Saturday, 21 December 2013

Christmas Cookies!

Over recent years Christmas wouldn't quite be Christmas without stocking up on all things sugar and beavering away in the kitchen for days, baking trays and paper with freshly baked treats scattered all over the house leaving everything covered in a light dusting of icing sugar. 

This year I decided to get my hands on a collection of Christmas cookie recipes and share 4 favourites with you. All these recipes are great as last minute gifts or just as treats to keep you in the spirit around the house! 

Stained-Glass Sugar Cookies, Chocolate Pinwheel, Zimtsterne and Gingerbread.

1. Stained Glass Sugar Cookies

This is a lovely recipe from Martha Stewart.  Beautiful decorations, homemade gifts or little surprises for when your friends come to visit! 

In a bowl sift together 3 cups of plain flour, 3/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt. 

In a separate bowl or your standing mixer, beat together 1 1/4 cups of caster sugar and a cup of butter (250g) until light and fluffy. One at a time add in 4 large egg yolks and a table spoon of vanilla extract. 
With the mixer on low, slowly add your dry ingredients and mix until combined. 

Divide dough in 2, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30mins. 

Preheat your oven to 180 degrease c.

Take out one disk of dough and roll between floured baking paper until roughly 5mm thick, refrigerate until firm, roughly 30 mins. 

You can use what ever cutters you like but you will need two complimentary sizes for each cookie. Cut out your larger shapes and then using a much smaller cutter create your window in the centre of each cookie.

Bake for about 8 mins, until cookies are pale but mostly set. 
Fill in the 'windows' with crushed up boiled lollies before returning to the oven for 3mins or until the lollies have melted. 

Let cool completely on sheets before moving them and serve! 

3 cups plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup/250g unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup caster sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Crushed up boiled lollies in different colours 
(I used crushed lolly pops in different colours.) 

2. Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies

The first time I came across these cookies was in 2007 when I spent Christmas in Germany with my friend Ursula. This was one of the delicious recipes we made for the traditional Christmas cookie collection.

Quickly zap 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of milk in the microwave before mixing in 6 tablespoons of cocoa. Set aside. 

In a separate bowl sift together 3 cups of plain flour and 1 tablespoon baking powder.

Using your stand mixer beat 250g of room temperature butter until fluffy. Slowly add 1 cup of caster sugar before incorporating 2 egg yolks, a couple of teaspoons of vanilla and 2 teaspoons of milk. 

Add in your dry ingredients and mix on low until the dough has come together. 
Remove roughly 3/4 of the dough and set aside. 

To the remaining mix add your chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Create a ball with each flavoured dough and cut in half. 

Roll out one of your vanilla pieces into a rectangle roughly 5mm think. Do the same with one piece of chocolate and place the chocolate piece on top of the vanilla. Lightly roll you rolling pin on top of the stacked dough to help stick. 

Tightly roll the dough into a log, wrap in plastic and refrigerate till firm. 

Repeat this with the other 2 pieces of dough so you end up with 2 logs. 

Once firm remove dough from the fridge and cut into pieces. 

Lay on a lined baking tray and bake for 15- 20 mins. Please note that these cookies do expand a lot so ensure you have left sufficient room around each piece. 

Chocolate swirl
6 Tbsp cocoa
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp milk

Cookie Dough
3 cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
250g butter
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 egg yolks
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp milk

 3. Zimtsterne

This delicious cinnamon star recipe also comes from Germany. One of the best things about it is that it is gluten free as it uses almond meal instead of flour. The almond with a healthy dash of cinnamon and lemon is christmas in a cookie!

In your stand mixer beat 3 egg whites using the whisk, once foamy slowly add in 250g of icing sugar and continue whisking until the meringue is very shiny but not quite at stiff peak.
Remove about 50g of the meringue, cover and leave in the fridge for later.

To the remaining egg whites fold in 360g of almond meal, 2 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, the zest of 2 small lemons and a pinch of salt. Fold through until just combined.

Tip the contents onto a sheet of baking paper dusted with icing sugar, dust the meringue and top with another sheet of baking paper before rolling the dough till about 1cm thick and place in the refrigerator for up to an hour. This makes the cutting process easier.

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees celsius.

Remove the top sheet of baking paper and dust again with icing sugar. Cut out star and place them evenly on a lined baking tray. To keep the cutter from sticking dip into your icing sugar each time.

Spread the remaining meringue evenly over each cookie, careful to not let it drip down the sides. Bake for 10-12 mins careful not to let the meringue brown. Let cool on a baking rack and serve!

3 egg whites
250g icing sugar
360g almond meal
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Zest of 2 small lemons
pinch of salt

4. Gingerbread

Who can have Christmas without gingerbread in the house?

Place 130g of unsalted butter, 4 tablespoons of glucose or corn syrup, and 110g of light brown sugar in a small saucepan on low heat until melted, then stir in a teaspoon of vanilla and remove from heat. 

In a separate bowl place 330g of plain flour, 1 teaspoon of bicarb soda,  2 teaspoons of ground ginger, 1teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. 

Combine your wet and dry ingredients together either with a spoon or your stand mixer. In a small bowl beat an egg and slowly incorporate until your dough comes together. 

Create a ball with your dough, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1hr. 

Pre heat your oven to 180degrees C.

Roll out your dough till 5mm thick and cut out your desired shapes. Place cookies onto a lined baking tray and bake for 10mins or until golden. 

Cool on a wire rack and dust. My dusting included 3tablespoons of icing sugar, 2 teaspoons of ground ginger, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. 

130g unsalted butter
4tablespoons corn/glucose syrup
110g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
330g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Icing sugar and extra spices for dusting. 

Today I am off to join my sister for our traditional gift baking session! I think marshmallows and candy canes are on the menu :)

What are your favourite Christmas recipes?

Monday, 16 December 2013

Summer Refreshments & Giveaway

I can't believe that the ballet is now over! Yesterday was our last performance of Peter Pan for the season. In many ways it is lovely that it has come to a close as relaxation may now be possible and I have a little bit of time to get my head around the fact that next week is Christmas, but I will miss it! It has been a fabulous season with truly wonderful people, and it will be extremely strange, as it always is, to go back to life without the routine of seeing our little pit family every day. 

By the way - how is it Christmas next week?? 

To help myself get into the spirit of Christmas, and  get through the terrible heat we have been having in Perth I decided to make myself a huge jug of this delicious Watermelon, Lime and Soda refreshment, and team up with the delightful Allie from Call Me Sassafras as well as some other lovely ladies to offer you a chance to win a $50 Etsy gift card! 

A huge shout out to Jen from Near and Far Montana, Codi from The Art of Balance and Z from Sometimes Z Takes Pictures, for making this all possible. I highly recommend taking the time to stop by and check out their blogs. 

All details are below :) In the mean time, curious of how to make this simply scrumptious summer refreshment?

All you will need is a watermelon, 4 limes, a handful of mint and some soda water. 

First things first,  juice your watermelon and limes together however you can. Like many we don't actually have a juicer, so if need be, take a leaf out of our book and dig through your utensil draw to find implements that may help you out.
Thinly chop up a couple of mint leaves and mix in with the watermelon and lime. 
Fill a jug half way up with your juice mix and top up with soda water. 
Add a few thin slices of lime, a couple of sprigs of mint and some ice - you now have the perfect refreshment to drink away those hot summer evenings.  

I always think it is lovely to be able to offer a tasty non alcoholic drink at parties, and this is a really great option. However, if you do feel inclined, why not include a splash of your favourite gin? 

All measurements can vary to taste. 

Enjoy and good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway