Cranberry and White Chocolate Biscotti

These Cranberry and white chocolate biscotti has to be one of my firm favourites to bake around Christmas time. They are fab for the Christmas biscuit tin, for entertaining, or for just sitting down and enjoying with a cuppa – they taste amazing.

Ingredients

220g Caster Sugar

2 Eggs

200g Plain Flour

50g Self Raising Flour

100g Grated White Chocolate

75g Dried Cranberries

Method

In a bowl, whisk your eggs and then add to them the caster sugar. Whisk until well combined and fluffy.

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Chop your cranberries in half and add to the eggs. Grate your white chocolate and pop that in also and mix to combine. Add in both flours and using your hands, combine everything until it forms a loose dough mixture. Turn out onto your work surface and begin to bring your dough mixture together until you have formed a ball.

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Using a rolling pin, roll your dough into a long rectangle shape but make sure it still remains quite thick if you want big chunky biscotti. Then pop the dough onto a baking tray.

Bake at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. Once you have removed from the oven, leave on the baking tray to cool slightly for about 10-15 minutes. You will need to slice off your biscotti and you don’t want to burn yourself.

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Reduce your oven temperature down to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2.

Once the biscotti slab has cooled slightly, begin slicing the dough to form your biscotti. Once done, place the individual biscotti on their sides onto the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the biscotti over to bake the other side for a further 15 minutes.

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Remove from oven and transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely. Then enjoy with a cuppa, with friends, or pop them in a cellophane bag and give away as gifts. Enjoy!

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Gingerbread House

Every year I have my family at my house and we host Christmas Day. For the last few years I have made an edible treat as a favour for the dining table, using them as place names. Last year I made gingerbread cookies with royal iced piping on with my guests names on. This year, I made everyone an individual gingerbread house.

Ingredients for the gingerbread – this will make approx 4 small gingerbread houses depending on what size cutter you use.

350g Plain Flour

2 tsp Ground Ginger

1 tsp Bicarb of Soda

175g Light Brown Sugar

1 Egg

4 tbsp Golden Syrup

Method for Gingerbread

Place your flour, bicarb of soda and ginger in a bowl. Cube the butter and rub into the flour.

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Next, add in the soft brown sugar, the egg and finally the golden syrup. Mix together then turn out onto your work surface and begin bringing it together to form a dough.

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This is a lovely gingerbread recipe, and now you have your dough, you can make anything. gingerbread men, cookies, or for these cute littler gingerbread houses.

I used a small square cutter to make my gingerbread houses. For each house, you will need 7 cookie squares. Cut out and then place onto a baking sheet, making sure to leave a gap in between each cookie as they will spread out slightly when cooking and you don’t want them joining together.

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Bake at 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 for 10-12 minutes. Once you remove them from the oven, leave them on the baking sheet to cool for about 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

While you are waiting for your gingerbread cookies to cool, you can begin to make your royal icing.

Royal Icing Ingredients

2 Egg Whites

500g Icing Sugar

Royal Icing Method

In a pyrex bowl, whisk your egg whites until they form a stiff peak. Once you have achieved this, slowly start adding in your icing sugar a couple of tablespoons at a time and continue to whisk, repeating until you have used all of the icing sugar. You will end up with a really stiff mixture, that you can water down later once you start decorating. A top tip here would be to place a tea towel underneath your bowl as the mixture becomes stiffer. It will be harder to mix and the bowl may try to move around whilst you are whisking. The tea towel keeps the bowl in place for you.

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Once your gingerbread cookies are cool, you can begin to assemble your gingerbread houses. Using the royal icing as glue, stick your cookies together as shown below.

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Once you have the main structure, leave the icing to set for an hour or so (the longer you can leave the better). Once the royal icing is firm and hard, you can use another two gingerbread cookies and ice them together to form the roof.  Once the roof is on, again leave for a while for the icing to firm up (I left mine overnight, but an hour should be fine).

Once set, you can begin decorating your gingerbread houses. I did a very simple design on mine, I piped slates on the roof and a door and windows on the front.  ‘Merry Xmas’ was piped on one of the sides, and at the back of the house I piped my guests name.

Another nice touch I added was I popped some Christmas chocolate coins inside the house as an extra surprise for my guests. These are not the prettiest of gingerbread houses, Ive never made them before, but I quite liked them and my guests did too.

