Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Just a quick post after the craziness of today to wish you all a MERRY CHRISTMAS with 5 minutes left to go!!! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas day, however you spent it. 

One More Day! Christmas Round Up

One last quick post before I go to sleep to wait for Santa, this years Christmas round up. I didn't quite reach my target of 25 days of Christmas posts, but I came pretty darn close making it to 20. Next year I'll get to 25!

1st. Brown Sugar Cinnamon Advent Cookies
2nd. Christmas Tree
3rd. Last Years Christmas Favourites
4th. Baileys Ice Cream
5th. Pina Coladas
6th. Gift Ideas
7th. White Choc Cranberry Cookies
8th. Eggnog Cookie Shakes
9th. Cheese and Sesame Crackers
10th. Cream Cheese Christmas Tree
11th. Gingerbread Houses
12th. Coconut Whit Chocolate Christmas Tree Toppers
13th. Eggnog Cake
14th. Parcel Prezzies
15th. Slice and Bake Cookies
16th. Candy Cane Ice Cream Pops
17th. 'For Santa' Cookies
18th. White Chocolate Rocky Road Bites
19th. Mint Slice Cheesecakes
20th. Christmas Beer 'Krampus Ale'

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Beer/ Krampus Ale

I spend the day cleaning and doing the garden getting things pretty for Christmas so I don't have any new bake treats  for you, but I can share one other thing from my kitchen. Christmas beer!

The beer we made is acutely a summer beer, to combat the holiday heat here in Australia, but I cant wait to try some others like eggnog beer in the cooler months. To add a festive touch to our beer, we gave it the name Krampus Ale and made up some fun labels to decorate the bottles ready for gifting.
I got boyfriend a small batch brewing kit for his birthday last year and we have been having fun with it since. The book we've been following to make beer is Brooklyn Brew Shop's beer making book, Its been fantastic so far with easy to use recipes organized by season, each batch is small enough (1 gallon) to make in your own kitchen with standard kitchen tools. The book and a mini beer brewing kit would make a fantastic Christmas gift for the beer lover in your family, if only it wasn't super dooper last minute.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Mint Slice Cheesecake

Today was my last day of work before a little break over Christmas and New Years, I'm very much looking forward to relaxing for a short while. In what's become a bit of a tradition for me I made goodies to gift to the people I work with, this year they each got a Mint Slice Cheesecake. I made the cheesecakes directly into containers instead of pans, which might seem a bit odd, but was easy, safe way to transport them.
I made 4 smallish/regular sized cheesecakes and 8 mini cupcake sized cheesecakes using a double batch of the mixture in the recipe below. In the instructions I've included directions to make either one full pie sized cheesecake or a bunch of mini ones from a single batch of filling mixture.
The cheesecakes a festive variation on the cookies and cream idea, with a mild minty flavour added to by the mint slice pieces mixed through the filling. I especially enjoyed the single serve cupcake cheesecakes with  the whole mint cookie base. 

Sadly shortly after taking pictures of the mini ones, I dropped them while trying to fit the container in the fridge. So now I have a box of squished messy cheesecakes, I guess I can't be too sad, at least now I have a great excuse not to share them.
Mint Slice Cheesecake

Chocolate Base
250 grams plain chocolate biscuits (cookies)
120 grams butter (melted)
12 mint slice biscuits

Cheesecake Filling
2 teaspoons gelatine
2 tablespoons water
375 grams cream cheese (softened)
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 cup caster sugar
300 mls thick cream
180 grams white chocolate (melted)
200 grams mint slice biscuits (roughly 1 1/2 packets)

Whipped Cream, chocolate, crushed candy canes and sprinkles to decorate.

To make the base- If you are making mini cupcake sized cheesecakes- simply place one mint slice biscuit into the base of a cupcake paper lined pan.

Alternately for a pie sized cheesecake-  In a food processor, process biscuits until fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and malt and process until combined.

Press the mixture evenly over the base of a pie dish, use the flat bottom of a glass to press evenly.

To make the filling- Roughly chop 200 grams of the mint slice biscuits, a mixture of small and large pieces works well.

In a small heatproof bowl sprinkle the gelatine over the water. Stand the bowl of gelatine mixture over a saucepan of boiling water and stir until the gelatine has melted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, vanilla and sugar until smooth.

Beat in the cream until combined, followed by the white chocolate and gelatine mixture.
Stir through the chopped mint slice biscuits.

Spoon the filling over the prepared base and smooth over the top, refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or overnight) until set.

Decorate as you like. I piped whipped cream around the edge of the cheesecake and topped it with drizzle of dark chocolate and a bunch of sprinkles or candy cane.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

White Chocolate Rocky Road Bites

Rocky Road is one of my favourite treats at Christmas time, I've posted quite a number of recipes over the last few years. This years recipe is a bit of a variation on my favourite white rocky road recipe made in bite size form. The mini rocky road bites make a cute gift all packaged up, or a tempting treat each time you pass the fridge.
White Chocolate Strawberry Rocky Road
250 grams pink and white marshmallows
190 grams strawberries and cream lollies
160 grams shortbread
360 grams white chocolate
1/4 cup shredded coconut

To make the Rocky Road- line a mini cupcake pan with papers. Chop the both the strawberry and cream lollies and marshmallows in half. Break or chop the shortbread into small pieces.
Break up the white chocolate into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate on medium in 30 second bursts until it is melted and smooth, be careful not to burn the chocolate.

Mix the strawberries, marshmallows, shortbread and coconut together in a medium bowl.

Pour in the melted white chocolate. Mix all of the yumminess together.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pans. Cover and pop it into the fridge until it is set.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cookies for Santa

Before you start wondering why I'm posting carrot cookies as a Christmas thing, I assure you I have a reason.. promise!

What does your family leave out for Santa Christmas Eve? Milk and cookies? Eggnog and fruitcake? Maybe a cold beer? (Not condoning drinking and slay driving)

We always left out milk and cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, now that I've grown up and learnt a few of Santa's secrets, a beer would probably be welcomed.

Choc Candy Cane Ice Creams

Today I've got the perfect post Christmas day dessert to share with you. Christmas lunch or Christmas dinner means a stretchy pant sized meal for a lot of people, and while we all try to leave room for dessert it doesn't always happen. These petite sized Choc Candy Cane Ice Cream Pops are a sure fix those post feast sweets cravings, especially on a hot Summer day.

The minty flavour in these frosty treats, entirely from the crushed candy canes stirred into the mix, is a lovely refreshing end to big meal. The individual popsicles are the perfect size and as an added bonus save you the extra washing up of ice cream bowls and spoons.
The only thing to consider when making these popsicles is that as it is a no egg recipe the ice cream will soften faster while you are working with it. Ensure your moulds and tools are cold as possible to keep your ice cream from melting too much.

Candy Cane Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup Sweetened Condensed milk
1 cup thickened cream
1/4 cup sugar
6 regular sized candy canes (crushed)
a few drops red food colouring

100 grams dark chocolate
To make the Ice Cream- add the milk, condensed milk, cream, colouring and sugar into a large mixing bowl, stir until the sugar has dissolved. Cover the mixture and chill in the fridge until very cold.

Pour the chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to your machines instructions.
While the ice cream is churning place your popsicle moulds into the freezer to ensure everything is cold as possible.

Once the ice cream is at soft serve consistency, quickly stir through the candy cane pieces,

Spoon the ice cream into popsicle moulds and insert pop sticks. Freeze for at least 2 hours.

Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl 30 seconds at a time, stirring between bursts, until smooth.

Covering the ice cream pops needs to be done quickly so the ice cream doesn't melt. To remove the pops from the moulds quickly dip the outside of the mould into a cup of warm water, careful not to get water on the ice cream.
Take one ice cream pops from the freezer at a time, use a spoon to drizzle chocolate over the ice cream and sprinkle with sprinkles. Lay the choc coated ice creams in a container lined with baking paper. Return to the freezer until you are ready to enjoy them.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Slice and bake cookies

This is one of those great time saver recipes, one recipe that make two kinds of cookies, or really as many combinations as you like. I made half mms cookies and half cranberry pistachio, but the recipe would divide well into four for maybe a choc chip version and some cinnamon cookies, so many possibilities. Plus make the cookie dough a day ahead  and it can sit in your fridge ready to slice and bake cookies as you need them. There's nothing that says Christmas more than the smell of baked goods wafting from a house, prepare the dough ahead of time and cut and bake fresh cookies for your friends.

For the Cookies (makes 40)
250 grams butter (softened)
1 1/4 cups icing sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cornflour
2 tablespoons milk

150 grams red and green mms
red and green sanding sugar
1/4 cups dried cranberries (chopped)
1/4 cup pistachios (chopped)

To make the cookies- preheat oven to 160 degrees c.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. 
Stir in flours in two parts, followed but the milk until dough comes together. 
Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half.

Add the mms to one half of the mix and kneed lightly until the dough is smooth.
Spread a mixture or red and green sanding sugar onto a tray and roll the mms log of cookie dough to coat.

Kneed the cranberries and pistachios into the second half of dough.

Roll each half of dough into a 25 cm long log and wrap in cling wrap. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least an hour, until firm.

Cut each length of dough in to 1cm thick disks and lay flat on a lined baking tray about 3cms apart.
Bake the cookies for roughly 20 minutes. Cool cookies on wire racks.

Parcel Presents

My gift shopping is almost all done, now for the fun part. Wrapping!! It might be strange but I really like wrapping presents. I enjoy having a bit of a theme, this year i'm keeping it simple with red polka dots and brown paper.

Brown craft paper always makes me think mail parcels, so why not dress my gifts up as some. A few printed random stamps, a little red and white twine and some cute labels- like these fun printables from eatdrinkchic- are all you need to make you pressies look like cute packages.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Eggnog Cake

I'm running a day behind, due to an Ikea bed putting together emergency last night, but will make up for it with two posts tomorrow. Consider this Eggnog Cake post day 13 of the advent calendar Christmas posts.
 I love love LOVE this recipe and not just because I love eggnog. The cake turned out so lovely and fluffy, with yummy hints of vanilla and nutmeg and a subtle eggnog flavour.
The coconut white chocolate tree toppers were fun and pretty way to decorate the cake, click back to day twelves post for a how to guide on make them.

For the Eggnog Cake
1 cup eggnog (1/2 cup + 1/2 cup)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
280 grams butter (softened)
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1teaspoon ground nutmeg

To make the cake- preheat oven to 180 degrees c.  Butter and flour two 8 inch round cake tins.

In a medium bowl combine the 1/2 cup eggnog, eggs and vanilla and whisk lightly.

In your mixer bowl add flour, sugar, nutmeg and baking powder and mix on low to combine.

Add the remaining half of the eggnog and the butter to the flour mixture and beat for 2 minutes on mid speed. 

Pour in the egg mixture a third at a time beat for 20 seconds after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. The mixture should be light and fluffy.

Divide the mix between the two cake pans and level out. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Allow to cool in tins for 10 minutes before turning out into wire racks to cool completely.

For the Eggnog Buttercream
250 grams butter
4 cups icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons eggnog

To make the Eggnog Buttercream- beat the butter in your mixer bowl pale and smooth.

Add the remaining ingredients to the butter and beat the frosting until light and fluffy. Add a little more icing sugar or eggnog to get to a spreadable consistency. 
To decorate the cake- trim the raised tops off of the cakes to get two even layers.

Spread a thick layer of frosting over the cut top of the first cake layer. 
 Sandwich on the second layer of cake.
Cover the top and sides of the cake with frosting, using your knife to create swirls of buttercream. 
Top the cake with coconut ice cream cone Christmas trees and a little extra coconut and cachous if you like.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Coconut Christmas Tree Cake Toppers

Just Short and sweet post today. I'll be honest I'm running behind in my Christmas baking, but really want to achieve my 25 days of Christmas posts. I think maybe I should have started earlier, time is something that there is never enough of at this point in the year. 

These coconut covered Christmas trees are toppers to decorate a cake I'll be posting tomorrow, but they'd look great on top of cupcakes too. 
For the Coconut Christmas trees
Ice cream cones
200 grams white chocolate melts
Shredded coconut
silver or coloured cachous

To make the coconut trees- place the chocolate melts in a microwave safe bowl, heat in the microwave 30 seconds at a time until melted. Poor the melted chocolate into a tall thin glass (tall enough to dip the ice cream cones in).

Dip the ice cream cones into the melted chocolate and coat all over, allow any excess chocolate to drip off.

Roll the chocolate coated ice cream cones in coconut to cover. Stand upright to set.

Before the chocolate is set press on the cachous decorations.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Snow Globe Gingerbread Houses

I'm loving all the diy mason jar snow globes around this year! The little kitschy deer ones really make me smile, the ones with the little sparkly trees too.

It was all that cuteness that inspired the idea for my gingerbread house this year, or rather gingerbread houses. Instead of one large gingerbread house, I made a few smaller ones, small enough to fit inside jars.

I love how pretty they look all grouped together, I think they'll make the perfect centre piece for this years Christmas day table.
This recipe makes enough dough for roughly 6 small- medium houses or you could make one big house. I only used half of it to make my 3 houses and extra tree cut-outs. I used the other half in an upcoming post. Extra dough can be frozen and thawed in the fridge overnight before using.

I haven't included a template for the ginger bread houses as it really depends on the size of the jars you use. Just be sure to make your templates smaller than the jar opening to leave room for expanding while baking.

For the Gingerbread-
100 grams butter (chopped)
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup golden syrup
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
4 cups sifted plain flour (4 - 4 1/2 cups as needed)
1 cup sifted self raising flour
3 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon bicarb (baking) soda

To make the gingerbread- add the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup into a small saucepan.

Stir over a low heat until all melted together and smooth. Once cool add sugar mixture and eggs into a large bowl.

Add the flours, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and baking soda to the wet ingredients.Mix all together until well combined. If mixture is too wet add up to another 1/2 cup of plain flour as needed.

Give the dough a light knead and divide it into quarters. Flatten each portion of dough into a disk and wrap in cling-wrap. Chill the disks of dough in the fridge for at least one hour before rolling out. (I made my dough the night before and used it the next morning)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.

Roll the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper. Working with one dough portion at a time roll out to 5mm thick.

Lay the template onto the rolled out dough and cut out using a knife. Cut out two of each template, re-rolling the dough when needed.
Transfer the baking paper and gingerbread cutouts onto flat baking trays. Bake the gingerbread pieces for about 12 to 15 minutes, until they are golden.

Repeat with all the pieces and allow to cool completely on cooling racks.

For the Royal Icing
300 grams icing sugar
3 tablespoons meringue powder
4-5 tablespoons water (approximately)

To make the Royal Icing- Beat the icing sugar, meringue powder and water with an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix for about 7 minutes on low speed until the icing is smooth. If the icing is a bit too thick add a little more water one teaspoon at a time. If it is too thin add a bit more icing sugar one tablespoon at a time, beat again until smooth.

To pipe on the details onto the walls of the house I used a fine tipped squeezy bottle filled with royal icing. For the larger details on the roof I used a squeezy bottle but trimmed the end to give a larger opening.
To build the gingerbread house-Starting with the wall pieces, pipe a line of royal icing along either end. Press the front and back gingerbread pieces onto the sides. Allow to set before attaching the roof.

Pipe royal icing along the top edges of the walls, front and back of the gingerbread house.
Press on one half of the roof and hold until stable, it wont take too long. Repeat with the other side of the roof. Allow all of the royal icing to set.

Pipe a decorative line along each edge to hide the joins in the gingerbread.
To make gingerbread jars- Pipe a line of icing along the base of the ginger bread pieces. Stand the pieces in place and allow the icing to set. Place something behind the trees to hold them upright while the icing hardens.

Fill the base with coconut and top with the jar.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cream Cheese Christmas Tree

Just a super quick post today, really its kind of a part two of yesterday's Cheese and Sesame Crackers post. This super fast and easy cream cheese Christmas tree is prefect for holiday entertaining. During the many hours I waste on pinterest I came across this idea a few times (sorry I don't know who originally came up with it to give them credit) and thought it would make a fun addition to a cheese platter.
Simply cut a block of cream cheese on the diagonal and position the 2 halves back to back. Spoon over your favourite cream cheese topping, I used a tomato and pepper relish, but a chutney or even sweet chilli sauce would be yummy too.
Add a few last details, a capsicum star on top and small diced pieces over the body of the tree. Finally finish it off with a celery stump. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Savoury Cheese and Sesame Crackers

The holiday season is not just all about sweets (yep I really just said that), there's lot's of tasty savouries to enjoy too. Like these cheese and sesame crackers, which are just as the name describes, cheese-y sesame-y with a bit of spice.

These tasty biscuits are a perfect addition to a cheese platter, or enjoy with a glass of wine or icey cold beer. 
Cheese and Sesame Crackers
150 grams cold butter
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup vintage cheddar cheese (grated)
1/2  cup parmesan cheese (grated)
sesame seeds
rock salt

To make the crackers- Add the flour and cayenne pepper to the bowl of a food processor, grate the cold butter onto the bowl over the flour. Process until crumbly.
Add the 2 cheeses and process until a dough forms. 
Turn the dough out into a lighlty floured surface and knead until smooth. 

Divide the dough in half and roll into logs about 15cm long. 

Spread the sesame seeds out on a baking tray to reduce mess. Roll the outside of each log inthe seeds until covered. 
Wrap the lengths of dough with plastic wrap and chill the fridge until firm (about 1 hour). 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c. and line trays with baking paper. 

Remove the plastic wrap and cut the dough into half cm rounds. Place the slices on baking trays about 3 cm apart.
 Bake for roughly 15 minutes. Allow biscuits to cool on trays.