Santa’s cookies and Christmas recipes

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. There’s a sense of magic in the air – people are friendlier, smiles come more easily from strangers, and everything smells so ridiculously delicious! Along with the magic, the air is laden with smells like sherry, fruitcake, pine and cinnamon.

For me, Christmas revolves around food and family. In the absence of family this year (the Boy and I are in Sydney while the rest of my family are up the coast), I plan to eat myself into a a food coma – who is with me?

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And I’ve already started with these babies! I’ll be putting some out for Santa, but I can’t promise that I won’t nibble on them before he gets to them! They’re soft and moist, and the hint of cinnamon is subtle, but works wonders. Make these, Santa and your stomach will be eternally grateful.

Santa’s choc chip cookies

  • Makes 40 cookies
    1 1/2 cups Nuttelex
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 1/2 tspns cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons cornflour
  • 2 teaspoon bicarb
  • 5 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Cream together your Nuttelex and both types of sugar, then add in the eggs, vanilla and cinnamon until just combined.

Pop the cornflour and bicarb in, then add in the flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Try not to overmix, as this will make your cookies tough.

Finally, add in the choc chips, saving a handful of each and setting them to one side.
Scoop out heaped tablespoons of mixture and roll between your hands until you have a rough disc, then press some of the remaining choc chips into the discs so that you end up with an appealing mix of chocolate on the top of the cookie.

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Set them on your lined tray about 1cm apart and pop into the oven for 12 minutes, rotating at half way. These cookies are best if you only put one tray in at a time. However, if you decide to put two trays in at once, leave them in for 2 minutes extra, and swap them over at half way so that they cook evenly.

When you remove them from the oven, allow them to cool for two minutes, then transfer them to a cooling tray.

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I recommend you devour these babies warm, but make sure you save some for Santa!

If cookies aren’t your thing, here are some other last minute Christmas recipes for you:

No-bake choc mint cheesecake

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Mint chocolate crackles

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Cherry syllabub

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No-bake choc-mint cheesecake and leftovers

Is anyone else still thinking about Christmas? We had so much food on Christmas Day that there are still leftovers hanging around. We had to toss out the last of the Christmas bush, which made me rather sad – as beautiful as it is, it was definitely past its best.

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The last of the ham was finished yesterday, chocolate covered nuts are readily available for mid-afternoon snacking, and there are lollies everywhere! Specifically, candy canes. If you’ve got some of those red and white striped beauties sitting around the house, I would thoroughly recommend using them up with this recipe.

We also have a tonne of cream in our house. Deliciously thick cream that I was lucky enough to be invited to try by Anchor Cream. And, rather than using it to drown my leftover Christmas pudding, I thought I’d put it to good use.

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This recipe is cool and refreshing and requires very little effort as it’s a no-bake cheesecake. It’s an entertainer’s dream – delicious, stunning and so simple! Even if you haven’t got candy canes, you can use mints of any type, or leave them out completely. Did I mention that it only has six ingredients? 6 ingredient cheesecake – get this in your belly right now!

No-bake choc-mint cheesecakes

Makes: 4 servings

  • 240g (about 15) mint slice biscuits
  • 250g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 1 1/4 cups thickened cream (I used Anchor Cream)
  • 2/3 cup icing sugar
  • 2 candy canes, for decoration

Blitz your mint slices in a food processor for about two minutes, until they’re crumbs. Set to one side.

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Beat your cream cheese at a  medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until smooth. Add in a small amount of your cream and mix it well with the cream cheese. Pour in the rest of your cream and continue to beat for your cream for 2 minutes. I’m a little in love with the fact that the Anchor Cream bottles have cup markings on them so that you can pour straight from the bottle into your mixture – they’re a baker’s dream come true!

Sift in the icing sugar and whip on a high speed for 3 minutes.

Melt your chocolate and slowly stir it into your creamy mixture. If the mixture is lumpy, pour it through a strainer. Set to one side.

Grab your candy canes and crush them – leave some large chunks, a bit of size variation is nice. I did this by unwrapping the candy canes, popping them in snap lock bags and hitting them with a heavy knife.

Layer 3 1/2 tbsp of mint slice crumbs in the base of your glasses and compact lightly with the back of a soup spoon. Pour your cheesecake mixture about halfway up each glass and allow the air bubbles to escape – pop them with a spoon if they need help. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tbsp of mint slice crumbs evenly over your cheesecake mixture to create a little seam, then top with more cream cheese mixture.

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Repeat with remaining three glasses, then sprinkle candy cane shards and any leftover mint slice crumbs over the top and set in the fridge for two hours.

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Tip: Use slim, straight sided glasses so that you can layer to your heart’s content.

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If you’re after some Anchor Cream of your own, you can find it at Woolworths. Keep an eye out for the cow on the packaging!

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If you’re a fan of choc-mint recipes, I’ve got some doozies for you:

Mint chocolate crackles

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Mint slice cupcakes

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Cherry syllabub and Christmas cheer

It’s Christmas Eve and I can’t help but feel contemplative. A year of big changes is almost at a close and I’m super excited about next year. Baking with Gab has taken me to wonderful places, and put me in touch with amazing people.
Most recently, those amazing people are from Anchor Cream. They approached me to see if I’d like to put together some creamy recipes. Being a dairy lover from way back, I naturally said yes! The cream is deliciously smooth and creamy (duh) and comes in these handy little bottles which make it tempting to stick in a straw and take a few sips. Definitely going to be seeing more Anchor Cream in my fridge in the new year…
I can’t wait to continue making delicious treats next year! Before next year, however, I’ve got Christmas Day!
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I’m spending mine with lots of family and a couple of welcome blow-ins. I love that Christmas at my parents’ house is open to all. It’s this giant free-for-all with kids darting in and out, adults indulging in the lolly bowls that the kids haven’t found, dogs getting underfoot and food EVERYWHERE. Ham and pork and cakes and salads and chicken and bread and dips and cheese and pavlova. You get the point.

Speculoos fondant cookies and the meaning of Christmas

This time of year really gets me thinking about what Christmas means. Having been to Europe earlier in the year, I’m thinking about white Christmas, mulled wine and open fires. Of course, Australia’s Christmas is completely the opposite. Right now it’s 30+ degrees every day and lots of humidity – not quite the idyllic Christmas that most people dream of.
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But I wouldn’t have it any other way. As much as I love experiencing parts of other cultures, one of my favourite things to do is bring them home with me. This is why I made these little gems!

Vanilla cupcakes and a Christmas giveaway

I. LOVE. CHRISTMAS!

Yesterday was officially the first day of Summer, which means I am positively squirming at the prospect of Christmas. In my house, the first day of December also means that we can start putting Christmas decorations out.

The decorations have surfaced, our little nativity babushka has been positioned…all we need is a tree.

I’m not talking those little, neat, plastic ones that most Australian families trot out year after year, I’m talking full blown, real life Christmas tree. They shed everywhere and the dogs pick fights with the low hanging branches, but I would not have it any other way.

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I’m hoping we get a tree this weekend…I’ll keep you updated.

So, to kick off this exciting time of year, I’m sharing a perfect, simple little festive treat and a giveaway!! I used Heilala Vanilla in these cupcakes, and I could not recommend them more highly. Their vanilla products are amazingly delicious, and if you follow their Instagram you actually learn things. For example, did you know that vanilla has to be hand pollinated?

Just let that sink in a little.

Those delightfully fragrant stalks take A LOT of work before they make it to your kitchen.

To celebrate this time of year, Heilala (pronounced hey-la-la) have made up these cute little Vanilla Posh Popcorn Packs valued at $31.95.
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To win this pack (which includes 150ml Heilala Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 100ml Heilala Vanilla Syrup and 250g organic corn kernels) just email baking withgab@gmail.com and tell me who you’ll share your Posh Popcorn Pack with and why. One extra entry for people who tag their mate in the WIN post on Facebook.
This competition is only open to Australian residents (sorry, international friends!) and closes on December 20th, 2015. The prize pack may have to be enjoyed after Christmas, depending on warehouse closures and the ability of the posts system close to Christmas, so winner, please be patient. This competition is completely down to chance, the winner will be chosen at random.
Good luck!!

