It is a glorious day in the Eastern Bay of Plenty and I am in my kitchen making Christmas treats to share. Today on the menu are Peppermint Chocolate Bark and Gingerbread Biscuits– I cannot begin to explain how amazing my kitchen smells right now! A warm welcome to the new readers of this column – thank you for stopping in.
As we come closer to Christmas I find myself thinking about the act of giving. People give for their own reasons and there are a lot of things that influence the decisions they make; it is easy to lose perspective with so much pressure from advertising, peer pressure and the expectations of others.
This year in our home we are having a “back to basics” Christmas with a rule of hand-made, home-grown or recycled gifts. Taking the commercialism away from the day is a good way to remind everyone what giving is really about – and no scary bills to start 2015 with.
Today I am sharing two recipes with you, both of which can be made today and will still taste beautiful on Christmas Day. The bark will require you to temper some chocolate, but I will share with you the easiest method to do that.
Next week will be the last in the series of Christmas treats and then we will be back to wild and harvested food.
Kia makona, Mawera Karetai x
Peppermint Christmas Bark
2 x 250gm bars of white chocolate (not chocolate melts)
2 x 250gm bars of dark chocolate (not chocolate melts)
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy canes
- Line a 9x12 pan with good quality baking paper (cheap baking paper will stick to your chocolate).
- Unwrap the candy canes of your choice and heavy duty bag. Using a meat tenderizer, or a metal rolling pin – smash them into pieces.
- To temper your chocolate break into pieces. Melt 2/3rds of the dark chocolate (use the method you prefer, either double boiler, or microwave), stirring until perfectly smooth. Once melted remove from heat and add in remaining 1/3rd and continue stirring until smooth.
- Pour the melted dark chocolate on the baking paper, spread the chocolate out evenly over the tray. You can do this by lifting and dropping the pan on the countertop repeatedly, or you could use a spatula to spread the chocolate. Allow
- Melt the white chocolate, using the steps above. After the chocolate is smooth, pour it on top of the dark chocolate - trying to make the layers the same thickness. (it's best to do this while the dark chocolate is still very soft but has started to set – the layers can separate when you break them if the bottom layer is too firm when you apply the top layer)
- While the white chocolate is still melted sprinkle the candy cane pieces on top.
- Let the chocolates harden in the refrigerator for 2 hours, then break into pieces.
- Place pieces in a cellophane bag, tie off with a ribbon and serve with pride in a job well done.
150g butter, softened
¼ packed cup soft brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp boiling water
2¼ cups flour
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 egg white
2 cups icing sugar, sifted,
- Preheat oven to 150C. Line 2 oven trays with quality baking paper.
- Beat together butter, sugar and golden syrup until pale and creamy. Mix baking soda with boiling water and add to butter mixture with flour, ginger, cinnamon and allspice. Stir to combine into pliable dough. You can refrigerate or freeze this dough for later use.
- Divide dough in half. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece to ½ cm. If your dough is sticky, you can dust with flour to make it easier to roll – but use very sparingly).
- Using cookie cutter, cut dough into desired shapes. Carefully place on lined baking trays, allowing a little space between biscuits for spreading. Combine unused dough and repeat process.
- Bake until just starting to change colour (usually around 15 minutes). Remove from oven and cool on the trays. Store in an airtight container until ready to ice.
- Ice your biscuits with Royal Icing up to 5 days before serving. make Royal Icing, gently beat the egg white until slightly airy. Add sifted icing sugar and beat for 10 minutes. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe decorations onto cookies. If your icing is too thick you may a water a drop at a time. If it is too thin, slowly add icing sugar to achieve the desired consistency. You may colour your icing using food colours for more elaborate decorations.
- Allow to set. If desired, dust cookies lightly with icing sugar before serving.
- Place biscuits in a cellophane bag, tie off with a ribbon and serve with pride in a job well done.