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Posts from the ‘Christmas Recipes’ Category

Fig & Hazelnut Panforte – Gluten Free

 

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas! Hope you all had a wonderful day.

I decided to make a gluten free version of panforte this year since we have a friend who is gluten intolerant visiting us and Christmas. I have substituted the flour for ground almonds which really hasn’t changed the finished product at all since there is only 100g flour to 600g of nuts and figs. You can make a whole tray and then cut it up or as I have done, make individual pieces as I like to give them as gifts to friends when we go visiting. Just be sure to wrap it up well in an air tight wrapping or greased wrapper rather than paper gift wrap so that it keeps fresh.

Ingredients

  • 300g roasted hazelnuts
  • 350g figs, roughly chopped
  • 100g flour (or ground almonds can be substituted for gluten free)
  • 1 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
  • ½ tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cardamon
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • 100g honey
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Prepare a 28cm x 18cm baking tin or 6-8 individual tart rings by lining it with greaseproof paper and also greasing the paper.
  3. Roast hazelnuts in oven till golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix flour, cocoa, almonds 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 figs 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 fig 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 wet hand, press down to spread the mixture and make a smooth, flat surface.
  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.

 

 

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Christmas Gingerbread Cupcakes

It’s the Sunday before Christmas and I have just realised that I haven’t done any Christmas baking yet, having been in Sydney for work last week the time seems to have crept up on me. I have a long list of things I planned to make; Stollen, Panforte, mince pies, nougat….arrghh, so it looks like I have my work cut out for me over the next few days and that’s not taking into consideration the savoury dishes for a dinner party on the 24th with friends, Christmas lunch on the 25th with family and picnic lunch Boxing day at the races. That’s what Christmas is about though isn’t it, time with friends and family sharing great food together so it will all be worth the effort?

So when I had a cupcake class on Sunday I thought the least I could do was decorate them with a Christmas theme and because I haven’t made gingerbread either yet I made gingerbread cupcakes instead. They are made with ginger powder and crystalised ginger in the sponge with a gingerbread crumb on top.

Christmas Gingerbread Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 125g butter
  • 125g sugar
  • 150g SR flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 50-70g crystalised ginger, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp ginger powder
  • 6 gingerbread biscuits, crumbled (optional)

Method

  1. Place 12 cup cake cases into a muffin tray, this helps hold the shape of the cup cake.
  2. Put butter & sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk or good old fashioned wooded spoon until light and fluffy.
  3. Add one egg at a time and whisk in between both additions.
  4. Sift flour into mixture and fold gently through with a metal spoon so not to loose all the air that has been beaten in.
  5. Spoon mixture into cases a little more than 2/3 full.
  6. Bake in oven for 25 minutes until golden and risen.
  7. Allow to cool slightly before removing from muffin tin.

Ingredients – cream cheese topping

  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 250g Cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp ginger powder

Method

  1. Beat all ingredients together to a smooth consistency.
  2. Fill piping bag and the fun starts!
  3. Pipe swirls onto the top of cooled cupcakes.
  4. Add a few gingerbread crumbs to decorate the top of the cupcakes. My holly and gingerbread man are made from fondant icing.

Roast Rhubarb & Strawberry Pavlova with Vanilla Bean Custard

It’s turned out to be a glorious Labour weekend, blue skies, warm temperatures and only the faintest sea breeze, the weather has put on a spectacular show for our overseas families visiting us. One family from the UK and the other from Raro who certainly appreciate not arriving to 10C like we had a few days ago. Perfect for a BBQ, the first of the season where we have been able to sit out all afternoon and not have to shelter from the wind. After a BBQ feast of homemade sausages, leg of garlic & rosemary lamb, salads and asparagus I thought a good Kiwi summer pavlova would be the perfect to end the meal. Surprisingly it is the first pavlova I have ever made, I can’t say I am a huge fan of them so as you can imagine this one was adapted to my own tastes. Instead of the original topping of whipped cream I made a vanilla bean custard to match the poached rhubarb and strawberries.

Ingredients – meringue

  • 6 free range egg whites (keep yolks for custard)
  • 300g castor sugar
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

Method – meringue

  1. Pre-heat oven to 120C and line a baking tray with grease proof paper.
  2. Place egg whites in a large bowl and whisk till fluffy
  3. Gradually add the sugar 1 tbsp at a time, whisking in between each addition until firm peaks have formed.
  4. Add vinegar and whisk again.
  5. Spoon all meringue onto the lined tray and form into a round cake shape.
  6. Bake for 1.5 hours.
  7. Once cool remove the greaseproof paper and place on a large plate.

Ingredients Custard

  • 300ml milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 6 egg yolks

Method

  • Place milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan and heat to almost scalding.
  • Heat gently until the milk almost boils, remove from the heat.
  • Whisk the yolks and sugar in a bowl until thick and pale. Gradually whisk in the warm milk.
  • Return mixture to same saucepan and stir constantly over a low heat until the custard thickens.
  • Pour into a bowl and allow to cool then chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Ingredients – topping

  • 2 chips/punnets of strawberries
  • 300g rhubarb

Method – topping

  1. Wash and cut rhubarb into 1 inch thick pieces.
  2. Place into a heavy bottom pan with sugar, there should be enough water from washing the rhubarb for cooking.
  3. Poach on a very low heat until rhubarb is tender, try not to stir the rhubarb as it will break up. Allow to cool.
  4. Hull, wash and quarter strawberries and add to the cooled rhubarb.

Assembly

  1. Serve all three elements separate and let people build their own or assemble just before serving by pouring the cream onto the pavlova, then adding the fruit. Do not assembly ahead of time as the custard will quickly disintegrate the meringue.

Fennel, Onion & Goats Cheese Tarts

These fennel tarts were part of our 4 course Christmas lunch with family, I promised I wouldn’t photograph the meal and delay the eating of everything but I did make two extra of these tarts which I was able to photograph the following day! Our menu that day was Ceviche, Fennel Tarts, Duck Breast & stuffed Duck Leg served with a cherry sauce and a Casatta dessert to finish. The Duck dish looked so pretty on the plate it took all my will power not to get my camera set up for a photo shoot but it was Christmas day and it was going to about enjoying the food with family and not recording it! I’ll just have to make it again to share with you all.

For those of you who read my previous post on the Bread Bakers Apprentice, my starter dough has been a success and my first sour dough rye bread is baking as we speak so I will post about that soon.

Ingredients –  pastry (makes 6 small tarts)

  • 110g Butter
  • 180g flour
  • 1 egg
  • salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
  2. Grease and flour tart tins.
  3. Place the flour & butter in a bowl.
  4. Work the ingredients together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  5. Add the egg and bring dough together.
  6. Rest dough in fridge for an hour before rolling out.
  7. Roll out pastry to fit bottom & sides of tins, prick bottom of pastry case.
  8. Place tart tins onto a baking sheet.

Ingredients – filling

  • 1 onion
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, roasted and ground
  • 200ml cream
  • 2 eggs
  • salt & pepper
  • Goats cheese with rind

Method

  1. Thinly slice both onion and fennel bulb and gently saute in a pan with the butter until soft. Allow to cool.
  2. Add ground fennel seeds and season with salt & pepper.
  3. Whisk eggs and cream together.
  4. Fill each tart case with the fennel & onion mix and then pour egg mix over to fill almost to the top.
  5. Bake in oven at 160 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until the tart is ‘puffed’ and golden like a quiche.
  6. Slice goats cheese and place a piece on each tart and return to the oven for 5 minutes to allow the cheese to melt slightly.
  7. Decorate with fennel fern.

Gingerbread House with the Daring Bakers

Happy Holidays Everyone!

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

There were two recipes chosen by Anna and Y  but since I was running last minute with the challenge and I had read a lot on the Bakers Challenge forums about how many people had problems with the two recipes I decided to use my own recipe which I know never fails, doesn’t shrink or go out of shape and therefore is perfect for a gingerbread house, I hope it still counts? This is my recipe here on a previous post of gingerbread hearts. I would definitely recommend this recipe for taste and reliability.

I used the royal icing to fix my house together not the sugar glue and it work perfectly and was very quick to make. The log affect on the side of the house is from chocolate finger biscuits.

You can find Anna’s recipe and gingerbread house here as well as some great detailed instructions and Y’s recipe and house here, both looking very cute indeed.

Amaretti Biscuits

I love anything with marzipan or almonds, for me it denotes Christmas whether on an English Christmas cake, in Stollen or just in bars covered in chocolate.

I have found a supply of German chocolate covered marzipan bars in New World, one of our local super markets, it’s the first time I have seen this product available and I’m not ashamed to admit I have purchased and consumed quite a few bars in the last few weeks. Each time I go to the supermarket the shelf containing them doesn’t seem to have diminished so I feel I should try and deplete their stock so they feel it is a popular product and buy it again next year ;o) All in the name of a good cause of course, someone might have to roll me into the New Year though!

Since I have the almond craving at the moment I decided to make Amaretti biscuits, I have always liked them and in the back of my mind I knew I had seen somewhere that there was a recipe for ‘chewy’ biscuits rather than the crunchy one I have bought in the past. I found this recipe from Smitten Kitten, who has such a beautiful website. I have modified my recipe since I was using ground almonds not paste and added the Amaretto liqueur to help create my own paste. It is an incredibly easy recipe.

  • 200g ground almonds
  • 2 tblsp amaretto liqueur
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 large egg whites at room temperature for at least 30 minutes

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C and place racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Line two large sheet pans with greaseproof paper.
  2. Pulse ground almonds, sugar, salt and amaretto in a food processor until blended.
  3. Add egg whites and pulse until smooth. Transfer batter to pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch tip and pipe 3/4-inch rounds (1/3 inch high) about 1-inch apart in pans.
  4. Dip a fingertip in water and gently tamp down any peaks.
  5. Bake, rotating and switching position of pans halfway through, until golden and puffed, 15 to 18 minutes.
  6. Mine didn’t puff up as much as Smitten Kittens did but maybe because I used egg left over whites which I had defrosted. Although they turned out the shape I would expect for amaretti biscuits. They were crisp on the outside and chewy in the centre.
  7. Let me know how yours turn out if you make them.

Let cookies cool almost completely in their pans. Once cool, they’re much easier to cleanly remove from the parchment. You can make them into sandwich cookies but spreading some jam (I used raspberry) between them or ganache (3 ounces of semi-sweet chips melted with 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream, then left to thicken a bit would be enough to sandwich the whole batch).

Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or two or frozen up to one month.

Gingerbread Ice Cream

With a huge batch of gingerbread biscuits in a jar, including several on the Christmas tree, I thought I would turn some into a summer dessert of gingerbread ice cream, particulalry since our pre Christmas week promises to be a warm one. You never can tell at this time of the year in New Zealand, it could be glorious and warm or it could be wet and windy, sometimes we have spent it basking in the sun, other times huddled up in doors. Never as cold as my family back in the UK experience, particularly this year with the fresh snow that promises them a white Christmas. It is 10 years since I have experienced a white December and I would give anything to build a snowman in the garden around Christmas time, I’m sure the novelty would wear thin though as the snow turn to slush under foot. If we want to experience snow we have to drive four hours to the Volcano, Mt Rhupehu, in the middle of the North Island for our winter sports.

For P Christmas is his busiest time of the year so we have never travelled back to my home for Christmas with the family, although they have been here and love the fact that we have a BBQ on Christmas Day!

Ingredients for the Gingerbread is here on previous post. I only used a quarter of the biscuit dough for the ice cream but it is well worth making the full batch of biscuits as they last a couple of weeks.

Ingredients for the ice cream

  • 200ml of cream
  • 200ml of milk
  • 100g sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 drops of vanilla extract or beans from one pod
  • 1/ tsp ground ginger

Method

  1. Place milk & cream in a pan over a  very low heat and bring to a simmer.
  2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl till combined.
  3. Whisk hot milk & cream into yolk mixture.
  4. Return to a clean saucepan over a very low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent mixture from ‘catching’ on base of pan.
  5. Cook gently until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon.
  6. Add the vanilla and ginger.
  7. Transfer to a bowl and allow the custard to chill in fridge completely before putting into ice cream maker.
  8. Put mixture into prepared ice cream maker as per instructions for that appliance.
  9. Break up the ginger biscuits to crumbs and small pieces (like cookies & cream ice cream).
  10. Once the ice cream if finished its process add the biscuits crumbs and mix by hand.
  11. Freeze until ready to serve.

Christmas Gingerbread Hearts

Even if the weather is warm outside in New Zealand I still hanker for the winter comforts I associate with Christmas in England and Germany. I would rather have big slabs of chocolate covered marzipan, gingerbread and stollen than pavlova, cream and berries which is typical for a Christmas on this side of the world. Each year I also like to make gingerbread tree decorations which look fabulous for a day or two, then I can’t resist eating them and think what a shame it would be to let them go stale on the tree. So quick, out with the camera before they are all consumed!

This recipe produces a spicy and crisp gingerbread which is perfect for decorations and gingerbread houses. It is easy and quick to make and the baking time is very short. I hope you get a chance to make and enjoy them yourself.

