I really enjoy writing this round-up post – traditionally my last one before Christmas. I probably say more or less the same thing every year (don’t panic! It’s just a big roast dinner), but as usual, remember that it’s your Christmas too. Grab a few willing helpers to make some Christmas cookies, or whip up some of my perfect frozen whipped cream hot chocolate and have a little prep-party on Christmas Eve (it’s amazing how much you can get done the night before). Need a little inspiration? Read on for my top tips and recipes for Christmas dinner and beyond: fresh ideas, old favourites and more!
I’m obsessed with everything Scandinavian (some of you may know that I’ve just written the recipes and contributed some of the food photography for a book called Nordic Style for Viking Cruises along with Liz Jarvis and Sara Malm – super proud!). I especially love how the Scandinavians do Christmas, and, knowing that Homesense often have extra special bits and pieces from around the globe, I headed to my nearest store to find some inspiration for a Scandi Christmas, and a few bits for some special Scandi Christmas cookies.
Now Christmas is in full swing, I seem to be baking mince pies nearly every day. I always feel a bit sorry for Charlie, though, who doesn’t like mince pies and so tends to head for the biscuit tin instead. I decided to have a fiddle with my normal cookie recipe to come with something a little more festive.
A while ago Waitrose sent me a cute little gingerbread cookie Christmas tree kit. I’ve done a similar thing before for the Britmums blog last year so I know it can be a bit fiddly, and I kept putting it off. Then last night the oldest decided to have a few mates round so I thought I’d crack out the gingerbread as a surprise.
Well as usual it all went a bit Pete Tong as I went upstairs quickly to do something and didn’t hear the oven timer. The festive chiming of the smoke alarm reminded me that they were still in the oven and I came down to find my little gingerbread stars a bit charred, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you how they tasted!
No matter. I started again with my own easy shortbread recipe, the old faithful 2/4/6:
2oz/50g caster sugar (I use vanilla sugar)
6oz/150g plain flour
Just melt the butter then mix in the sugar and flour to make a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and rest for a little while somewhere cool, then roll out.
The kit gives you a cardboard template for different sized stars (you need two of each size) but I’ve got cutters, which are slightly easier. The stars take literally 10 minutes to bake once you’ve cut them out. Keep checking on them because – ahem – they burn quite easily.
Next, make up some glacé icing (or the kit contains white fondant icing). I made mine lime green with some food colouring paste in ‘lemon/lime’. Ice each star and leave to set. Then just decorate with more icing and little silver balls and copious amounts of glitter (it IS Christmas), then just stack ’em up, rotating each biscuit slightly to get your tree shape.
Ours was a bit wonky (‘the leaning tower of tree-sa’, if you will) but hey, it only lasted about two minutes, so no matter.
Do give it a go, it’s terrific fun and would make a wonderful Christmas tradition to recreate year after year (oh and if you do give it a try, do send me a photo!).
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