Why not give it a go, or make a giant one (maybe double up the recipe depending on what size you wish to make). Why not make with the kiddies and add on lots of lovely treats like Smarties, mini Toblerone chunks, mini marshmallows, candy canes or anything else you may have lying around your home this festive holiday. Have fun and enjoy!

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Mince Pies

One Christmas I was making some mince pies. I’d weighed my flour and as I went to the fridge for the butter, I found that I only had half the amount of butter that was needed. Instead of ditching my Christmas baking (or run to the shop for more butter), I decided to make up the butter shortfall with some baking margarine. This has been one of the best baking accidents I have ever had. This pastry comes out very short, crumbly and light. I love this recipe and now use it as the basis for all my sweet pastry bakes.

Ingredients

115g Cold Butter in cubes

115g Baking margarine

100g Caster sugar

350g Plain flour

1 Egg

Method

Weigh out the flour and add in the baking margarine (in chunks), and the cubes of butter.

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Roll up your sleeves and get your hands in the bowl. Rub the margarine and butter into the flour and work until you have formed a breadcrumb consistency. Then add in the sugar and combine.

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Add in the egg and combine using a knife. The knife method is quite old school, but it was the way I was taught how to make pastry by my Mum, so I have always stuck to this method.

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Tip out the mixture onto your worktop and begin working  it to form a dough.

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You can either use the dough straight away, or wrap in clingfilm and pop into the fridge until you are ready to use it. It is always best to pop it into the fridge for an hour or so if you can. The pastry will keep to up to 3 days in the fridge.

When you are ready to make your pies, roll out your pastry and using two different sizes of round cutters, cut out your pie bases and the lids. Pop the pastry bases into a greaseproof muffin tray. As I was making deep filled mince pies, add in a dessert spoonful of mince meat (you can make mince meat – but who has time for that? I got mine from a supermarket – easy peasy).

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Brush some beaten egg around the edges of the filled pies and then place the lids on top. Using two fingers, press firmly on the lids so it joins the pastry base to seal your pies. Brush the lids with your egg wash and add a sprinkle of caster sugar on the top.

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Bake at 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 for 25-30 minutes, until light brown in colour and they are cooked through (we don’t want any soggy bottoms)!

Eat warm, eat cold, just eat and enjoy! Merry Christmas!

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Rugby Ball Cookies

I love baking cookies, and when an opportunity arised at work that needed some Rugby shaped cookies, I jumped at the chance to make these.

Ingredients

250g Butter

140g Icing Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Egg Yolk

300g Plain Flour

75g Cocoa Powder

Method

Cream together the butter and icing sugar and mix until combined. You should have a mixture that is light and fluffy. Then add in your egg and vanilla extract and mix together.

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Once combined, add in the flour and the cocoa powder and pull together so it forms breadcrumbs.

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Pour the dough mixture out onto your work surface and bring the breadcrumbs together so it forms a dough.

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The dough is the best if you wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for an hour for the butter to firm up before baking.

Once your dough is ready, you can roll out and start cutting out your biscuits. I used a large round cutter and squashed it to make an oval shape for my biscuits. These biscuits do not tend to expand much when cooking, however it is always wise to leave a bit of a gap when putting them onto your baking tray.

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Bake at 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 for about 15 minutes (you may want to increase/reduce the cooking time dependant on how big your biscuits are).

I used Royal Icing to decorate my biscuits. You will need the following:

Royal Icing Ingredients

2 Egg Whites

500g Icing Sugar

Royal Icing Method

In a pyrex bowl, whisk your egg whites until they form a stiff peak. Once you have achieved this, slowly start adding in your icing sugar a couple of tablespoons at a time and continue to whisk, repeating until you have used all of the icing sugar. You will end up with a really stiff mixture, that you can water down later once you start decorating. A top tip here would be to place a tea towel underneath your bowl as the mixture becomes stiffer. It will be harder to mix and the bowl may try to move around whilst you are whisking. The tea towel keeps the bowl in place for you.

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Once your biscuits have baked and cooled, you can begin piping the detail for the rugby balls. These make a great treat for the kids to enjoy and i’m sure they will love baking them with you. Enjoy!

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