edible gift

Christmas banana cake – to eat or gift!

As much as my family loves bananas, we seem to get soft black bananas sitting in the fruit bowl way too often. So a good banana cake recipe is a must!

This recipe is a mix of some other recipes with my own Christmassy touches.

Banana cakes wrapped as Christmas gifts

Simple but effective presentation of a yummy Christmas gift!

It takes a while to cook but is moist and yummy, and suitable for making into gifts, serving for Santa or simply eating!

Making it as small loaves and wrapping it in red and/or green cellophane is a nice gift idea for hostesses, teachers, leaders and others you want to say thanks to. You can also make it as muffins and roughly half the cooking time, but I don’t think muffins look quite as nice as a gift.

Love Santa’s Christmas Banana Cake Recipe

3 eggs
5 large bananas – the riper the better!
3/4 cup of vegetable oil
2 cups white self-raising flour
1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1.5 cups raw sugar (I use 1 cup smart raw sugar to reduce the GI)
0.5 teaspoon of nutmeg
1.5 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 cup cherries (I use jarred cherries but you could use a tin) – cut in halves
4 tablespoons cherry juice (from the jar! Otherwise use cranberry or orange juice)

Preparing a Christmas banana cake

My son loves making sure the mixture is evenly spread out in the pan!

Beat the eggs together

Add the bananas – many recipes will tell you to add the mashed bananas but to save myself washing an extra dish and because the kids find it fun this way, I put pieces of banana in with the egg and mash in that bowl.

Mix in the oil and juice.

Add flours, spices and sugar and make sure everything is well mixed.

Stir in the fruit and nuts

Pour into your greased cooking pan(s).

Cook for about an hour at 160°C

Cool on a tray and voila!

 

Christmas banana cake

Moist cherry pieces add a nice surprise to this Christmas banana cake.

 A couple of notes…

You can use any nuts you like – 3/4 cup chopped nuts of any type will work. I just happened on the almond/pecan mix because it’s all I had in the cupboard one day when I made this cake! Pistachios could be an interesting alternative I think – or chestnuts may add an authentic Christmas taste for people in the Northern hemisphere!

If you don’t have wholemeal self-raising flour, you can use white. I prefer to use a mixture because it is healthier to have wholemeal but gets too heavy if you didn’t use some white flour.

If cooking with young kids, I strongly suggest chopping the nuts and cherries before you call them into the kitchen – they get bored if they have to wait!

Christmas rocky road recipe

Last Christmas, I changed a rocky road recipe a bit to make it more Christmassy – but there’s no reason you can’t eat it any other time of the year 🙂 And if you make and eat it in winter, there’s less of an issue with melting, too!

Simple enough for kids to make, too.

Christmas rocky road

160g dark chocolate
100g mini marshmallows
1/4 cup cranberries
1/4 cup nuts (I like cashews but peanuts give a stronger flavour)
1/4 cup green smarties, crushed into pieces

Melt the chocolate.

Stir in the marshmallows, nuts and cranberries.

Pour into a lined pan.

Sprinkle crushed smarties on top.

Put in fridge to set.

Cut or break into pieces and enjoy!

Note adding smarties to the melted chocolate tastes ok but the smarties melt a bit so you don’t get as good result visually.

Christmas road fudge recipe

Gift box of Christmas road fudge

In a box ready to be given as a Christmas gift.

Christmas fudge – very yummy and sweet, makes a lovely after dinner treat, a pretty Christmas gift or just something fun to make with the kids!

I made this as a combination of fudge and rocky road, with more of a Christmas theme.

It’s rich and yummy – and I think Santa will enjoy eating it on Christmas Eve at our house next year! It is also a good idea for gifts although you may have to fight off kids in order to get it wrapped rather than eaten 🙂

Christmas Road fudge…

2 tablespoons butter
360g milk or dark chocolate pieces
395g tin of sweetened condensed milk
100g mini marshmallows (big ones if you must but there’s no point in cutting big ones into mini marshmallows as they get sticky and clump!)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup roughly chopped cashews
1/3 cup roughly chopped macadamias
35 spearmint leaves, roughly chopped

Melt the butter, chocolate with the condensed milk – takes 4 or 5 40 second bursts in my microwave.

Sir in the nuts, marshmallows, cranberries and lollies.

Pour into  a grease-proof paper lined pan (mine is about 30 x 25 cm).

Put tray in fridge until it sets – at least a few hours.

Cut into squares to serve. store or wrap as gifts.

Note on a hot day, you may want to pop it in the freezer for a while before handling it so it is less sticky and easier to pack nicely.

The spearmint leaves are a surprising taste and texture every time you bite into one – I love it! However, you could try green jelly babies instead to get the colour and texture without such a strong flavour.

Anyone for tea?

I came across this recipe and enjoyed the flavour so much I am making packets of it as Christmas gifts. And my kids are making some this weekend to give their teachers and activity leaders as gifts, too.

Spicy orange tea

2 cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces
14 whole cloves
3 tablespoons dried orange peel (I dehydrated my own after the kids ate a pile of oranges!)
10 whole black peppercorns
11 tablespoons loose black tea leaves (You could try green tea, too, or mix them together)

Put it all together in an air tight container

Leave it for a week

Boil some water

put one spoon of tea mix per person into teapot

add appropriate amount of water

steep for 2 – 5 minutes

pour into cups and enjoy!

 

Remember to label the packets you give as gifts, including instructions of use. Kids can decorate the labels to make them personal and unique gifts.

Maybe leave some out ready for Santa to have a nice cup (as long as he’s willing to boil the kettle himself!) while he puts presents into stockings for you!

Making vanilla wreaths as teacher’s gifts

I like getting my children to give gifts to teachers, etc – and I prefer them to be involved in the gifts somehow. I’m also conscious that most teachers probably get too many candles and soaps as it is.

So last year, my kids make some vanilla wreaths and balls for their teachers – the recipe below made about 30 of each which we shared between 9 paper plates and wrapped in cellophane, tied with red ribbon and given as gifts the next day.

Before you assume 9 teachers is a lot, I included one for each of my children’s class and instrument teachers, plus the lollypop lady, school librarian and the school cleaner (an under appreciated man!)

Here’s what I did…

Ingredients

250g butter, softened

145g smart sugar (or 290g castor sugar)*

2 eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

1 teaspoon baking powder

600g plain flour

PLUS

About 320g smart icing sugar *

6 – 8 tablespoons fresh orange juice (the bottled stuff is too sweet for my liking)

15 mint leaves (the lolly variety!)

About 90 red smarties or equivalent lolly (useful if you’re used to eating the red ones last! Sorry, old ad jingles stick in my head!)

Packet of 100s and 1000s or mini lollies of some sort

Method

Cream butter and sugar

Add eggs and vanilla; combine well

Add flour and baking powder; mix into a dough

Roll out dough to about 5mm thick – it’s a bit sticky so I use sheets of baking paper on either side. I also do it in batches as there’s a lot of dough!

Cut out large circles – circle biscuit cutter or a mug will do the trick

Cut a smaller circle out of each biscuit – use a smaller circle cutter or a glass

Put the rings (wreaths) and circles (Christmas balls) ont greased or lined biscuit trays

Put full trays into the fridge while you continue rolling and cutting and all dough is used up (rework the scraps back in each time)

Place trays in pre-heated 180° oven for 8 – 10 minutes – biscuits should be a lightly golden-brown on the top

Cool for about 5 minutes before removing from the trays onto a wire rack

When completely cool, decorate as wreaths or Christmas balls.

Vanilla Wreaths

Slice the mint leaves through the middle (so they become thinner but have the same shape as they started with)

Mix the icing sugar and orange juice in batches

Ice the top of the wreaths – I let it drip down the sides but you could ice the sides properly if you wanted to

Stick two leaf halves onto the biscuit to form the holly leaves

Dab some left over icing onto 3 smarties and stick them onto the leaves as holly berries – repeat for the other biscuits!

Christmas balls

Mix the icing sugar with some orange juice and a drop or red or green food colouring. If you have time, it’s really nice to use two colours, but one or none will work fine!

Spread icing onto the smaller circle biscuits – making some half red and half green is fun

Sprinkle 100s and 1000s over the top

 

 

* I tend to use smart sugar for everything now – you need half as much so the food is lower GI and it’s made from Australian cane sugar. If you can’t get it, castor sugar or normal icing sugar works just as well.

Nougat Noelle

Another yummy treat we make as inexpensive gifts (put it with the Chrissie caramels in celophane packages – pretty & decadent!) Enjoy!

3 egg whites
3.75 cups white sugar
0.75 cups light corn syrup
150g glace cherries (mix of red & green is ideal for a Christmas look & feel)
2 tsp essence (I love vanilla but my husband prefers peppermint – take your pick!)

Line 2 baking trays with non stick baking paper

Chop up the glace cherries (a very sticky job, but hey!)

Put sugar, corn syrup & water in jug (no lid or cover). Cook in microwave on high for 5 minutes or a bit longer – stirring every minute – til mixture is boiling & sugar has completely dissolved.

Cook for another 5 minutes then check every 30 seconds (take it out of microwave & use a warm sugar thermometer) until syrup reaches 125 C .

Beat egg whites to soft peaks (Did you know this is easier with free range. fresh eggs than horrid cage eggs from shops?)

Slowly pour syrup onto eggs, beating continuously.

Mix in the cherries & essence, and beat until nougat looses shine.

Drop  onto tray by the teaspoonful. Leave to set.

leave your thermometer in warm water to keep  it warm between tests. If you don’t have a thermomoeter (or you manage to break it like I did last Christmas)  drop a little syrup into very cold water as a test – its ready when it forms a firm supple ball.

Add pistachios or slivered almonds for a nutty addition.

Chrissie Caramels

These are yummy – I have to admit I make double batch now as we ‘test’ so many of them we don’t have a lot left to package as gifts let alone leave out for Santa…

45g butter (or marg if you must)

750g soft caramels

3 tablespoons low fat milk

2 cups of unsalted cashews

1 cup unsalted walnuts or almonds

Put the caramels, butter & milk in the microwave (well in a bowl then in the microwave!) and heat on high for 1 minute then stir.

Heat for another minute & stir.

Heat for another minute & stir (see the pattern yet?!)

Mixture should now be smooth – if not, heat for another 30 – 6 seconds and stir.

Stir in the nuts until they’re covered in caramel.

Line a baking tray (foil, baking paper, whatever) then drop teaspoonful of the mix onto the tray.

Once it’s set, drizzle some melted chocolate over the top. If I have time, I use white & brown chocolate for an even nicer effect, but one chocolate or none works well too.

Store in an airtight container if you can resist eating them! Oh, and you can use other sorts of nuts or even mixed nuts if you prefer (mixed nuts makes it a bit cheaper if you’re on a budget but it’s a pretty cheap gift anyway.)

Chocolate Christmas Trees

Takes about 50 miniutes ot make, but they look so cool!

Ingrediants:

250 g plain sweet biscuits
2 tbsp cocoa
1 cup desicated coconut
150 – 200g white chocolate for decoration.
150g dark chocolate pieces, hundreds & thousands, or choc sprinkles for decoration as well.

Method:

combine buicuit crumbs with cocoa!

 Now add your cocoanut and sweet condensed milk.

Put cling wrap on them and put in fridge for 20-25 minutes

than shape them into fir tree shapes (cones really)

Now drissle melted white choclate  all  over(as your tinsel) and decorate with your delicous hundreads and thousands or choclate sprinkles (as your other decorations on your tree).

if you have some star stickers or icing shapes, put one on each tree to finish it off.

Ummmmmmmmmm,a quick,yummy and fun activity to do with your kids – maybe give as presents, too.  The trees, not the kids!)

Christmas Trees to eat!

These are a yummy snack for Santa but can also be wrapped to make a nice gift 🙂

ingredients

250g butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cornflour or custard powder
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon milk
200 g milk chocolate
100g white chocolate
round lollies (e.g. mini marshmallows, mini smarties)
icypole sticks (at least 12)

instructions

  1. cream butter, sugar & vanilla
  2. add egg
  3. mix well
  4. add cocoa, flours & milk
  5. mix well
  6. wrap mix in plastic and cool for at least 30 minutes
  7. cut out 24 Christmas tree (or other biscuit cutter shapes always even number of each shape)
  8. put in 180 C over for 15 minutes
  9. cool on tray
  10. spread melted milk chocolate on biscuits
  11. press icy pole stick in chocolate
  12. place matching shape biscuit on top
  13. let chocolate set in fridge
  14. melt white chocolate
  15. use piping bag or paint brush to create chocolate ‘garlands’ on trees
  16. use lollies to create Christmas balls on trees
  17. allow chocolate to set before storing or wrapping

* Makes about a dozen trees if you have a 12cm long biscuit cutter. Will make more or less depending on your biscuit cutter.

* It’s fun to make different Christmas shapes and give a couple together as a gift…

Individual Christmas cakes

Every year, my Mum would do something special for those around us – school teachers, guide leaders, postman, etc – and one year she made individual Christmas cakes.

She bought Christmas cakes from the supermarket, those square fruit cakes, and cut them into quarters to make 4 cakes. She put each cake on a piece of strong cardboard covered in foil. We then iced them with Royal icing (the white icing on wedding cakes). On some of them we decorated the icing with icing tools to put patterns around the top.

She then got us to roll out the scraps of icing and cut out holly leaves with mini cutters. These we painted green with food colouring. We also made little balls to be holly berries and painted these red.

We decorated the tops of the cakes with the holly berries and leaves and Mum piped “Merry Christmas” on the top in white icing. We then painted the letters with gold.

To complete the gifts, we wrapped them in clear cellophane tied up with red and green curling ribbon.

They looked fantastic and were well received by everyone.

Tiny Christmas puddings

I saw those individual puddings a number of times – they look so impressive and taste yum too.

I didn’t have time to find a cake recipe and cook it up so I found a different way to make them 🙂

So, buy a lovely moist fruit cake.

Cut it into small pieces (like about 2cm by 2cm) – make them round if you have a circle cutter. If you have a little more time, roll the pieces between your fingers to make little balls of cake.

Mix some yoghurt with icing sugar. Dob some of this mix on top of each cake piece.

Chop up some glace cherries or ginger. Add a piece or three on top of each pudding.

Let it set then serve for Santa, unexpected guests or even wrap as Christmas gifts. And you can still call them home made 🙂

Kouramiedes (Greek Christmas biscuits)

A Greek friend gave me this recipe – they’re very yummy 🙂

Kouramiedes

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees CMaking a snack for Santa and presenting it nicely

Beat 0.5 cups of room temperature butter ( which is about 115 grams or 8 Tablespoons)

Add 0.5 cup icing sugar and cream them (that is, mix them until they are pale yellow and fluffy)

Add 1 egg yolk, 0.5 teaspoon of vanilla essence and 1 Tablespoon of brandy or an orange liqueur.

Add 0.5 cup of finely chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds traditionally)

Add 0.5 teaspoon of baking powder to 2.5 cups of flour, then mix in with nut butter

Knead the dough then chill for a few hours – preferably overnight.

Make balls of dough and place on a biscuit tray (you don’t need to grease the tray) with a bit of space in between (4 to 5 cm)

Push a clove into each biscuit.

Bake for 15 or so minutes so the biscuits are light brown.

Roll in icing sugar while they are still warm.

They last well if stored in air tight containers.

**The outside sugar makes them a little messy to eat but that’s half the fun – and Santa won’t notice through his beard 🙂

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