Over and out for another year....!

I'm counting down the days until the holidays start - can't wait to put my feet up and work on my relaxing techniques!

There seems to be a a continuous stream of friends and family popping in for a drink and catch up at the moment - so to be a good host I have my cake tins full of christmas treats all ready and waiting.

While someone is pouring the drinks, I try to throw together one of these platters with a range of goodies plus some strawberries & cherries from my garden for the healthier individuals amongst us. