Snickerdoodles – the taste and smell of Christmas

Christmas eve is a strange day, and kids especially are over excited and bored. A bit of Christmas baking keeps them occupied. Even if you don’t have kids, it’s a nice way to get into the Christmas spirit, and your house will smell fabulous.

Snickerdoodles, the crack cocaine of cookies.

Many years ago I lived in Germany, where I was introduced to the crack cocaine of all Christmas baking, the snickerdoodle.

These are soft, chewy, buttery little cookies that are rolled in sugar and cinnamon before going to the oven. While in the oven the sugar and cinnamon melts and crisp up around the already delicious cookie.

I sincerely apologise in advance for any weight gained as a result of these cookies. I know there is a lot of butter and sugar, but it is Christmas after all ( these are delicious at any time of year though, and work really well as a base for a scoop of vanilla ice cream too)

Little balls of cookie dough are rolled in cinnamon and sugar before baking.

Please do try them though, they smell absolutely heavenly, and you can always off load the extras (as if), on friends and family. These live very happily in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Ingredients

For the cookies

370 Grams Plain flour

2 Tsp Baking powder

230 Grams Butter

1/2 Tsp Salt

300 Grams Caster Sugar

2 Eggs

For the coating

50 Grams Caster sugar

1 Tbsp Ground cinnamon

Method

  • Add the flour, salt and baking powder to a bowl
  • In a separate bowl beat the softened butter, and sugar for 2 minutes or until light and sluff
  • Add the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla, then add the flour mix gradually.
  • When all the ingredients have been thoroughly combined, chill in the fridge for an hour to allow the dough to firm up
  • After an hour take mix out of the fridge, and mix the sugar and cinnamon for the coating together in a small bowl
  • Make small balls of cookie dough about the size of a walnut. Roll in the sugar mix
Ball of cookie dough about to be rolled sugar and cinnamon.
  • Place the balls if cookie dough on baking parchment on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes in an oven preheated to 200 degrees. Make sure to give them plenty of room to spread od else they stick together
  • Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the baking sheet for another 10 minutes

Chocolate Salami

Unctuous chocolate, orange, and ginger deliciousness

I know what you’re thinking, it sounds weird, but the only the reason this is called a salami is because it looks a bit like until it’s sliced.

Chocolate salami before it’s sliced.

These are traditional in Italy and Portugal around Christmas , and are usually filled with delicious festive ingredients like fruit, nuts, cookies, and booze. I had looked at different recipes, but ended up just adding the ingredients that I like.

This is seriously rich, so a thin slice with a cup of coffee is heaven. Its also great with ice cream if you want a lighter dessert at Christmas. This will live in the fridge for up to week, but probably won’t last that long.

Ingredients

250 Grams Dark Chocolate

250 Grams Ginger nuts

100 Grams Butter

150 Grams Caster sugar

100 Grams Dates

100 Grams Nuts (I used a mixture of what I had in the cupboard)

2 Eggs

2 Tbsps Cointreau orange liqueur (optional)

Zest of 1 orange

2 Tbsps Icing Sugar (for coating the salami)

Method

  • Break the chocolate into a bowl, and melt in the microwave, or over a pot of simmering water
  • In a separate bowl with an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together until its light and fluffy
  • Add the eggs, one at a time to the butter and sugar mix. Don’t worry if this looks curdled, it will soon look OK
  • Mix in the melted chocolate to the butter mixture.
  • Crush the ginger snaps in a plastic bag, until they are in small bits, but not dust. Chop the nuts and dates roughly, and grate the zest of the orange
  • Combine all the ingredients, and mix well, ensuring everything is well coated with the chocolate mixture
  • Keep the mixture in its bowl and refrigerate for around 30 minutes until it firm’s up
Chocolate mix
  • Take the mixture out of the fridge, lay a double sheet of clung film on a counter
  • Empty the mixture onto the cling film and with your hands, mould into a sausage shape
  • Cover with the cling film and role on the counter until its smooth
Roll on the counter until cylinder is smooth
  • Chill in the fridge over night (or for at least 6 hours)
  • On a chopping board or plate sprinkle half the icing sugar. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar over the chocolate and pat until coated.
Pat with Icing Sugar until the log looks like a salami
  • I wrap mine in baking parchment and keep in the fridge, cutting myself some every time I pass the fridge

Super Simple Shortbread

Sweet, buttery and delicious.

I love shortbread, but I had horrendous flashbacks of trying make it in Home Economics class in school. It was a nightmare to roll out, stuck to the counter top, and was impossible to cut out and transfer to the tin neatly.

