Christmas cooking

Double Christmas treats ~ recipe

Delicious Double Christmas Treats

These Double Christmas Treats are made of two layers and taste absolutely divine, ad are surprisingly moist, too.

Looking through Pinterest a few weeks ago, I came across an image which I really liked the look of. It had two layers but looked like a cupcake/muffin – something a bit different, I thought, plus two parts meant I could get my two littlies involved a different stages…

Unfortunately, the image was not linked to a recipe but a sales page for the most over-priced cake mix I’ve ever come across.

So I created my own version, adding Christmassy touches and I am very pleased with the results of this one!

Double Christmas treats

These do take a bit of time, especially if you have little helpers, but are SO worth it!

It would make a lovely Christmas Eve activity with the kids – there’s plenty to sample and still have a nice snack to leave out for Santa 🙂

Child cracking eggs into bowl

My three year old calls herself a ‘good egger’ and enjoyed making these treats…

brownie mix in muffin cases

First layer in some muffin cases, ready for cooking

Adding layer two to Xmas treats

Cover the lower layer with the biscuit mix – this photo shows the top layer on the back row and lower layer only in the front row.

cooked double Christmas treats

Double Christmas treats fresh out of the oven – a light brown top is what you are after.

Ingredients

180 g white chocolate, chopped plus about 100 g for decoration at the end
375g unsalted butter
420g smart sugar (or castor sugar as an alternative)
100g raw sugar
4 eggs
100g macadamia nuts, finely chopped
415g plain flour
1.5 teaspoons orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
150g dried cranberries
1/4 cup mixed dried fruit
food colouring (optional)

Making Christmas double treats

Melt white chocolate and 150g butter.

Once it has cooled a little, mix in 220g (1 cup) smart sugar. Then add 3 eggs and mix well.

Stir in chopped macadamias and 115g (3/4 cup) flour.

Grease large muffin pans – prepare 24 large muffin holes.

Half fill muffin holes with mixture and put aside.

Preheat over to 185°C.

Cream raw sugar, 225g butter and 200g (bit under 1 cup) smart sugar.

Beat in 1 egg.

Mix in orange zest and juice.

Mix in 300g (2.5 generous cups) flour and bicarb soda.

Gently stir in cranberries and dried fruit until mixed throughout the dough.

Add a spoonful of mixture on top of the brownie mix in the muffin tins. You may need to use fingers to spread the biscuit dough evenly.

Place muffin trays into oven for 16 -17 minutes – the biscuit top should be lightly brown all over.

Leave the trays to cool completely before removing from the muffin trays.

Melt remaining white chocolate, add food colouring if you wish, and drizzle over the cooled Double Christmas Treats.

Once the chocolate has set, they’re ready to serve…

Decorated double Christmas treats

I tried a variety of decorating styles on my Double Christmas Treats…

 

Cooking notes…

  1.  If you undercook them, the bottom layer will be very sticky. Simply turn the treats upside down and serve with ice-cream as a pudding!
  2. You can use a skewer to check the treats are cooked – you are looking for crumbs from the lower layer. But be careful crumbs from the top layer don’t mislead – thus watching the time is  better judge.
  3. Finely chopped macadamias gives a lovely chewy, moist texture. A few bigger pieces are ok but it is worth getting them chopped well.

    Finely chopped macadamias

    It took a while to chop the macadamias this fine, but it gives a better result.

  4. To add some green to match the red cranberries, you could swap the mixed dried fruit with pistachios
  5. You could cook this as small slabs and cut into pieces. But given the layers, cooking it as one big slab would probably result in the bottom being undercooked or the top burning.
  6. I used silicone muffin tray and some individual muffin cases – both worked equally well.
  7. I had a little left over biscuit mix so made a few biscuits as well – they take a bit less time to cook though.

 

Whip up a delicious Christmas trifle ~ recipe

One of my husband’s favourite desserts is trifle so I played around with it and made a more Christmassy version. It seemed to work – there was nothing left in the bowl afterwards anyway!

So here’s my recipe…

Love Santa’s Christmas Trifle

Bowl of Christmas trifle

My Christmas trifle, all ready to be served and enjoyed…

  • 1 cake – make it or buy it as suits your time and tastes. Plain, lemon and orange are nice but I used a cinnamon cake to get the Christmas scents involved
  • about a cup of cherries – halve them to remove the pits
  • 4 kiwi fruit – cut into chunks about 2cm cubed
  • a punnet of strawberries – hull and quarter them
  • half a honey-dew melon – cut into chunks of about 3 cm cubed
  • 1 litre of custard – make it brandy custard if you like. It adds to the Christmas flavour and is pretty low alcohol but it’s not for everyone
  • 500 ml (one packet) of set red jelly
  • 500 ml (one packet) of set green jelly
  • 1/3 cup cranberries (dried or halved fresh ones) for garnish
  • 1/3 cup of pistachios for garnish (adds a nice green tinge to the top)

Christmas trifle recipe

1. Cut the cake into pieces – 3 – 4 cm cubes fits nicely on spoons but it can all be rough. A sprinkling of a liqueur over the cake is nice (especially if you use a stale cake like the traditional recipes call for) but optional – brandy, Frangelico or Cointreau are the most Christmassy choices.

2.

making the layers of trifle in a glass bowl

Trifle is made in layers – my beautiful glass bowl doesn’t photograph so well though unfortunately…

Put about half the cake in the bottom of a glass bowl. Does it have to be a glass bowl? Technically, no, it will taste just the same in any type of serving dish but the visual impact will be lost if you can’t see the layers before you serve.

3. Break up the green jelly and put about half of it on top of the cake. Sprinkle half of the fruit over the jelly.

4. Break up the red jelly and put about half of it over the fruit.

5. Pour half the custard over the jelly.

6. Repeat – cake, green jelly, fruit, red jelly, custard.

7. You could top it all with whipped cream (I didn’t as I don’t like it!)

Garnish with pistachios and cranberries. Or make the top layer pieces of jelly as in my photo below – very quick and easy.

Serve immediately or the next day, but keep it in the fridge.

red and green jelly topped Christmas trifle

Red and green jelly on top of the custard is a simple presentation option

Other Christmas trifles

Do you have any other Christmas trifle recipes? Or do you just stick to the traditional type of trifle, whatever the occasion or season?

I came across another recipe, which uses egg nog and glace cherries. Their additional of banana and pineapple would give it a summery taste, I think.

Cheerful and quick salad

Last night we had one of those ‘hmm, what shall we have for dinner?’ nights so I ended up making up a new salad. And it turned out really well – refreshing and tasty, and even Christmas themed!

I just love this salad and plan on taking it to some upcoming BBQs and Christmas functions as it suits the theme (red and green being Christmas colours!), is easy, appeals to many and is very healthy. It’s also nice and moist (without a dressing) which was lovely with our grilled chicken last night.

My kids were fighting over the last serve of it, too…

healthy red and green salad

Colourful, healthy and even the kids will eat this salad!

Easy Christmas salad

chunk of watermelon

1 cucumber

1 stick of celery

2 tomatoes

Chop celery into small pieces.

Chop everything else into chunks.

Mix in a bowl.

Optional – garnish with some chopped mint.

Serve!

Quick Christmas Royal Puddings Recipe

These cute little Christmas Royals look like teeny-tiny Christmas puddings and they are the perfect take-along party plate for busy Mums. They’re a similar concept to the Christmas Anzacs I made last year, but a bit more decadent and fancy-looking.

You can get these made in ten minutes, and they are the sort of ingredients you can have in the cupboard for a while so you can make them at the last minute.

Or let the kids work on them – it will take longer obviously but it’s an easy snack for them to make for Santa.

Christmas Royals

ingredients and equipment to prepare Christmas royal puddings

Ingredients and preparations required to make your Christmas Royal Puddings!

Ingredients:

2x 200g Arnott’s Royals Biscuits
200g white chocolate
1 x 180g Smarties
1 x resealable or freezer bag
spearmint leaves, cut into about 6 slices

 

Method:

Take the biscuits out of the packet and lay them on  board or plate. You can put them straight onto a serving plate if you trust you won’t make a mess (and that could depend on whether you have any little helpers or not!)

Melt white chocolate  – over a pan of water will work but takes time and isn’t suitable with young children. So I just pop them into the microwave for about 70 seconds – test then repeat for 20 second bursts until they are nicely melted.

Pour the melted chocolate into the plastic bag. Snip off the corner of the bag. Of course, if you have a piping bag, just use that! You can drizzle the chocolate from a spoon but it does tend to get messy and takes longer so the chocolate will start to set.

Pipe (or drizzle) chocolate onto the top of each biscuit.

Pop a red smartie on top of the chocolate. Arrange two or three pieces of spearmint leave to be the holly leaves.

Let the chocolate set and serve 🙂

Sprinkle some halved spearmint leaves around the Christmas Royals for a pretty presentation.

Stages of creating some Royal Puddings as a Christmas treat or snack for Santa

Piping chocolate ‘custard’, adding smartie ‘berries’, add spearmint ‘holly leaves’ and putting royal puddings on a plate – an easy recipe!

 

Pink centred Royal Christmas puddings

Pink centres add a little extra!

Sometimes you can get Royals with a pink centre, too, and they are even better when it comes to making a Christmassy treat!

If you can’t get Royals, other chocolate biscuits can work (mint slices are an obvious option) but they don’t stand up as high to look like little Christmas puddings.

 

** You could win $300 worth of Arnott’s free samples to maintain the Arnott’s taste after eating those Royals! Free and fast entry, and you may get an immediate sample, too. **

Savory Christmas treats ~ recipe

Although I am a sweet  tooth myself, it’s easy to forget that Christmas treats can be savory and yummy, too! So here is another toddler friendly Christmas recipe, and one that will be useful as we head into colder weather, too …

Christmas fritters

1/3 cup flour (plain or self-raising is ok)
1/3 cup wholemeal flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated cheese
2 teaspoons of parsley and/or other fresh herbs (coriander and mint are lovely)
1/8 cup squished peas (or beans sliced into small pieces)
1/8 cup grated zucchini (skin on)
1/4 cup finely chopped red capsicum (or use tomatoes without the seeds and juice)
milk (as needed, maybe 2 tablespoons)
oil or butter (for cooking)

Mix everything up to get a stiff batter – adding just enough milk to hold things together.

Heat the pan, add a little oil/butter then drop in balls of the mixture.

When the fritter is bubbling (like pikelets), flip and cook the other side.

Place on paper towel to drain before serving hot or cold.

If you’re feeling creative…

  • make shapes other than circles – a Christmas tree or star would be really cool!
  • join some balls together to form a snowman
  • try some different ingredients, like spinach/silver beet, grated celery, red cabbage, red potatoes or red kidney beans. Of course, if you move away from red and green, there are many other delicious ingredients to add (carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, beetroot, corn, sweet potato…)
  • add a dipping sauce – satay, coriander, chilli are good ones – or a salsa with it for extra flavour and moisture.

This could be a healthier alternative to leave out for Santa, too!

Delicious Christmas flummery – a summer treat!

I remember eating fruit flummery as a child – it was sooo good! Smooth and tasty and cold, my cousins, brother and I ate all we could get our hands on!

It was at all our family occasions in summer, although I don’t actually remember it on Christmas Day…

Most of the time, we ate home-made plum flummery – and I’m going to have to search for that recipe, too. But here is an easier version for the whole family (again, inspired by recipes that are good for toddlers and babies as requested by Vida 🙂 )

Do you have a special dessert memory from your childhood, too?

Red & green Flummery

250 ml (1 cup) unsweetened evaporated milk
1 packet (85 g) red jelly crystals
1 cup of boiling water
2 kiwi fruit
bunch green grapes

Chill the milk for at least an hour.

Mix jelly and water in a bowl then put into fridge until it is about half set.

Pour milk in to a large bowl and whip until light and fluffy.

Keep beating the milk and slowly pour in the half-set jelly until all is blended.

Put into fridge to set.

Slice kiwi fruit and grapes and arrange on top of the set flummery to serve.

Lots of red cherries on top instead of the kiwi and grapes is delicious, too, if you are happy with a red dessert instead of red and green!

Fruit smoothies

green smoothie with red cherry - perfect for Christmas!Just for fun, make some Christmas themed fruit smoothies 🙂

Made cold, they can be very refreshing (and are a lot healthier than soft drinks and energy drinks!) and I’d prefer one to an eggnog any day 🙂

It can even be a nice drink to leave out for Santa – although if it is a warm night, maybe leave it in the fridge with a note to tell Santa to help himself!

If making one for a baby or toddler, it can effectively be their meal and you can add a bit of formula powder to add nutrients if you feel the need (personally, I think adding some banana is enough to give then plenty of vitamins and minerals).

A Christmas fruit smoothie

2 bananas
6 – 12 strawberries
2 kiwi fruit
sprinkle of cinnamon
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yoghurt (fruit yoghurt tastes nice but adds sugar)
500 ml milk

Quick version:

Put everything into a jug and use a blender to mash and mix it up.

Pour into two cups (or more smaller serves for kids) and drink.

Christmas version:

Put bananas, yoghurt, cinnamon and milk into a jug and blend.

Add strawberries and kiwi fruit blend on a low-speed but leave some small pieces of fruit ( to show the Christmassy red and green 🙂 ).

Pour into cups and serve.

Make an easy, edible Christmas decoration

Want an easy way to make a cake or cup cakes or dessert platter or whatever look really special?

Simply heat up a candy cane (buy them in whatever size suits the decoration you’re after – they range from tiny to huge!) and gently bend it into a shape to suit.

Adding more of a swirl than the traditional cane shape is more compact so it works better on some designs I find – the long cane just doesn’t fit in and looks stark so this is a nice option.

Christmas jelly – not just for babies and toddlers…

Continuing on with the request for some Christmas recipes the very young can enjoy, here is another one that’s pretty easy to make. It is well suited to an Australian Christmas, but I think it can be eaten alongside a hot Christmas pudding and apple pie, too!

Christmas jelly

200 ml hot water
4 teaspoons gelatine
100ml red fruit juice
100ml green fruit juice
1 – 2 tablespoons chopped cherries or strawberries
1-2 tablespoons sliced grapes or kiwi fruit pieces

Dissolve 2 teaspoons of gelatine in 100ml hot water.

Stir into the red fruit juice.

Pour into a small bow or jelly mould. Add the grapes or kiwi fruit.

Put into the fridge to set.

Dissolve 2 teaspoons of gelatine in 100ml hot water.

Stir into the green fruit juice.

Pour into a small bow or jelly mould. Add the cherries/strawberries.

Put into the fridge to set.

Serve together, tipped onto a plate or straight into bowls.

In total, this makes about one metric cup of jelly which is a side serve for about two people or a few days’ supply for a baby or young toddler.

Notes:

  1. juicing the fruit yourself is a much healthier option, but bottled juice works. Red juice can be cranberry or mix apple with raspberries, cherries and strawberries. Green juice can be made from kiwi fruit, apple and celery together, green grapes or a combination.
  2. you can of course use packets of jelly instead of gelatine and fruit juice but it has a lot more sugar and less satisfaction!
  3. stand your jelly bowl in a hot water for 30 – 60 seconds to make it easier to tip out once it’s set

 

Have you ever made your own jelly?

Surprised to find it is this easy? I know I was when I made it for my first baby – it’s such as easy thing to feed them but I didn’t want the sugar and additives of the commercial jelly.

Have you ever left a bowl of jelly out for Santa? I haven’t but it’s not a bad idea, especially if it’s hot on Christmas Eve!

Toddler’s Christmas dessert

This is a variation of a simple dessert I have made for all my kids while they were toddlers – and they all still love it actually!

Vida_Ilevares – I hope your toddler enjoys this one 🙂

This quantity is feeds a toddler and an adult or two small adult serves. For older people, I’d probably count this recipe as suitable for 1 adult or 2 kids as a dessert so multiply it as required!

Baked Christmas Custard

red and green fruit with baked custard for dessert

Green grapes, red cherries and baked custard – healthy and yummy!

1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 egg
2 drops vanilla essence
cinnamon
1 or 2 tablespoon dried cranberries {or  use 6 – 10 fresh cherries, pitted and sliced}
6 – 10 grapes, pitted and sliced

Put the milk in a microwave proof bowl and cook for 1 minute on high – if you can’t see tiny bubbles around the edge, try another 5 -10 seconds. You don’t want the milk to boil.

Whisk the sugar and essence with the egg.

Pour a little of the hot milk in with the egg and mix.

Pour egg mix into milk bowl, stirring as you go. Mix in the dried cranberries.

Sprinkle with some cinnamon (I use nutmeg most of the year, but cinnamon is more Christmassy!)

Cook on a medium setting for 2 minutes.

If not set, cook for another 30 seconds.

Serve in a bowl with sliced grapes (and cherries if you use them). Obviously, cut the fruit to a size suitable for the age of your child – halving them is enough for older kids.

My two and four-year olds love watching the custard change from runny to set so I let them help by sprinkling on the cinnamon, adding the cranberries and serving the fruit – the rest is a bit tricky for little people.

A vegan Christmas roast recipe

For anyone on a vegan diet or just after something tasty and different (and probably cheaper) for Christmas lunch, I wanted to share this nut roast recipe.

Nut and lentil roast

(serves 6)

1 cup ground peanuts
1/2 cup ground cashews or macadamias (for a real Christmas touch I’m going to try chestnuts this year!)
1.5 cups cooked lentils
3 finely chopped onions
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 small capsicum, finely chopped
2 large carrots, grated
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups wholemeal breadcrumbs (allow up to another 0.5 cup if mixture is too wet)
1.5 tsp each cumin and caraway seeds
2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp chopped coriander (or 2 tsp powdered)
1.5 tbsp cornflour mixed to a paste with water

Saute onions, celery, garlic and capsicum with carrot.

Add spices and stir until fragrant

Mix in remaining ingredients

Put in an oiled loaf tin and press down

Bake in pre-heated oven at about 180 for 45 – 60 minutes until top is brown

 

Slice and drizzle with cranberry sauce for Christmas colour – it’s also nice cold so can go to a BBQ or be cooked in advance if oven space is tight.

Easy-in-advance-lasagne recipe

If you need to take a dish to a Christmas function, but know you won’t have time to cook anything at the time, why not cook it sooner and freeze it? Then just pull it out of the freezer in time for the event – a great back up for unexpected visitors over the holiday season, too. This is an easy to make lasagne that freezes nicely…

Easy, prepare-in-advance lasagne

2kg mince meat plus 2 large jars of prepared sauce and 1 large tin tomato puree*
4kg cheese – a combination of two works well, especially if one is mozzarella for the stringy effect!
2kg penne, ziti or other tube pasta

make a layer of meat sauce

cover with pasta

cover with cheese

cover with sauce

repeat until the pan is full and/or you run out of ingredients, but make sure cheese is the top layer. Wrap tightly and freeze.

Bake at 180 C for about 30 minutes, plus 5 minutes uncovered – longer if cooking from frozen.

* If you have time, add chopped vegies into the sauce for more flavour and to make it a complete meal when serving it.

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