing all the work. Maybe it is because here at the beach we get together most weekends with friends and it’s not such a big chore if everyone brings something along.


  • 400g chocolate sponge (or use 1/2 of my recipe for black Doris plum mousse cake)
  • 400g jar or tin of cherries
  • 3 tbsp vodka or kirsch (optional)
  • 50g 70% chocolate
  • 1/2 litre of Custard
  • 300ml whipping cream


  1. Cut the sponge into squares and place into a glass serving bowl.
  2. Strain the liquid off the cherries, reserve half and add the vodka/kirsch to the liquid.
  3. Distribute the cherries over the chocolate sponge in the bowl then drizzle the liquid over the top, ensuring all of the sponge is soaked.
  4. Melt the chocolate and warm the custard.
  5. Stir the chocolate into the custard until all combined. If it starts to set before combined just warm it up again.
  6. Pour the chocolate custard over the cherries and sponge.
  7. Once the custard is cold, whip the cream to soft peak and pour over the chocolate custard.
  8. Grate some chocolate over the top for decoration and chill in the fridge till ready to serve.
  9. Holds for 2 days.
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