All this changed, when I discovered this recipe from the amazing women who run the The Edible Flower, in Ballyinahinch. This recipe is incredibly easy, doesn’t need to be rolled out, and is easy to cut into neat fingers for serving. These also make lovely little gifts if you fancy them up in a nice bag, or tin.

Who doesn’t love someone who turns up with a sweet treat.

Ingredients

315 Grams Butter

350 Grams Self raising flour

120 Grams Caster sugar (plus a little extra to dust the finished shortbread with)

120 Grams Corn flour

1/2 Tsp Salt

1 1/2 Tsps Cinnamon (optional)

If you’re a complete neat freak you can use a ruler to make sure all your shortbread is cut to the same size. As you can see, mine aren’t quite perfect.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 140 degrees
  2. Melt the butter in a pam over a low heat, or in a microwave in short bursts
  3. Weigh out all your other ingredients in a bowl and add the melted butter
  4. Mix until it is a soft dough, making sure there are no floury bits
  5. Press the dough into a 20cm x 30cm Swiss roll tin. You can smooth the top with a palette knife if you want it completely smooth, but don’t worry if you don’t
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes. Once cooked, cut into fingers, while still warm. Sprinkle lightly with a little caster sugar
  7. Makes 28 large or 56 small fingers of shortbread. This shortbread freezes really well, and also makes really nice gifts for people

Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Filling

Yummy and dangerously addictive.

Anyone one who follows this blog will probably have guessed that I usually don’t do dainty.

But trapped in the house on a rainy Saturday afternoon, I decided to rustle up something different . Macarons are cute little almond meringue cookies, and can have a variety of fillings including butter cream or jam. I have used chocolate ganache, which sounds fancy but is basically just cream and chocolate.

If you’ve seen macarons for sale they can come in a variety of rainbow colours, and can be eye wateringly expensive. This is a bit of a rip off considering that while they might be a bit fiddly they’re not especially difficult to make. They also make great gifts.

Always handy for gifts.

Ingredients

For the mcarons

210 Grams Icing sugar

95 Grams Ground almonds

3 Egg whites (at room temperature)

50 Grams Caster sugar

1/2 Tsp Vanilla paste

Food colouring (this is optional, but it does help them look nice. I would recommend using gel or powdered food colouring)

For the ganache

100 Grams Dark chocolate

150 Grams Double cream

Method

  1. Add the icing sugar and ground almonds to a food processor and whizz for a couple of minutes
  2. Sieve the sugar and almonds into a bowl, and discard any bits of almond that don’t go through the sieve
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until they form soft peaks Gradually add the caster sugar, vanilla and food colouring until you have stiff peaks (you’ve probably saw on cooking shows when the cook holds the bowl over their head and nothing moves)
  4. Start to fold in the sugar and almond mix with a spatula or large metal spoon in small batches
  5. When fully combined, transfer the batter into a piping bag
  6. On a sheet of baking paper, mark out circles about 3cm each. Put a dot of the batter on the four corners of a baking sheet and lay the baking paper on top (this will help it stay in place)
  7. Pipe a blob of the batter on the pre drawn circles until you have used up all the mix. I ended up using 2 baking trays
  8. Once you have piped all the mcarons, lift the trays a couple of inches and tap it down on the counter to get out any air bubbles. If you have any little tails of batter sticking up after piping, wet you finger and flatten them (it will stop them burning)
  9. Allow the macarons to sit out for 30 minutes, this helps them set and forms a skin
  10. Bake in an oven preheated to 150 degrees for 17 minutes, cool before filling
  11. To make the ganache, break the chocolate into small bits and put in a microwave bowl. Melt the chocolate in the microwave (blast for 30 seconds at a time, be sure not to burn)
  12. When the chocolate is melted, add the cream and stir until properly combined, allow to cool
  13. When the ganache is cool, take a palette knife and spread the filling on the underside of a macaron the sandwich with another. Continue until all the macaron halves have been sandwiched together

Easy Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Easy Apple and Cinnamon Cake

This is a great easy to make cake that will make your kitchen smell great. More importantly it tastes really good. I mean apple and cinnamon, of course it going to taste fantastic.

One of the ingredients is yoghurt, which helps keep the cake moist and light. The crunchy sugar and cinnamon topping makes it extra delicious.

Dry ingredients and apple chunks

Ingredients

1 Large eating apple (peeled, cored, and cut into 1.5 cm chunks

2 eggs

2 Tsp Baking powder

1/2 Tsp Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

200 Gram Caster sugar

210 Gram Plain flour

120ml Vegetable oil

120ml Natural yoghurt

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Tbsp Melted butter

Cake batter sprinkled with the sugar and cinnamon mix.

Method

  1. Set you oven to heat to 180 degrees, and line a 9in baking tin with grease proof paper
  2. In one bowl, add all your dry ingredients (except the cinnamon), and the chopped apple. Hold back 2 tablespoons of sugar in a separate bowl
  3. In a separate bowl add the yoghurt, oil, and eggs. Mix the ingredients, this will look like it’s split but don’t panic it’s fine
  4. Pour the cake batter into the baking tin
  5. You should still have 2 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl. Add the melted butter, and cinnamon to this and mix
  6. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mix over the top of the cake batter, and bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean from the cake

Triple Chocolate Verrine

Rich and deliciously unctuous

This is a little teaser of the dessert for this week’s Supper Club. I like to test recipes before hand and this is a chocoholics dream.

I’m a total fan girl of Eric Lanlard (Cake Boy), his recipes are amazing. I wanted to try this for a while and eventually had a free day to try it. It’s not especially difficult, but it does take a while as you have to wait for the different layers to set.

I made mine in little jam jars. This is a really rich dessert, so you can make smaller versions in shot glasses if you don’t have an especially sweet tooth.

Top with some grated chocolate for a final flourish

Makes 4-6 jam jars, more if you’re using smaller glasses

Ingredients

Dark chocolate layer

75 Grams Dark chocolate

1 Tsp Caster sugar

2 Eggs (separated)

Milk chocolate layer

75 Grams Milk chocolate

1/2 Tsp Caster sugar

2 Eggs (separated)

White chocolate layer

2 Egg yolks

2 Tbsp Caster sugar

150 Gram White chocolate

250ml Double cream

Method

  1. Melt the dark chocolate and sugar in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat
  2. Separate the eggs, and whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer until they reach the stiff peak stage
  3. Quickly stir the egg yolks into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture
  4. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until fully combined. Pour into glasses making sure there is an equal amount in each glass. Put into the fridge to set for 2 hours
  5. For the milk chocolate layer, break into small pieces and melt along the sugar in a heat proof bowl over a simmering water. Remove from the heat once melted.
  6. Separate the eggs, whisk the egg whites to the stiff peak stage.
  7. Add the egg yolks to the chocolate and mix well
  8. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Top up the glasses that already have the dark chocolate and put back in the fridge to set
  9. For the white chocolate layer, add the sugar and egg yolks to a heat proof bowl and heat over a pan of barely simmering water, whisk for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and continue whisking until the mix looks light and creamy
  10. In a separate heat proof bowl, break up the chocolate and melt over a pan of simmering water.
  11. In another bowl (yes I should have mentioned that you’ll have a lot of washing up, but it totally worth it), whip the cream with an electric whisk until it forms soft peaks
  12. Add the melted chocolate to the egg and sugar mix and combine well
  13. Fold the mix into the whipped cream, and then add to the glasses. Chill for another 3-4 hours

I would recommend not serving this pregnant women, or very young children.

Pear and Ginger Upside Down Cake

Sticky delicious caramel, soft juicy pear, and a light sponge with a gentle hum of ginger.

It’s that time of year, frosty mornings, long dark nights and cravings for comfort food.

This cake is perfect with custard as a dessert, or just enjoy a slice along with a cup of tea or coffee.

Use pears that are not too soft and mushy, so they will stay in tact during baking.

Yummy as a tea time treat.

Ingredients

For the caramel

1 Orange (juice, keep the zest for the sponge)

60 Grams Butter

330 Grams Brown sugar

For the cake

4 Pears

1 Tsp Ground ginger

3 Eggs

375 Grams Plain flour

2 1/2 Tsp Baking powder

220 Grams Sugar

250 ml Vegetable oil

125 ml Milk

Method

  1. Add the sugar, butter, and orange juice to a pan. Bring to boil, ans simmer for 2-3 minutes until caramel begins to thicken. Allow to cool slightly
  2. Add the sugar, oil, orange zest, eggs to a bowl and with an electric whisk until throughly combined
  3. Then add the flour, baking powder, and groung ginger gradually. Half way through adding the other ingredients add the milk.
  4. Whisk until the batter is thoroughly combined
  5. Peel and core the pears, cut into thick slices or quarters . Arrange in the bottom of a well greased 9 inch spring form cake tin
  6. Cover the pears with the caramel, then add the cake batter on top.
  7. Bake in an oven preheated to 220 degrees for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 180 degree and bake for a further 55 minutes, or until a skewer comes cleanly out of cake.
  8. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin