Monday, January 4, 2010

Very belated Christmas greetings!

Posted by kel @ sweet treats at 6:52 PM
I've had a hectic couple of weeks, so apologies for the lack of posts recently. Between hosting Christmas at my place, working (no rest for the wicked!) and another relationship break up I have found little time/inclination to bake.

With the arrival of 2010 comes the excitement of a new year. God knows I need a fresh start. So here's to the new year - may it bring you all you wish for. Without further ado I present some sweet treats from the Christmas period.

I always seem to end up in charge of the office Kris Kringle. Though I've had a dramatic career change within the last couple of months I still managed to be the one passing the hat around. I was a little perplexed as to what I could get for my KK - a middle aged gentleman. I decided that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and set about creating some special treats for him.

Gingerbread
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup golden syrup
90g butter
1 tbl ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tbl bi carb soda
500g plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten

Combine sugar, spices, golden syrup and fresh ginger in a pan over low heat, stirring until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add bi carb and stir until fluffy.

Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour eggs into well and gradually add syrup, stirring until mixture is well combined.

Turn out dough into cling wrap, wrap tightly and allow to chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Preheat oven to 180 celsius (160 fan forced) and line baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Roll out dough thinly (about 3-4mm) and cut into desired shapes. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
I packaged them up along with some truffles (recipe to follow) in a gift box for my lucky Kris Kringle recipient.
I decorated mine with royal icing. I have a very sketchy royal icing recipe that I use because I adjust the amount of liquid depending on what I'm doing. But this should get you started:

Royal Icing
1 egg white
1 tsp cream of tartar
500g icing sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
Hot water
Food colouring, optional

Place egg white and cream of tarter in mixing bowl and whisk with electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add lemon juice and icing sugar. Add hot water as required (add it a tablespoon at a time until you get your desired consistency) and add colouring if desired. For piping work it will need to be fairly runny but still be able to hold its shape when piped. For flooding (which I will demonstrate below) you need it a lot more runny so that it spreads easily.

To make flooded designs you firstly need to pipe a border using medium flow royal icing. Medium flow should have the ability to set up but not be too stiff to easily flow through the icing tip. After piping your border, wait for it to set up.
When the border is dry, take some of your flooding royal and spread it within the border. You can use a toothpick or a teaspoon to work the royal into smaller areas. The icing should be runny enough that it moves over the surface easily and doesn't create any lumps/marks when you push it around your cookie.
I decorated the cookies for my KK with contrasting colours and silver cachous, and the ones for my family were decorated in plain white and silver cachous for an elegant twist. My dad's partner is Canadian and I thought she might be missing having a white Christmas, so I made her some snowflakes (even though the idea of snow at Christmas time in Australia is completely proposterous).

The other treats I made for my KK (and for my family for Christmas) were chocolate truffles. These were a huge hit - you just can't stop at one!

Chocolate Truffles

1 packet Arnott's Marie biscuits

3/4 can condensed milk

1/2 cup dessicated coconut

3 tablespoons good cocoa

250g good quality dark chocolate (I used Callebaut 70% Origine)

Using a food processor, crush biscuits until fine crumbs form. Using a wooden spoon, stir through coconut and cocoa, then mix in condensed milk until well combined. The mixture should be very firm, but add a little more condensed milk if more liquid is required. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Roll mixture into teaspoon-sized balls and place on prepared tray.

Melt chocolate either by using the double boiler method or in the microwave. Chocolate purists often warn against using the microwave but as long as you heat it in short bursts and keep stirring the chocolate it will be fine, I promise.

Using a truffle dipper (pictured below) dip each truffle in to the melted chocolate. Tap gently to ensure that excess chocolate drips off, then turn out onto prepared tray. Repeat the process on all the truffles and refrigerate until chocolate is firm.

There are a variety of ways to decorate truffles; you can add non-pareils or sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet, or you can do what I did and drizzle melted chocolate over the top.

I hope that you enjoyed your Christmas and I hope that you and your family have a safe and happy new year.

1 comments on "Very belated Christmas greetings!"

Tab on Thursday, 21 January, 2010 said...

Ah! A truffle dipper. Looks easier than using a metal skewer like I do. Mmmmm. Truffles!

 

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