Bitter chocolate tart (above)
The perfect finish to a festive meal, this luscious, mousse-like tart is best eaten just warm or at room temperature.
Plain flour, for dusting
300g all butter shortcrust pastry
2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk,
100 whole milk
225ml double cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
200g dark chocolate (70%)
100g good-quality milk chocolate
Large pinch of salt
Cocoa powder, for dusting
Lightly dust the worksurface with flour. Roll out the pastry to a disc, about 3mm thick, and use to line a 23cm tart tin. Trim off excess pastry, prick the base and chill for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4.
Line the pastry shell with slightly scrunched baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 15 minutes, until crisp and pale golden. Remove the parchment and beans, then brush the pastry with beaten egg and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 150°C, gas mark 2.
Meanwhile, heat the milk, cream and sugar in a pan over a gentle heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Just before simmering point, remove from the heat and add the chocolate, broken into pieces. Add the salt and stir gently until the chocolate has melted.
Add the eggs and stir until well incorporated and the mixture looks glossy. Spoon into the pastry shell and bake for 18-20 minutes, until just set. Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes, then dust with cocoa powder to serve.
Snowflake jam sandwich biscuits
These delicious biscuits require a bit of effort, but the results are beautiful. Make them in a variety of sizes, filled with different types of jam, such as ginger and red plum.
Makes 20 sandwiched biscuits
175g unsalted butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
425g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp fine salt
3 tbsp each ginger jam and red plum jam
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Tip into the wet ingredients and combine with a spatula to form a soft dough.
Divide the dough into two and shape each half into a disc. Wrap inclingfilmand chill for 1 hour or up to 3 days to firm up. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Line two large baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
Dust a work surface generously with flour. Take one disc of dough and cut it in half. Keep all the remaining dough in the fridge. Roll the first quarter out to a thickness of about 1/2cm. Using a plain round, 7 ½ cm (3in) biscuit cutter, stamp out circles, dipping the cutter in flour to stop it sticking. Carefully transfer the biscuits to the baking trays with a palette knife, leaving space between them to allow for a little spreading.
Using a 5cm snowflake-shaped biscuit cutter dipped in flour, stamp out snowflakes in the centre of half the rounds. Repeat with the remaining dough to make about 40 biscuits, 20 whole and 20 stamped-out with snowflakes.Bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden.
Let cool and firm up on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks and cool completely.Spoon a scant teaspoon of jam of your choice over the centre of the whole biscuits, spreading it out evenly. Top with the stamped-out tops, pressing down gently so the biscuit doesn’t snap or crumble, and dust with a little sieved icing sugar to finish.
The filled biscuits will keep for up to 3 days, kept in a cool place in an airtight container, or may be frozen for up to 3 months.
Greek Christmas biscuits
Makes about 25
425g unbleached plain flour
160g fine ground semolina
60g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
Grated zest of 1 lemon and
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
200ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
200ml fresh orange juice
For the honey syrup
200g caster sugar
2 nutmegs, well crushed
1 strip of orange peel
1 strip of lemon peel
For the topping
100g finely chopped
walnuts mixed with
2 tsp ground cloves
Combine the flour, semolina, sugar, baking powder, zests, cinnamon and ground cloves in a mixing bowl or food processor. Add the olive oil, orange juice and brandy and mix to a stiff dough. Cover and leave for 30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven 180°C, gas mark 4. Lightly grease 2 baking trays with oil. Shape the dough into ovals about 5cm long and place on the trays. Bake for 25 minutes (in two batches, if necessary) until lightly browned. Transfer to a rack and leave to cool. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, honey, nutmegs and citrus peels with 400ml cold water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Strain the syrup into a bowl. Briefly submerge each biscuit in the syrup then transfer to non-stick parchment. Top with the walnut and clove mixture and leave to dry. Store in a single layer in airtight containers until ready to serve.
Sugar and spice puddings with rum and raisin ice cream
This is a great way to use up leftover Christmas pudding. Look for decorative toppers at baking shops.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
75g butter, melted, plus a little unmelted to grease the tin
4 tbsp sherry
250g plain flour, plus extra to dust the tin
4 tsp baking
2 tsp ground mixed spice
150g light muscovado sugar
300g Christmas pudding, crumbled
1 litre rum and raisin ice cream
Star toppers and edible gold dust
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Lightly butter the insides of dariole moulds or a muffin tin, then dust with flour and tap to remove the excess. Combine the eggs, milk, butter and sherry in a mixing bowl. Stir in the flour, baking powder, spice, sugar and crumbled Christmas pudding to make a soft batter. Spoon the mixture into the dariole moulds or muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes, until well risen and firm. Cool a little before turning out. Serve the puddings slightly warm, topped with a scoop of ice cream, a star decoration and a sprinkling of edible gold dust.
Spiced Christmas mittens
Try using a tube of writing icing if you find nozzles and piping bags off-putting. The dough is a forgiving one and will keep its shape in the oven as long as it is chilled and rested before rolling and shaping.
400g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
90g salted butter
120g dark brown soft sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
200g royal icing
2 tbsp orange juice
Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Add the ground ginger, mixed spice and cinnamon and mix well to combine evenly.
In a second mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, treacle, vanilla bean paste and orange zest.Gradually add the dry ingredients, whilstmixing with a wooden spoon to form a dough. Divide the mixture in two, flatten each into a disc, wrap in clingfilmand leave in a cool place for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight. If the dough is not rested properly it will be too sticky and won’t hold its shape in the oven. It can be chilled at this stage for up to 4 days.
Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Line two large baking sheets with non-stick parchment paper. Take one portion of dough, leaving the rest for another day if you like.Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin.Roll the dough out to the thickness of a pound coin. Flour the cutter to stop it sticking and stamp out biscuits, as close together as possible. You can also cut biscuit shapes out freehand with a sharp knife.
Transfer carefully to the lined trays, leaving 3cm between biscuits toallow for spreading. Bake for 8-10minutes, or until very lightly browned. Set aside to cool and firm up on the trays for 5 minutes then cool completely on wire racks before icing.
Repeat with the remaining dough to make 4trayfuls, or keepthe second batch of dough chilled and make another two trays of biscuits up to 4 days later. To decorate the biscuits, put the royal icing sugar in a mixing bowl and stir the orange juice in to make a thick and shiny mixture with no lumps remaining.
Transfer toa piping bag fitted with a tiny round piping nozzle. Nozzle numbers (sizes) 1 or 1.5 are ideal (youcan use a plastic food bag with a tiny corner snipped off, but the results won’t be quite as precise). Decorate the top surface of the mitten biscuits by using the icing to ‘draw’ borders and patterns all over them.Tweet