Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas baking

This really was a Christmas spent in the kitchen and what fun I had. We hosted a couple of family events and so I spent a long time cooking the Christmas turkey dinner, which was a joy and a pleasure, but the real fun was the Christmas baking. The fridge was well stocked.

Of course, I made a few batches of mince pies. Some with traditional mincemeat filling and some with a port and cranberry mince that had a wonderful fruity tang. I stuck to my usual recipe and made sure there was plenty of cream to hand for those who preferred a mince pie after dinner.

I chose a couple of other recipes to bake including old favourites and some new experiments. My husband is a chocoholic and when I bake chocolate treats I do like to try and use recipes that incorporate 'healthier' ingredients. I made these itsy bitsy chocolate chip cookies from my favourite cooking blog, 101 cookbooks.

These use rolled oats, molasses, walnuts and natural cane sugar so that I don't feel too guilty about the children eating them but they are also incredibly good with morning coffee.

I have to confess that whilst the recipe purports to make enough cookie dough for twelve dozen of these little gems, I only made about 60. They are described as 'bite size' and maybe my re-sizing says a lot about what I consider a proper amuse-bouche!

The chocolate theme continued to the fridge cake. A recipe I first made about 5 years ago and that is now a firm favourite when family are in town.

This is the easiest thing to throw together although there is a fair amount of time spent chopping and crushing. Break up 150g digestive biscuits, chop 300g dried dates, 200g pecan nuts and 100g hazelnuts and mix the whole lot together with 300g condensed milk. Melt 200g plain chocolate with 100g unsalted butter and add to the biscuit, fruit and nut mix. When all the ingredients are combined, empty the lot into a greased baking tray and put it in the fridge to set. Slice into bite size pieces and this makes another great accompaniment to morning coffee (or afternoon tea!!)

And from an old favourite to something new...

Cinnamon buns are definitely a treat on mornings when cereal hasn't really done the trick at breakfast. I've enjoyed them with my Canadian family and they are a national dish in Denmark (my soon to be adopted home country). I had been thinking about looking for a recipe when 101 cookbooks dropped one in my lap last week. I was so excited that I set about making a batch of buns on the day my guests were due to arrive and managed to follow Heidi's very clear instructions about freezing so that we have enjoyed them fresh and I also have a freezer stocked with uncooked dough rolls!!!

Finally, I made a mincemeat cheesecake, courtesy of a recipe from the Christmas cooking special from Nigel Slater (OFM, December 2010). This too proved to be a success and even my toddler son enjoyed the contrasting flavours of baked cheese marbled with port and cranberry mince. Unfortunately, the busy-ness of the day didn't permit any photos but I strongly recommend this wonderful alternative to the Christmas pudding.

Well, with all this baking behind me, the new year and new beginnings beckon. Back to the challenges of the move to the Denmark and, first, finding somewhere to live...

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