Just had to share …

… What I baked for Christmas 2014.

I really wanted to baked something for my friends’ Jennie & Joey’s Christmas Jumper Party and I love the original version from the “lakes on a plate” programme but wanted it to make it extra special as Jennie LOVES Christmas so much.  Dried cranberries are still juicy and sweet and seem to me to be very christmassy.  They go perfectly with white chocolate, so there we have it  – THE perfect match.  Perhaps if I do them again I would do them thicker and give them in a better box.  But to me they tasted good and I hope Jennie & Joe enjoyed them.

Crumbly Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortbread
Crumbly Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortbread

Secretly after this I think I went a bit nuts baking but that won’t stop me this Christmas and any other Christmases.  Easy to do were these Ricciarelli – so much so I ended doing 2 batches, one with orange zest and the other just standard.  They are truly moorish and chewy.  They originate from Siena, Italy and are traditionally given as little christmas gifts.  Our little niece loved them!

Ricciarelli
Ricciarelli

Continuing with the Italian them, I made Nigella’s take on Chocolate Salame.  My take added cranberries and extra booze.  It needs to be out the fridge and be allowed to come to room temperature to give its full flavour.  My new favourite for sure.  I’m thinking of doing mini’s for Christmas treat boxes this year!

YUM!
YUM!

As you can see there is another chocolate treat behind it … It’s after-dinner mints.  These have to be up at the top of my list for my all-time favourite sweets.  Not very often these days but I used to go through boxes of these well-known sweets!   Now I can make them.  Ok maybe not the same but it’s homemade and really thick!

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After-Dinner Mints (left) Chocolate Salame (right)

Not only did I surprise my-laws but I surprised myself with this recipe.  Before this attempt I’ve never made a baked cheesecake and was always afraid of what may or may not happen!  The finished result was gone in seconds once I had served it.  They were lots of OOooooos and Mmmmmmmm’s at the table, and was told I could make this again.

Salted Caramel Cheesecake
Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Another recipe everyone enjoyed was the pure desperation of getting everyone to eat the pandoro after many failed attempts of taking it in its box to MIL’s and returning with it!!!  This recipe was relatively easy to do but I feel the fresh pandoro really needs double the custard (homemade btw).  Sorry no piccie.  However, I’ll be doing this with the pannettone as I’m left with this too and will be adding loads more booze and cranberries!!

Lastly, is the mince pies.  I did two different variations – can you tell I was on a baking bender?  I blame TV chefs as they make everything look DELICIOUS and then I want to try EVERYTHING!  Mary Berry’s version was a lovely twist on the generic, whilst one of my favourites was praised also for its crumbly pastry.  This version I usually scream at, as the pastry  takes a bit of time to get it to behave the way I want it, the end result is great as everyone enjoys them!

My attempt at Mary Berrys' Orange mince tart pies
My attempt at Mary Berrys’ Orange mince tart pies
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