…to post a super lazy blog.
I absolutely adore this time of year, and love the childish excitement, cosiness, noise, and peaceful silence that come with The Holidays. London grinds to a halt on the 25th and the hush is stunning and beautiful – you know that behind so many doors and light-garlanded windows there are folks raising glasses, shredding wrapping paper, fretting over stuffing recipes, watching ‘The Great Escape’, sleeping, playing board games and passing round plates of homemade cookies.
I thought I’d gift you with a few cookie recipes, should you fall into that last category – or should you fall into the stuffing-fretting category: Forget the sprouts and the bird and the fifth attempt to make lump-free gravy, just eat cookies, drink egg nog and watch reruns of Jamie Oliver effortlessly making stuffing whilst up to his elbows in a greased turkey. It’s gratifying. And there’s probably at least one pizza place that’s on the ball and will deliver on Christmas Day.
White Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
- 3 cups Plain flour
- 1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp Ground ginger
- 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp Ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 3/4 cup Unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup Light brown sugar, tightly packed
- 1/2 cup Golden Syrup
- 1 Egg
- 1/4 cup Caster sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup White chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, bicarb of soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the golden syrup, egg and vanilla and beat well.
Gradually beat in the flour mixture until well mixed.
Add the white chocolate chips and mix in gently until evenly distributed.
Press the dough into a thick, flat disk, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 175°C and line a cookie sheet with baking paper.
Shape the dough into one-inch balls and dredge in caster sugar, then place about an inch apart on the prepared baking sheet (they don’t spread much).
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges of cookies just begin to brown.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to five days.
Saffron-Vanilla Bean Cookies
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
- About 30 threads of Saffron (to yield 1/8 teaspoon ground saffron)
- 1/2 Vanilla bean
- 2 tbsps Milk
- 2 cups Plain flour
- 1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
- 113 g Unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup Caster sugar
- 1/2 cup Light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Egg, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
Grind the saffron threads into a powder using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into a small saucepan. Add the vanilla pod, milk and saffron and cook over a very low heat, just until tiny bubbles begin to form at the edges. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for about 10 minutes – the milk should be a gorgeous bright yellow colour.
Sift the flour and baking soda into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter on a low speed until smooth. Add the caster sugar, brown sugar and salt and mix until well-combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on a high speed until light and fluffy.
Remove the vanilla pod from the milk, squeezing any liquid or pulp back into the milk.
In a small bowl, combine the milk mixture, egg and vanilla extract and whisk until well-blended.
Add the egg mixture to the sugar mixture and mix until completely incorporated and very smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and gradually add the flour mixture until completely combined.
Scrape the dough – it will be very sticky – out into an airtight container or onto a piece of cling wrap, shaping into a fat disk and wrapping tightly. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (and up to 5 days).
Preheat the oven to 175°C.
Line a baking sheet with baking paper
Roll 1/4-cup portions of the dough into balls (or use a mechanical ice cream scoop) and place them on the baking sheet at least two inches apart.
Bake for about 16 minutes, until golden but not too dark, rotating the pan half way through.
Let the cookies cool on the pan for 10 minutes before removing.
These are tastiest eaten warm, after they come out of the oven, but they can also be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.
Adapted from Oh Joy
- 4 cups Popped popcorn
- 1/2 cup Caster sugar
- 1/4 Cup water
- 1/4 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
- A pinch of fleur de sel
- 1 tbsp Unsalted butter
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- A handful of nonpareils
Place the popcorn in a large bowl and set aside.
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook on a high heat until the mixture reaches 290F – just under ‘hard crack’ on a candy thermometer.
Add the bicarb of soda and fleur de sel and swirl in until combined.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the butter and vanilla extract and stir until combined.
Pour the mixture over the popcorn and fold together until the sugar mixture coats most of the popcorn.
Immediately sprinkle on the nonpareils and toss until evenly distributed.
Let cool for 10 minutes.
Those were your presents, I hope you like them and I hope you’ll forgive me for the lack of instructional photos – it’s just been the darkest day of the year, which makes daylight hard to come by, and a certain someone was making it very difficult to put things down on the table for more than two seconds.
You may have thought the cookie monster was a blue creature with googly eyes and no lower body…
This is the cookie monster and I like to think he’s imagining himself about to descend on a city of terrified citizens.
I think this time of year brings out the weird in me… Or that’s my excuse anyway.
Huge hugs to anyone else whose family is far away right now (possibly fretting over stuffing while you make cookies), and hugs too to the rest of you, all of you – oi, don’t make me break out the mistletoe.
Two days till sprouts…