Spiced Chocolate Sugar Cookies

These spiced chocolate sugar cookies are super quick and easy to whip up, leaving plenty of time for more important things, like decorating and eating!

Ingredients (makes approximately 40 cookies)
170g butter, chopped (straight from the fridge)
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups plain flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon ginger powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
Packet of royal icing (I use Queen brand)
Red food dye

Method

Preheat oven to 150ºC fan-forced. Line 2 large trays with baking paper.

Add butter, sugar and vanilla to the large bowl of a stand mixer. Beat butter and sugar on low speed, then turn up to medium until butter and sugar is completely combined. Add egg and beat briefly until egg has been dispersed. Add flour, cocoa, spices and baking powder and mix on low speed until it comes together.

Shape into a large disc and roll out with a rolling pin on a clean surface until it’s at your desired thickness (I like mine around 5-6mm). Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies and carefully transfer them to your prepared trays.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool briefly on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Repeat with the rest of the dough.

For the icing, follow the packet instructions and colour half of the mix red, leaving the remainder white. Transfer into snaplock bags, cut the corner (keep the cut nice and small) and pipe the cookies as desired. Top with mini m&ms, sprinkles or leave plain.

Recipe adapted from The Sweetest Menu’s ‘Chocolate Sugar Cookies’.

Rudolph’s Chocolate & Salted Caramel Tart

The simple addition of red M&Ms, candy eyeballs and pretzel halves turn this family favourite dessert into a Christmas classic. Start this dessert at least 8 hours ahead of serving (I make the caramel the night before).

Ingredients (serves 10-12)
1 x 395g can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Big pinch sea salt flakes
1½ cups plain flour
3 tspns icing sugar
140g cold butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
2 tblspns water
150g dark chocolate melts
½ cup thickened cream
12 red M&Ms
24 candy eyes
12 pretzels, cut in half to look like antlers

Method

To make the caramel filling, put the unopened can of condensed milk into a large saucepan and fill with enough water to just cover the to of the tin. Bring the water to the boil, then turn down the heat until the water is simmering. Keep simmering for 3½ hours, ensuring you top up the water regular so the can is still fully submerged. Allow to cool for 30 mins in the water before carefully removing. Carefully open the can and scrape the caramel into a small bowl. Add vanilla and sea salt flakes to taste.

To make the pastry, put flour, icing sugar, butter, yolk and water into a food processor and process until just come together. Press dough into a ball, knead gently on a floured surface until smooth; cover, refrigerate 30 mins.

Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced. Lightly grease a 24cm flan tin. After resting, roll dough on floured surface until large enough to line the tin. Lift pastry into tin, ease into sides and trim the edge.

Place tin on an oven tray, line pastry with baking paper and fill with pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 15 mins then remove baking paper and weights and bake, uncovered for a further 15-20 mins or until pastry case is golden browned and crisp. Leave to cool.

Once the pastry is completely cool, spoon in the caramel and smooth the top with a silicone spatula. Refrigerate for 30 mins.

To make the chocolate ganache, place the dark chocolate melts and cream in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Stir continuously until the chocolate has melted and the ganache is glossy and smooth. Set aside for a couple of minutes to cool slightly.

Pour the chocolate ganache onto the caramel layer and refrigerate for a further 30 mins to set .

Once set, cut the tart into 10-12 slices. Decorate each slice with a red M&M nose, 2 candy eyes and 2 pretzel antlers. Serve and enjoy!

Tart recipe adapted from Beatrix Bake’s salty dulce de leche, the Australian Women’s Weekly pastry & Donna Hay’s chocolate ganache. Reindeer inspiration from Instagram.

Lemon, Mango & Passionfruit Trifle

This trifle is a cinch to put together and can be made ahead of time but looks amazing – making it the perfect Christmas dessert! Everyone will love the classic summery flavours and textural surprises and there’s no booze, so the whole family can enjoy.

Ingredients (serves 10-12)
2 cups luscious lemon curd (or bought curd if you prefer)
8 passionfruit
600ml thickened cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar
2 tspns vanilla extract
1 vanilla sponge cake, cut into squares (I bought mine, but you could use this recipe to make your own)
900g vanilla custard (I used Paul’s Double Thick Custard in French Vanilla)
2 mangoes (I used Kensington Pride)
1 packet meringue kisses
½ cup coconut flakes

Method

Make the lemon curd and refrigerate until cool.

To make the passionfruit cream, combine cream, vanilla and icing sugar in a large bowl and beat on high speed until very thick. Gently stir through the pulp of 5 passionfruit.

Toast your coconut flakes in a frypan over a medium-high heat until golden brown and fragrant.

Cut up the mangoes into long slices, discarding the skin and pit.

To assemble the trifle, place an even layer of sponge cake squares in the bottom of the dish.

Top with vanilla custard and approximately two-thirds of the mango slices.

Crush approximately 10-12 mini meringue kisses and sprinkle over the top of the mango.

Top with approximately two-thirds of the passionfruit cream mixture and the pulp of an extra passionfruit.

Gently spoon on the lemon curd, taking care not to mix it with the cream.

Allow to set in the fridge.

Just prior to serving, spoon the remaining passionfruit cream onto the curd and then top with remaining mango slices, passionfruit pulp (I left a whole passionfruit) and toasted coconut flakes.

Recipe inspired by delicious. magazine’s ‘Mango Dacquiri Trifle’, December 2022/January 2023 issue.

Chocolate Snowman Puddles

These adorable chocolate snowman puddles are such a fun and simple no-bake Christmas treat. Perfect for making with little ones – you really can’t go wrong!

Ingredients (makes 8)
290g packet white chocolate melts
1 packet mini Reese’s Peanut Butter cups
16 candy eyeballs
1 packet of jubes
1 packet mini M&Ms
1 packet chocolate Pocky sticks

Method

For the snowman’s hat, gently unwrap the mini Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and cut in half

For the snowman’s nose, thinly slice orange jube/s into 8 narrow triangles.

For the snowman’s arms, cut 16 4cm pieces of Pocky sticks, using only the chocolate section.

For the snowman’s buttons, separate out the red, green and brown mini M&Ms and ensure you have enough for 3 buttons per snowman.

Melt the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on medium in 30 second bursts, stirring with a silicone spatula after each burst, until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.

Divide your melted white chocolate into 8 roughly even puddles – 4 per tray.

Working quickly and using the picture as a guide, arrange the peanut butter cup ‘hat’, 2 eyeballs, jube nose, 3 M&M buttons and pocky stick arms on each puddle.

Leave to set at room temperature (or in the fridge if it’s warm). Serve and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Woolworths fresh ideas magazine, December 2022.

Raspberry & Vanilla Trifle

We’ve never really been a trifle family, and the few trifles I’d tried before this one were often disappointing – mushy and bland. We decided we wanted to serve a trifle as a dessert option on Christmas day and so, after a bit of experimenting, I developed this vanilla and raspberry trifle with torched meringue topping. I hope you enjoy as much as I do! For the time poor, I have put in some cheats to make it an easier job.

Start this recipe at least the day ahead.

Ingredients (serves 12-14)
2 packets raspberry jelly
1 cup frozen raspberries

Sponge cake
3 eggs, separated
1 cup caster sugar
½ cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour

OR use 2 round unfilled sponge cakes (Woolworths brand do the job perfectly)

Vanilla custard
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1.2L full cream milk
8 egg yolks
4 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour

OR approximately 1 litre of pre-bought custard (I like Paul’s Double Thick French Vanilla 900g)

Meringue Topping
2 egg whites
⅔ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 punnets of fresh raspberries, to serve

Method

Make the jelly according to packet instructions and pour into a 3L capacity trifle dish. Add frozen raspberries. Put in the fridge to set for at least 6 hours.

To make the sponge cakes, preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced. Grease two 20cm round, shallow tins and line the bases with baking paper.

Use electric beaters to beat the egg yolks, sugar, water, and vanilla for approximately 10 minutes, until very pale and thick. Wash the beaters and then, in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and baking powder until stiff peaks form. Fold the sifted flours into the yolk mixture and then gently mix in the egg whites.

Divide evenly between the tins and bake for 20 minutes or until springy in the centre and the cake has come away from the sides of the tins. Gently turn cakes onto wire cooling racks and leave to cool entirely. Store in an airtight container until required.

