The great thing about baking your own Christmas presents is that they always look WAY harder to make than they actually are and, with the right finishing touches (hello treat bags from Lakeland), your gourmet goodies will look totally professional.
Ok, beside that bit of icing that dribbled down the side. But that’s the joy of homemade – no one wants factory perfect.
Between the chocolate Advent calendars, jars of Quality Street and mince pies boxes stacking up in your kitchen, can the festive season get any sweeter? Hell yes, because nothing will give you more brownie points this year than dishing out homemade Christmas food gifts, all lovingly and impressively made by you.
So, if you’re in the mood for baking up a storm, here are our favourite tried-and-tested festive recipes to get busy making ahead of the gift-giving season…
100g salted butter
3 tbsp golden syrup
100g dark muscovado sugar
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
225g plain flour
50g icing sugar
- Heat the butter, syrup and sugar together in a small pan until melted, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Mix together the bicarb, ginger, cinnamon and flour in a large bowl. Pour in the buttery syrup mixture and stir to combine, then use your hands to bring together to form a dough. The dough will be soft at this point, but it’ll firm up in the fridge.
- Put the dough on a sheet of baking parchment, shape into a rectangle, and lay another sheet of parchment on top of it. Roll the dough out to a thickness of ½cm. Transfer to a baking sheet to keep it flat, leaving the parchment in place, then chill in the fridge for 1 hr.
- Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 and line a large baking sheet with more baking parchment. Remove the dough from the fridge and cut out shapes using a cookie cutter. We used 9cm stars, but you can choose any shape. We also made some with smaller stars cut out of the centre to thread ribbon through and hang from a Christmas tree.
- Place the shapes, spread apart, on the lined baking sheet, and bake for 10-12 mins. (Depending on the size of the cutters you use, they might need a few minutes more or less cooking in the oven). Leave to cool completely on the baking sheet.
- Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar with 1-2 tbsp water – you want to create a consistency that’s thick and pipeable, and not too thin or it will run. Decorate the cooled biscuits with the icing using a piping bag with a thin nozzle. Find out how to make a piping bag.
Christmas Chocolate Cookies
250 grams soft butter
150 grams caster sugar
40 grams cocoa powder
300 grams plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
175 grams icing sugar
60 millilitres boiling water (from a kettle)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C Fan/gas mark 3/325ºF and line a baking sheet with Bake-O-Glide or baking parchment.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl and, when you have a light, soft, whipped mixture, beat in the 40g / one-third cup cocoa powder (sieving if it is lumpy) and, when that’s mixed in, beat in the flour with the bicarb and baking powder. Or just put everything in the processor and blitz, if you prefer.
- This mixture is very soft and sticky and I find it easiest to form the biscuits wearing my CSI (disposable vinyl) gloves, so pinch off pieces about the size of a large walnut, roll them into balls, then slightly flatten into fat discs as you place them, well spaced, on your baking sheet; you should get about 12 on at a time.
- Bake each batch for 15 minutes; even though the biscuits won’t feel as if they’ve had enough time, they will continue to cook as they cool. They will look slightly cracked on top, and it’s this cosy, homespun look I love.
- Remove the baking sheet to a cold surface and let it sit for 15 minutes before transferring the biscuits to a wire rack, with a sheet of newspaper under it (to catch drips while topping them).
- To make the topping, put the cocoa powder, icing sugar, water and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and whisk over a low heat until everything’s smoothly combined. Take off the heat for 10 minutes.
- When the biscuits are cool, drizzle each one with a tablespoonful of chocolate glaze – to glue the sprinkles on in a minute – using the back of the spoon to help spread the mixture, though an uneven dribbly look is part of their charm.
- After you’ve iced 6 biscuits, scatter with some of the Christmas sprinkles, and continue thus until all the biscuits are topped. If you ice them all before sprinkling, you will find the cocoa “glue” has dried and the sprinkles won’t stick on.
150g caster sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Line a tray with baking paper.
- Heat the Caster Sugar and golden syrup for three minutes until melted and a deep amber colour.
- Remove from the heat.
- Whisk in the bicarbonate of soda thoroughly. Be quick here, it will bubble up!
- Pour onto baking tray and leave to harden before breaking into pieces.
- Sprinkle on some sea salt and dip in chocolate if you’re feeling fancy
397g Carnation condensed milk
450g demerara sugar
You will also need…
20cm square tin lined with baking parchment
- Place the ingredients into a large non-stick saucepan and melt over a low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
- Bring to a steady boil for 10-15 minutes, stirring continuously and scraping the base of the pan to prevent it from catching.
- The mixture should reach 113-115°C on a sugar thermometer if you have one. If you don’t you can drop a little mixture into a bowl of ice cold water – if it forms a soft, round ball that doesn’t stick to your fingers then it should be ready.
- Remove the fudge from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
- Beat the mixture until it just looses it’s shine and becomes very thick (this should take about 5-10 minutes). The longer you beat once it starts to thicken then the more crumbly the final fudge will be. If you like it smooth – beat it only until comes away from the sides of the pan and sticks well to the spoon.
- Press into the prepared tin with the back of a spoon and leave to set before cutting into squares.
4 tbsp gelatin powder
1 cup water
1tsp vanilla extract
- In your stand mixer bowl, pour in the gelatin and half of the water. Let sit.
- On a low/medium heat on a stove combine the water, salt and honey in a thick bottomed pan and to the soft ball stage (takes about 10min)
- Now turn on your stand mixer on low and slowly trickle in the hot honey mix, keep going until all the honey mix has been combined.
- Now add in the vanilla and put up the mixer to high and beat until the marshmallow mix creates stiff peaks.
- Scoop into a lined tin and pop into the fridge.
- Should set perfectly in about an hour! Now cut into squares and enjoy!