Ingredients

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

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
  2. Place flour and spice into a bowl.
  3. Melt butter, sugar & honey in a pan over a how heat until sugar has dissolved.
  4. 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.
  5. Allow mixture to cool for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the egg and kneed into dough.
  7. If the dough is too sticky then add some more flour.
  8. 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.
  9. Roll out on a floured surface to 1/2 cm thick and cut out with Christmas cookie cutter shapes.
  10. Make a whole at the top of each cookie dough with a skewer or straw so you can thread ribbon once cooked.
  11. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and place cookies with space around them as they will expand when cooking.
  12. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  13. Remove from tray once cooled.
  14. Decorate as desired with icing.

Chocolate Christmas Mince Pies

Who put the chocolate in the mince pies?

Anyone who knows me well will not be surprised that I have added chocolate to my mince pies this year! If I can adjust a recipe to accommodate chocolate I will and these pies turned out ten times better than I expected! It’s certainly worth making your own fruit mince for your Christmas tarts, the commercially bought tubs just don’t cut it, I find them too sugary instead of fruity but I am sure there are plenty deluxe versions if you rome the delis which are worth trying but then you will certainly pay the price. And this recipe is so easy, you just throw all the ingredients together and soak over night. The good thing about making your own is you can add whatever ingredients you like, chocolate for example.

The mince filling recipe below makes about 48 pies but the pastry will make about 24. You can store the fruit filling for several weeks and just whip up a fresh batch when you know visitors are coming.

Ingredients – fruit mince

  • 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) breakfast marmalade
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g 70% choc, chopped

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Set aside, and soak over night, stir occasionally

Ingredients –  pastry

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

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
  2. Place the flour, butter & sugar in a bowl.
  3. Work the ingredients together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the egg and bring dough together.
  5. Rest dough in fridge for an hour before rolling out.
  6. 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.
  7. Add about one heaped teaspoon per case and then cut out star shape out of the pastry for the lids.
  8. Egg wash the star shaped pastry.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Fig & Orange Panforte with Cointreau Zabaglione and a cooking class

First cooking class with Peasepudding!

How the cooking classes came to be…….

A good friend of mine who cooks really well but says she doesn’t bake well, asked if I could help her make a Christmas cake this year (my Tropical Christmas Cake from a previous post) which was a great success and from that snowballed the idea of baking sessions each Saturday until Christmas, creating festive goodies that could be used as gifts or part of the many dinners or gathering that grow around the festive season. I knew I would be baking a lot pre Christmas and I thought it would be nice to be able to enjoy the experience with a friend too. But word got around and the sessions grew from one extra person to four additional people within a few days. My kitchen is quite compact so six would be the limit and everyone was keen to make the Panforte & Zabaglione we had already decided on.

It was a great way to spend Saturday morning and everyone went away happy bearing several mini Panforte each. I didn’t get any photos this week of the class with all the excitement of actually holding a class but we have classes booked now for the next 4 weeks so I will try and get some actions shots in future.

Below is the recipe for the Zabaglione and Panforte.

Ingredients

  • 300g roasted almonds
  • 350g figs, roughly chopped
  • zest of one orange
  • 100g flour (or ground almonds can be substituted for gluten free)
  • 1 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
  • ½ tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cardamon
  • ½  tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • 100g honey
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Prepare a 28cm x 18cm baking tin by lining it with greaseproof paper and also greasing the paper.
  3. Roast almonds in oven till golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix flour, cocoa, almonds 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 figs 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 fig 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 wet hand, press down to spread the mixture and make a smooth, flat surface.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  12. Cool on a cake rack then cut into 3cm-wide pieces.
  13. Store in an airtight container. Panforte will keep for a few weeks stored this way.

I make my panforte into 7 individual round cakes by pressing the mixture into a round ring (Little fried egg rings or very large cookie cutters would work if you don’t have a professional mould). I then wrap them individually and give them as gifts.

Zabaglione – makes two

Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp castor sugar
  • 1 tblsp cointreau

Method

  1. Place the egg yolks and sugar into a metal or glass bowl and beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and foamy. Beat in the cointreau.
  2. Set the mixture over  a pan of simmering water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl and whisk constantly for about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Continue whisking until it forms a thick creamy foam that coats the back of the spoon. The eggs need to be cooked gently so the mixture stays smooth and doesn’t scramble!
  4. Serve immediately with sponge finger biscuits, panforte or biscotti.

Zabaglione may be served warm or cold. A cold one is beaten off the heat until cooled. Traditional zabaglione must be made just before serving. The warm froth can be served as a dessert by itself or as a sauce over cake, fruit, ice cream or pastry. They may also be used for sweet or savoury gratins.

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