Biscuits & Cookies · Cakery · Crumbles & Puddings · Pies & Tarts · savoury

Five Bakes ‘Til Christmas!

Isn’t it every year that we wonder how Christmas came so fast?! 

For me, it’s a case of so many Christmassy baked goods to have a go at, so little time…

Fortunately I’m recovered from my Baking Goal of the Year (post coming soon) and have been trialling holiday fare aplenty, to the delight of my family and co-workers. 

Here are the results of my testing and trialling; for each of the five days til Christmas, I have a baking inspiration. 

For the First Bake of Christmas: Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
 
The latest Donna Hay magazine has this fabulous cover, incorporating her delicious choco gingerbread recipe made with many different star cutter sizes to create a gorgeous cookie Christmas tree (yes, that is also a reindeer cookie – amazing!!):


I’d never eaten chocolate gingerbread, but since I love both words separately I knew that I could learn to love them combined. Unfortunately I can’t publish her recipe because it’s not available on the net for free as far as I can see. To be honest, although it was as delicious as I expected, it had a LOT of golden syrup in it which meant I had to roll out the dough between baking paper sheets and freeze it for an hour before I could cut it out without the biscuit shapes warping. I rolled the leftover dough into balls and pressed a white choc button into them – double chocolate yum! Here are the results of my efforts:

The original recipe also suggested dipping the chocolate in salt, but I only tried that with the one little salt-sprinkled gingerbread man you see in the photo above. Apparently, it worked – but I wasn’t willing to be the guinea pig so I can’t know for sure!

Choc-dipped and on a plate for morning tea at work!

A similar recipe that I’d like to try is this one from Handle the Heat. I’m not sure how they’d go with cookie cutters, but they have fresh ginger in them and look moist and chewy! Mmmmm….

For the Second Bake of Christmas: Brie-stuffed Mini Savoury Muffins

Before I get carried away with the sweet treats that are rife during the holiday season, here’s one for the savoury fans. 

Using Allyson Gofton’s recipe as a base, I included 100g diced ham and all the fresh oregano in the garden to whip up a batch of these for a work lunch. When the batter is mostly baked, you cut a slit in the mini muffins, add a small slice of your favourite soft cheese (Brie was in our fridge at the time), and bake for a few minutes more. 


Very moreish, these mini muffins are a great dilution to the huge amounts of sugar that will no doubt be consumed during the festive celebrations! A nice Boxing Day brunch perhaps?

For the Third Bake of Christmas: Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart

To make one thing clear… ilovechocolateandsaltedcaramel! 

This is a really rich, Christmassy (or other special occasion) kind of dessert that got the approval of my family-in-law 🙂 Luckily, Donna Hay shares the recipe, one from her latest cookbook ‘The New Easy’, here on her website. No, I’m not advertising for DH – I’m just her biggest fan.

Image: Donna Hay

The salt flakes on top really add to the flavour, believe me! I found that the caramel didn’t thicken very much until I left it to go cold. It really is a good idea to eat it ALL in one sitting, otherwise the caramel will ooze out of the remainder… and with fresh berries is the BEST (thanks Robyn!).

 

For the Fourth Bake of Christmas: Caramel-Crusted Rhubarb Pudding

This is a fancy name for a crumble, but it’s kind of appropriate because this is definitely a flasher-than-average crumble! 

I’m not sure if it’s rhubarb season because my rhubarb plant doesn’t seem to have an OFF-season! It’s just been crazy all year round and lately the stalks have been thicker than I’ve ever seen them. Occasionally I thin it out, we have some friends over (thanks D & T!) and a rhubarb pudding is born. 

This recipe from Chelsea Sugar is plenty sweet for the slightly tart rhubarb and the topping bakes into a tasty, crunchy shell – yum!!! If you have access to a rhubarb plant this is a must-try. You can do as I do and coat your chopped rhubarb in caster sugar before putting it into your baking dish, if you’re worried about the tartness. Adding some ginger and cinnamon to the crumble mixture is also good!

Pudding before baking

And for the Fifth Bake of Christmas: Red Velvet Cake with Peppermint Cream Cheese Icing and Red Velvet Mousse

I haven’t had much luck with red velvet cake recipes, but once I found this gorgeous recipe for red velvet mousse (who would have thought?!), I knew I needed an equally great cake to pair with it. Those red-topped cupcakes look very Christmassy, methinks!

Image: i am baker (http://iambaker.net/red-velvet-mousse-with-raspberry-vanilla-cupcakes/)

Then I stumbled on this recipe from My Cake School. It doesn’t rely on the buttermilk method, as I call adding vinegar to milk to separate it like buttermilk. It does have a whole cup of sour cream which I thinks is what makes it denser than you expect for red velvet, but my-oh-my is it delicious. Even more so when smothered with peppermint cream cheese icing and finished with that amazing mousse…

Yes, it looks more like I’m celebrating Valentine’s Day – but I couldn’t help myself when I realised that the gorgeous icing hearts my friend D had handmade would go so well with the red mousse. 

Yes, the mousse did cry red tears onto the cake – after adding the chocolate and food colouring to the stiff cream, it lost its stiffness more than I expected. I’d add less chocolate next time (and probably less food colouring…). But at least they were delicious red tears!!

For those curious about cakery details, I used a Wilton 1M piping tip to pipe the ‘shell’ borders, by piping half the distance of each shell in one direction, then doubling over top in the opposite direction. Easy and effective!

Dense and delicious!

I suggesting omitting some sugar from the cake and mousse, as the cream cheese icing is very sweet – but the peppermint is a nice, fresh touch. 


Happy Christmas baking – I hope some of these ideas inspire you to try out something tasty and slightly unusual!

xoxo

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