cooking

Making gingerbread with Tinkles

Not so conveniently placed, Tinkles was sitting in front of the pantry this morning inviting the kids to cook with her!

Tinkles sitting in a bowl with baking ingredients nearby

She was helpful by getting out a bowl and spoons, some flour, sugar and food dye, and left a note for the children. She even had two Christmas aprons ready for the children, along with some gingerbread train cutters.

Being a school day, we can’t do the cooking until this afternoon (but it does help fill in the ‘what do we take to the after school party tomorrow?’ question!) Of course, we will have to use a different bowl and spoon as Tinkles is sitting in the bowl! I didn’t realise it straight away, but my son wrote a note to Tinkles in response, too.

invitation to bake from Tinkles

Tinkles asked “Would you like to bake with me? Maybe we could make some biscuits…” and my son responded with “Yes, But I have to go to school and I can’t touch you!”

 

What’s cooking on day twelve in Lego calendars?

collection of images from teh Lego 2016 advent calendars

Oops – I’m a bit late with last night’s advent calendar review so apologies for that 🙂

Anyone hungry? The Friends calendar provided my daughter with an array of cooking utensils – plate, knives and forks, along with a hand mixer, frying pan and spatula. Emma was quickly whipping up dinner for Naomi and the two ice-hockey players from Lego City 🙂

Lego cooking utensils and people

Emma using Lego cooking utensils to provide dinner for friends

Over in Lego City, we’ve got a bit more Christmassy light to enjoy… An old fashioned lamp post (not the same as the one we got in last year’s calendar as this one has two lights and a circular wreath) decorated with a Christmas wreath is pretty and welcoming.

Lego Lamp post with a green wreath

Lamps and a Christmas wreath to decorate the Lego City

Which would you prefer to have discovered behind flap twelve – the cooking things or the lamp post and wreath?

If you missed days ten and eleven nine, they are still available – in fact, every day of our Lego Advent Calendar reviews from 2015 and 2016 are online for you to catch up on at any time!

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.

 

Last minute preparations now underway!

Christmas Eve wrapping gifts, cleaning, cooking & setting tbales

Christmas preparations – wrapping gifts, cooking, setting the table and cleaning.

With only days to go, do you feel ready for Christmas?

Some tasks have to be left to this week (cooking the roast in November or making a cheesecake two weeks ago may spread the workload but I don’t think the results would be quite so good!) but hopefully you feel everything is under control.

For many Australians, today or tomorrow is the last working day of the year so finishing work tasks can overshadow Christmas preparations – which makes for a very busy weekend and Christmas Eve unless you were organised in advance.

Many state school children are only just finishing up the year, too, so it’s a busy week with final reports, clean ups and school concerts, etc.

Coping tips

Obviously, planning ahead is the best tip but it is easier said than done much of the time so if you are running out of days for the mountain of tasks ahead, here are just a couple of ideas I hope will help you (and me to be honest!)

  1. write lists of what still has to be done – not only does this free up your mind, it makes is easier to prioritise and for others to see what needs doing so they can help you
  2. clean floors before moving furniture around – it’s much easier to sweep a clear space than getting in under the chairs and tables. You can then do a quick sweep/vacuum where the furniture was
  3. Christmas cooking bowl and cutters

    Christmas Eve cooking is important

    book some time (even if it is only in your diary or mind!) for important traditions. For instance, no matter how busy I get I will spend time on Christmas Eve cooking with my children so they can leave out a snack for Santa. If that means I set the table after guests arrive or don’t get  to sweep the front verandah, it’s okay as the cooking is once-a-year-special and will be done.

  4. ask for help. Seriously. Don’t be a martyr and do it all yourself. Don’t worry if your kids take 5 times longer to do something than you would – they are still saving you your time (my suggestion is to give them tasks you don’t need done in a particular sequence as that can get frustrating).
  5. be practical – if no one can see your laundry, don’t stress about tidying and cleaning it; if you haven’t made magic reindeer food, get the kids to collect a bucket full of grass for the boomers instead; buy shredded carrots and cabbage to start your coleslaw, a shop cake to create a trifle, etc – you don’t have to cook everything from scratch.

What other tips have you got for these last few days before Christmas?

How do you manage? I think the ideal is to get things done alongside relaxing and enjoying Christmas and family/friends. But would love some tips on how to fit all that in…

 

* Images courtesy of kozzi (get 10 credits when you register via this link)

 

 

 

Share your Christmas story
Instagram