RECIPES: Eight sweet Christmas classics

1. Gingerbread cookies


 2 1/2 cups plain flour  

 1 egg  

 125g butter, chopped  

 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger  

  1/3 cup brown sugar  

  1/3 cup golden syrup  

 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon  

  3/4 tsp ground cloves  

 1 tsp bicarb soda

METHOD: Melt butter in saucepan, then add sugar and golden syrup and stir. Using a whisk, combine butter and egg. Add flour, spices and bicarb using a sift and mix to form a dough. Roll into a ball and cover with cling wrap. Rest in fridge for 1 hour. Roll out gingerbread to 5mm and use cookie cutters. Bake for 10 mins at 180C. Decorate with icing. Makes 15-20.

TIP: Biscuits keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

2. Strawberry, raspberry trifle


 2 punnets raspberries  

 2 punnets strawberries  

  1/4 cup caster sugar  

  1/4 cup Cointreau  

 250ml thickened cream  

 250ml vanilla custard 

 6 sponge fingers  

 icing sugar

METHOD: Combine fruits, 1 tbs sugar and Cointreau in a bowl. Macerate for one hour. Combine custard and cream and remaining sugar and beat until smooth. In glasses place a layer of sponge fingers, followed by cream, then topped with macerated fruits. Dust with icing sugar. Serves 6.

TIP: Strawberries and raspberries can be macerated the day before, but for best results assemble prior to serving.

3. White Christmas snowballs


 500g white chocolate  

 1 packet of sweet plain biscuits (Milk Coffee or Marie)  

  1/2 cup chopped almonds  

  1/4 cup dried apricots  

  1/4 cup glace cherries, chopped  

  3/4 cup coconut ( 1/2 cup for balls, 1/4 for rolling)  

 1 cup condensed milk

METHOD: Process biscuits in food processor into a fine crumb. Combine in a bowl with coconut, cherries, apricot and condensed milk. Roll into balls, then refrigerate for one hour. Melt chocolate in microwave (about 3 minutes), stirring as you go. Dip balls in chocolate using a skewer, then roll in coconut. Repeat, then refrigerate balls to set. Makes 25.

TIP: Can be made a week in advance.

4. Traditional shortbread


 2 1/4 cups plain flour  

  2/3 cup rice flour  

 250g unsalted butter  

  1/2 cup caster sugar

METHOD: Sift flours into bowl, then add sugar and softened butter. Rub butter into flour using fingers until dough forms. Wrap dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for half an hour. Roll dough out to desired thickness, cut with a cookie cutter, then sprinkle with sugar and bake for 30 mins or until pale golden.

TIP: Store in an airtight container for up to one month.



5. Easy fruit mince pies


 24 mini tart cases  

 410g fruit mince  

 1 granny smith apple  

  1/3 cup chopped prunes  

 1 tsp orange rind  

 2tbs brandy  

 slivered almonds  

 icing sugar

METHOD: Grate apple and combine with fruit mince, brandy, prunes and orange rind. Spoon into tart cases, top with slivered almonds and bake at 180C for 5-7mins. Dust with icing sugar. Makes 24.

TIP: The tarts will keep for five days in an airtight container.



6. Cream-filled brandy snaps


  1/3 cup plain flour  

 1 tsp ground ginger  

 3 tbs butter  

  1/3 cup brown sugar  

 3 tbs golden syrup  

 2 tsp brandy  

 160ml thickened cream  

 1 tbs icing sugar

METHOD: In a saucepan, melt butter, brown sugar and syrup over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Allow to cool. Mix in flour and ginger. On a lined tray, place three to four teaspoonfuls, making sure each is well separated. Cook at 180C for five mins until bubbled and about 10cm in size. Use spatula to lift and wrap around a wooden spoon handle, about 2cm in diameter. Work quickly, then repeat. Whisk cream, brandy and icing sugar and pipe into brandy snaps.

TIP: Brandy snap shells can be made in advance, carefully placed between baking paper in a container and kept in the freezer. Pipe with cream before serving.



7. Vanilla custard


 250ml cup double cream  

 750ml milk  

 4 egg yolks  

 1 cup caster sugar  

 3tbs cornflour  

 1tbs vanilla extract

METHOD: Bring cream and milk to a gentle boil in a large sauce

pan. In a bowl, whisk yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla. Gradually add the hot milk into the bowl, whisking continuously.

Return mixture to saucepan over low heat for about 8-10 minutes until thickened. Stir frequently with wooden spoon.

TIP: Refrigerate and consume within 2-3 days.

8. Easy egg nog


 2 eggs beaten  

 3tbs sugar  

 2 cups milk  

 1 tsp vanilla extract  

 pinch nutmeg  

 2x 30ml nip brandy, whisky, bourbon or rum

METHOD: Blend ingredients together in blender. Serve chilled.

TIP: Ensure you are using the freshest eggs available. Avoid raw eggs if pregnant. And leave out the alcohol if serving to children. Best consumed the day making.

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