Vanilla cupcakes

Makes 24

  • 220g butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tspn Vanilla
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup milk

Perfect vanilla buttercream

  • 180g butter
  • 3 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1.5 tsp milk
  • Sprinkles, to decorate

Preheat your oven to 170°C and line your cupcake tins with patty pans.

Cream together your butter and sugar until pale. Add in your vanilla and egg whites. Sift in your flour and bicarb and mix well. Add in the milk and mix until just combined. Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until very lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

While the cupcakes cool, whip your icing up. Put your butter and one cup of icing sugar into your mixer and mix well. Add in the remaining icing sugar, followed by the milk and vanilla bean paste.

Very vanilla cupcakes (2 of 7)

Scoop your buttercream into a piping bag and pipe onto your cupcakes. Apply sprinkles liberally and serve with a nice hot cuppa.

It’s worth noting that these cupcakes have no bicarb in them – if you want them to be a little taller, add 1 tsp bicarb to them.

Very vanilla cupcakes (3 of 7)

Very vanilla cupcakes (4 of 7)

Very vanilla cupcakes (7 of 7)

Choc-mint dipped Christmas biscuits and small acts of kindness

aboveThis year I was invited to sign up for the Foodie Secret Santa. It’s run by Claire of Claire K Creations (she has a round-up here) and the timing could not have been better. If you’re not familiar with the concept, bloggers sign up to partake and are assigned three bloggers to mail goodies to. You receive a different gift from three bloggers in return. I made these little choc-mint dipped Christmas biscuits and sent them off to Melissa from House of Powell, Caroline of Shrinking Single and Clare from Life of Clare.

I received salted caramel fudge sauce from Melissa (we both got assigned one another!), porcini and garlic salt from an unnamed blogger and delicious, crumbly biscotti from another unnamed blogger. (I’ll update you with names when I know who the bloggers are.) I instagrammed the biscotti and caramel sauce here.

Choc cinnamon Christmas cake and delight

half cakeThis cake is delightful. It’s festive and delicious – what more could you ask for over Christmas?

For those of you who aren’t big on fruit cakes (my mother being one of those people) it’s handy to have an alternative. If you forgot to start soaking your dried fruit weeks ago, or you’re just not that keen on hanging a pudding in your garage for months on end, this is the cake for you.

It can be made the day before, or even Christmas day and it is just as festive as my dad’s Christmas pudding or caramel-filled cinnamon men.

daisy close upI have no better segue to introduce Miss Daisy than to compare her to this cake – she is also delightful. She is deliciously cheeky, excitable, and so tiny that she makes the handsome Norman look rather imposing (hah!)

Roast peaches and Summer flavours

closePeaches and ice cream scream summer treat to me. This simple little recipe is just a slight twist on that summer classic.

I realise that in summer the last thing you want to do is have the oven on. But believe me, this little treat is so worth it. The pain of having the oven on is short-lived, and the results are delightful.

Christmas musings

custardIt’s been four days since Christmas and I’ve finally worked up the energy to write a blog post. I love the laziness that the Christmas period engenders. Abundant leftovers means that dinners are cobbled together, time off work means that everyone is socialising, and said socialising and leftovers leaves people feeling pooped.

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This is just a little recap of all things Christmas-related, and a hint of things to come.

In the lead up to Christmas I made dad’s famous Christmas pudding with him (it’s a yearly tradition), you can find the recipe here.

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I also experienced some Swedish Christmas cooking and attended a Swedish Christmas eve party, which was delicious!

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I also dropped (and broke) my computer at the same time that I was busy baking up a Christmas storm. I didn’t get to post all of my Christmas recipes as a result, but will save them for another time.

I had a recipe card done up for me by house.com.au, and am very excited about it! I hope to continue working with House in the future.

Christmas day was held at my family’s home; Norman was very festive, there was food galore, we had a Christmas tree inside, and one decorated outside as well.

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Mum made a gorgeous mango and lychee salad and I promise that I’ll steal the recipe from her before Summer ends.

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I consumed far too much of the glorious Christmas pudding that we’d made, and found one of Simone Walsh’s adorable pudding coins in my piece!!

merry coin

The final winner of my teapot competition has been in touch, and all will be sent off tomorrow! The other three winners were announced here, but Gemma had a busy Christmas period and accepted her teapot only recently.

redGemma won the red teapot because of her enthusiastic response – she associated the colour red with my nurses uniform – I love my career, would never do anything else! My granny shopping trolley that I had to purchase at the good food and wine show, you gotta love it for helping carry shopping up 6 flights of stairs!!!
My Harrods Christmas bauble, has set the theme for this year’s decs #obsessedbychristmas”

Christmas time is a big deal in my family, and I love sharing my recipes, decorations and experiences with my readers. I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas!

Winners and trees in coconut snow

threeThis week I picked the winners of my teapot giveaway. I asked entrants to pick one of the four teapots available (red, yellow, blue or pink) and tell me four things they associated with that colour.

Caitlin won the yellow teapot, she said “Yellow is my favourite colour, it reminds me of flowers (yellow roses are mum’s favourite), sunshine, primary school sports carnivals (I was in gold, obviously, cause I’m the best), and the yellow bike that I really really really want but can’t afford.”

Charlotte says the colour of the blue teapot reminds her of reminds her of “discarded bird eggs, stormy skies, baby blankets and… blu-tack!”

Amanda said that the pink teapot was the same colour as “kitten’s paws, rosy cheeks, pink marshmallows and fairy floss! Four things that make my life just that little bit more sweet.”

The winner of the red teapot is yet to check her emails to accept. Once she’s accepted, I’ll announce the final winner. Otherwise I’ll have to pick a new winner.

Thank you to everyone that entered, I loved reading all the funny, sweet and quirky things that everyone had to say. I can’t wait to run another competition like this, it’s so lovely to see everyone’s creativity!

Unrelated to tea pots, here is my final Christmas post. These little treats only require four ingredients, and three of these are different kinds of chocolate! They can be thrown together in 20 minutes and they’re perfect for kids and adults alike.
paper caseThe only thing I should warn you about is that if you’re serving these babies in a hot climate (ie Australia), don’t take them out of the fridge until you intend to serve them, as the Christmas trees wilt a little if they get too warm.

Trees in snow:

Chocolate trees:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • M&Ms to decorate

Chocolate coconut snow:

  • 280g white chocolate*
  • 1 ½ cups shredded coconut
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut

coconutLine a large baking tray with baking paper and pour a small amount of M&Ms into a bowl. Set them both to one side. Melt your dark chocolate in the microwave and stir to achieve a smooth, even consistency.

Scoop chocolate into a snap lock bag and snip off a small section of one bottom corner. Working quickly, pipe zigzags of chocolate onto the baking paper – each zigzag will need to be slightly larger than the last to make it look like a Christmas tree. Repeat.trees

Don’t worry if your trees are different sizes or styles, this just adds to their cuteness!

Once you’ve piped each of your Christmas trees, place a few M&Ms onto each tree to look like Christmas decorations. Try to work quickly so that the chocolate doesn’t set too much before you’ve placed them. Once they’re all decorated, pop them in the freezer.

Line 16 cupcake tin cups with paper cases while the trees are in the freezer.

Melt your chocolate in the microwave, checking at regular intervals that it doesn’t burn. Combine both types of coconut in a bowl and pour the melted chocolate over the top. Using a spatula, mix the chocolate and coconut together until all coconut is coated in chocolate.

unwrappedScoop a heaped tablespoon of mixture into each paper case and flatten slightly with the back of the spoon. Using a butter knife, cut a shallow line across the length of each serving of chocolate coconut snow. When your trees have set, whip them out of the freezer and gently nestle one tree in each of the cuts that you made, ensuring that they are nice and stable.

Refrigerate for 15 minutes and serve. You can serve them with or without the paper cases.

*the white chocolate can easily be replaced with dark or milk chocolate, if you so desire.