Merry Christmas! A few foodie gifts and festive baking

I just adore Christmas, I love everything about it.  The twinkling fairy lights, Christmas movies, the children’s faces when they run in my bedroom in the morning holding up their filled stockings and of course, the food! I know I’m not alone in over indulging around the festive season, after all isn’t that what it’s all about? Eat, drink and be merry!

I really enjoy making edible gifts for friends and family.  Here is what I’ve been making over the past few days…

mini Christmas fruit cakes

Mini fruit cakes for my boy’s teachers.  I really enjoyed making these. I found the recipe for the fruit cake on the lovely Holly Bell’s website right here.

If you are looking for a delicious, moist fruit cake then look no further. The fruit is soaked in a mixture of tea, cherry brandy and ginger wine.  Gorgeous!

vanilla cake

Now ever since I watched Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen a couple of years ago I have lusted over her Nordicware holiday tree pan.  They are very expensive so I couldn’t justify buying one, that was until my lovely husband decided to treat me after finding a reasonably priced one online. When my tin arrived I was so happy I almost jumped for joy! Yes, I do get excited over cake tins. Especially beautiful ones like this! 😉 Here is the recipe for Nigella’s spruced up vanilla cake.

Rocky road

Rocky road crunch bars – there would be a riot in my house if I didn’t make these at Christmas time – everyone loves them and needless to say, they don’t last very long at all! You can find the recipe right here.

mince pies

Mince pies with Baileys pastry – these are delicious and the Baileys adds a lovely kick to the pastry.  I used my own mincemeat recipe in these and I found the Baileys pastry recipe right here on the Pink Whisk’s website.  These will definitely be made again.  So good.

Christmas 2011 - A very sweet end to the year

White chocolate, pecan & cranberry cookies – I just love these cookies and I make them every year.  They look so pretty and festive with the red cranberries. They are very quick to make and are perfect for popping into a festive bag to make a lovely little gift.

White chocolate, pecan & cranberry cookies

150g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
75g rolled oats (not instant)
125g soft butter
75g dark brown sugar
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g dried cranberries
50g pecans, roughly chopped
150g white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180oC/ 350°F/gas mark 4.

Measure out the flour, baking powder, salt and rolled oats into a bowl.
Put the butter and sugars into another bowl and beat together until creamy —  then beat in the egg and vanilla.
Beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and oat mixture and then fold in the cranberries, chopped pecans and chocolate chips.
Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into a ball with your hands, and then place them on a lined or greased baking sheet and squish the dough balls down with a fork. You may need two baking sheets or be prepared to make these in two batches.
Cook for 15 minutes; when ready, the cookies will be tinged a pale gold, but be too soft to lift immediately off the tray, so leave the tray on a cool surface and let them harden for about 5 minutes. Remove with a spatula to cool fully on a wire rack.


Now this is a real treat, sea salt caramels.  The recipe comes from Annie Rigg’s Gift’s from the kitchen, a book I’ve owned for quite some time but I haven’t gotten around to using it very much.  WARNING – these are extremely addictive! One is never enough.  I had to package these up asap otherwise they would have all been in my belly!  There’s still a little time to make these for a home made gift for a loved one..hurry! Your recipient will be most grateful (and so will their dentist, I imagine…) 😉


150G caster sugar
2TBSP water
150g light brown sugar
3TBSP Golden syrup
200ml double cream
1/2-1TSP Sea Salt Flakes (Like Maldon or similar)

Grease a 15-17cm square tin with sunflower oil. (I just lined the tin with baking paper)

Place the 150g caster sugar in a heavy based pan with the 2TBSP water. Set the pan over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and cook until the sugar has turned a deep amber colour. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the remaining ingredients. If you end up with a big sticky lump, don’t worry – just keep stirring! It will smooth out, I promise.

Return the pan to the heat and continue to cook until the caramel reaches 130C/250F on a sugar thermometer. *If you don’t have a sugar thermometer the best way to test if the caramel is at the right temperature is to have a cup of water beside the cooker. Drop a small amount of the caramel into the cup of water. If it forms into a ball, it’s ready**

Remove from the heat, leave to settle for 30 seconds then pour into the tin. Leave until cold then turn out of the tin and break into pieces.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas! xxxxx



5 thoughts on “Merry Christmas! A few foodie gifts and festive baking

  1. I have the Annie Rigg book too and love making caramels but haven’t tried her recipe! I must have skipped it by accident so thanks for the inspiration. Have you tried making her nougat? It’s great.


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