Mini Christmas Cakes

These were another creation for my Christmas gift hampers. I also took some into work as the batch made 24 of the little beauties. I used a mini Victoria sandwich tin, which has loose bottoms (don’t we all?!) and straight sides, but otherwise looks very much like a muffin tin. If you don’t mind your mini cakes having angled sides then I’d just use a muffin tin. I’d had my eye on the mini sandwich tin for ages though and when it was reduced to less than half price, I just had to have it. I have a cake tin addiction, you might have guessed.

Mini Christmas cakesIdeally, you should soak the fruit for a few days to a week, until it stops absorbing brandy. If you end up making these on the spur of the moment then you can gently boil the fruit in the brandy to get a similar effect, the fruit doesn’t quite have the same boozy impact though but still tastes pretty good.

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Gingerbread…

Let’s talk about gingerbread and let’s talk about books. I absolutely love both these things. When it comes to reading, I like to read biographies of physicists/mathematicians, books about disasters involving radiation or chick lit / foodie books about women running cafés/bakeries. I work as a scientist, but I dream of owning a cafe (no need to state the obvious, eh?). My Kindle died many months ago and it was a sad, sad day. I downloaded the Kindle app on my iPad and then sulked about not having a Kindle for a while. Then, I got over myself and got into Kindle on the iPad, it is a little harsher on they eyes but it’s a small price to pay (literally, ha!) for many cheap books. This rambling leads me onto the point, which is that I discovered a new author (new to me, I’m sure she has been doing it a while), Rebecca Raisin, who seems to have discovered exactly what I want out of life and written novellas about every single aspect (owning a cafe, a book shop, a maple syrup farm, going to Bali – it is scary). Speaking a novellas, these are new to me but from what I can gather they are just short stories; delicious, addictive, short stories. She creates the best, realest characters; I get so lost in those books of hers. My favourites have to be the Gingerbread Cafe series (with a spin off called The Bookshop on the Corner and another spin off coming out in March called Secrets at the Maple Syrup Farm). The Gingerbread Cafe series novellas are the perfect, quick and easy, festive reads with just the right balance of baking and romance. What more could you want?!

Gingerbread

Here I’ll share my gingerbread recipe. I like my gingerbread biscuits to be spicy and crunchy. It  might not be the most popular gingerbread style but if you are like me and like a bit of snap in your biscuit, then this one it for you. You’ll have to excuse the uninspiring photograph, I’d been baking for 5 hours by that point, making most of the bits and bobs to go into my Christmas gift hampers; inspiration was running low. I like to use spelt flour to make gingerbread, I tend not to eat grains but when I do, I try to stick to ancient grains as they induce less gluten effects in me. Plus, spelt has such a lovely depth of flavour and the ginger is powerful enough to not be subdued by it.

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Boozy Chocolate Truffles

Ok, I lied, these don’t HAVE to be boozy and I don’t normally a) drink alcohol or b) like chocolate liquors but Christmas makes everyone a little crazy and for me, that means making boozy truffles. This year I made Cointreau truffles and Calvados truffles,  as part of a gift hamper that I like to make for people. I find hampers great gifts for people when you want to show thought but not waste money on something someone may or may not like. Home made gifts are lovely and in my opinion, the world needs more crafters and cooks (or let’s be honest, more time to do those things!). I’ll be featuring all the items that went into the hamper over the next few days; after which Christmas will actually be here. Where did 2014 go? I’m going to start changing things up on the blog in 2015 too, so stick around for the ride!

Brandy truffles

These truffles do not have to be boozy at all, they work perfectly as plain, delicious, chocolate truffles. I know they aren’t very pretty but it is what’s inside that counts and goodness me the insides of these are blissful. Rich, decadent, boozy bliss.

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Christmas Mince Tart

December has been here a whole week and I have finally got around to making mince pies and more excitingly, this Christmas Mince Tart. It is a cross between a mince pie and a Bakewell tart, what’s not to love?! I took this tart to a mulled wine/lighting of the tree evening with neighbours and given how quickly it was gone, people seemed to like it as much as I did (it was delicious and ridiculously festive!). I’ve been craving mince pies for weeks but  Iwas holding out to make some with the homemade mincemeat I made earlier in the year. I’m so glad it is mulled wine season, I really do love the stuff and it goes dangerously well with this tart. I generally don’t drink at all, that is until it is mulled wine season and I make a rather large exception.

Christmas tart

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