To make the custard, add vanilla bean paste and milk to a large saucepan on a medium-low heat and bring to the boil. Immediately remove it from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a very large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour until pale.

Gradually add the warm milk, a tablespoon full at a time, whisking well between each addition. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook gently on a low heat, whisking continuously, for about 20 minutes or until very thick. Leave to cool at room temperature then refrigerate until required.

To assemble the trifle, cut the sponge cake into squares approximately 6cm x 6cm. Add a layer of sponge cake pieces over the set jelly like so:


Top with half of the custard mixture. Place half of the raspberries, evenly spaced, on top of the custard.

Repeat – add a further layer of sponge cake, the remaining custard and top with raspberries. Refrigerate until required.

Just before serving (or up to 3 hours ahead), make the meringue. Whip the eggwhites with electric beaters until they’re light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and a tablespoon of the sugar and beat until combined. Add the remaining sugar, a spoonful at a time, beating between each addition until the sugar has dissolved. Once all of the sugar has been added you should have glossy white, stiff peaks.

Spoon the meringue mixture onto the top. Use a kitchen blowtorch to lightly toast the meringue. Serve and enjoy!

Christmas Light Cookies

These cookies are so easy to make, but look amazing. They’re absolutely perfect as end of year gifts, served on Christmas day or left out for Santa.

Ingredients (makes approx. 50 large round cookies)
250g butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
3 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons mixed spice
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

3 cups icing sugar
Boiling water
Mini M&Ms (cut in half)
Black edible marker

Method

Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Knead gently for 1-2 minutes on a lightly floured bench and then divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160 fan-forced). Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin until you reach your desired thickness (I like mine around 5-6mm) and cut out circles using a large round cookie cutter. Repeat until you have used all the dough.

Place onto a baking tray (they don’t have to be spread out much as they don’t really expand) and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.

When the cookies are cooled, make your icing by adding boiling water gradually to the icing sugar until you have the desired consistency (thin enough to spread easily, but not so thin that it runs off the cookies).

Once the icing has dried, gently draw the string of the Christmas lights with the black marker. Add the halved M&Ms as the ‘lights’ alternating whether they hang from above or below the marker line. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’ on Alice & Lois.com
Decorations inspired by various versions on Pinterest

Melting Snowman Cookies

These lightly spiced Christmas cookies are almost too cute to eat (almost…. sorry Frosty!)

Ingredients (makes approx. 30 large round cookies)
250g butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
3 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons mixed spice
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

3 cups icing sugar
Boiling water
30 white marshmallows
2 packets of mini M&Ms
Edible textas (black and orange)

Method

Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Knead gently for 1-2 minutes on a lightly floured bench and then divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160 fan-forced). Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin until you reach your desired thickness (I like mine around 5-6mm) and cut out circles using a large round cookie cutter. Repeat until you have used all the dough.

Place onto a baking tray (they don’t have to be spread out much as they don’t really expand) and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.

When the cookies are cooled, make your icing by adding boiling water gradually to the icing sugar until you have the desired consistency (thin enough to spread easily, but not so thin that it runs off the cookies).

To decorate, spread icing onto the cookie so it looks like a puddle, attach the white marshmallow to the ‘back’ and 2 M&M buttons. When the icing has dried completely, gently draw on the arms and facial details (my snowmen are surprised, but you can add whatever expressions you like). Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’ on Alice & Lois.com
Decorations inspired by various versions on Pinterest

Santa Hat Cupcakes

Christmas is just around the corner which means one thing…

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….Bailey is being forced into a whole range of ridiculous but adorable costumes :’)

It also means that our kitchen is filled with the delicious scent of Christmas baking – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger are being added to just about everything!

These cupcakes are no exception with a rich Christmas spiced mocha flavour. I’ve topped them with a vibrant red buttercream and a white mini marshmallow to look like Santa hats, but decorate them however you like.

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Ingredients (makes 12)
Christmas Spice Cupcakes
150g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
100g butter, softened
160g brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons sour cream
125ml boiling water
75g dark chocolate
1 teaspoon instant coffee

Frosting
100g butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups icing sugar
Wilton colouring gel in Red
12 white mini marshmallows

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Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan-forced. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with patty pans.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, bicarb and mixed spice. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each, and then beat in a third of the flour mixture followed by a tablespoon of the sour cream, repeating until all used.

Put the water, chocolate and instant coffee in a pan and heat gently until the chocolate melts. Fold this into the cake batter, being careful not to over beat.

Pour the batter into the patty pans and put in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until each cake is cooked through but still dense and damp.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cool, cut the domes off the cupcakes until you have a flat surface.

To make the frosting, cream the butter for 1-2 mins in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add the milk, vanilla and half of the icing sugar and beat for at least 3 mins (until the mixture is light and fluffy). Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 mins or until of a spreadable consistency. Add extra milk if too dry or extra icing sugar if too wet. Add colouring and beat in until combined and the desired colour has been achieved.

Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large, plain nozzle. Pipe frosting onto the cakes in a circular motion from the outside in until it looks like a santa hat. Top with a white mini marshmallow.

Enjoy!

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Cake recipe from Nigella Lawson ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’
Frosting recipe adapted from the ‘Crabapple Cupcake Bakery’ cookbook.

Baileys Waffles with Whipped Cream

My family has a thing for Baileys. It’s our go-to after dessert liquor, holiday staple, and even the name of our dog!

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Our adorable Bailey girl ♥

These waffles celebrate all things Baileys and are the perfect decadent Christmas morning breakfast (or any other breakfast, because every day is worth celebrating, right?!) They would also work well for dessert, perhaps served with chocolate sauce (#cleaneating).

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Waffles (makes 8 large square waffles)
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons white sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 cup milk
1 cup Baileys Irish Cream

Whipped Cream
1 cup thickened cream
¼ cup Baileys Irish Cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons icing sugar

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Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.

Whip the egg whites in a medium bowl with a handheld beater until stiff peaks form.

In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, sugar, oil, milk and Baileys. Pour into the well in the centre of the dry ingredients and mix until there are no more lumps.

Gently fold in the whipped egg whites.

Heat your waffle iron to a medium-high heat and spray generously with cooking oil. Pour the mix into the waffle iron and cook until golden brown. Repeat with remaining mixture.

While the waffles are cooking, make the Baileys whipped cream by beating the cream, Baileys, vanilla and icing sugar with an electric mixer until very thick.

Serve waffles with whipped cream and berries. Enjoy!

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Adapted from Buzzfeed Tasty ‘Bailey’s Waffles’

Pavlova Wreath

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I made this pavlova wreath for a friend’s Christmas in July themed Birthday lunch. It’s a great, light way to finish a meal (perfect after a rich Christmas feast!) and looks festive without being kitsch. It’s great for Christmas Day as you can make and decorate it well ahead of time, giving you more time to focus on the main course and mingle with guests.

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Ingredients (serves 10-12)
6 large free-range egg whites
350g caster sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon cornflour

For the topping
600ml cream
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
½ – 1 tablespoon icing sugar (to taste)
2 punnets of strawberries
⅔ punnet of raspberries
½ punnet of blueberries
½ punnet blackberries
Mint leaves (optional)

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Method
Preheat oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced). Line a large baking tray (or round pizza tray as I used) with baking paper and draw a 30cm circle in the centre.

Whisk egg whites with an electric mixer in a large, clean bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar a little at a time, whisking on maximum speed until stiff and glossy. Once all of the sugar has been added, continue mixing for 10 minutes or until all of the sugar has been dissolved (test this by rubbing the meringue mixture between your fingertips and ensuring it is smooth). Mix the vinegar and cornflour in a cup and stir it into the egg whites.

Spoon dollops of meringue mixture onto the prepared circle on the baking paper as below:5xNnVspLSUuZc9DoPgiObg_thumb_d68

Transfer to the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 140°C (120°C fan-forced). Bake the pavlova for 1 hour–1 ¼ hours, until the outside is hard but still white. Turn the oven off, prop the oven door open with a matchbox and leave the pavlova inside for an hour to cool and dry.

To assemble, whip the cream, vanilla and icing sugar until thickened. Gently spread over the top of the wreath and top with fruit and mint leaves. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Mary Berry’s Christmas Pavlova recipe on BBC Food.

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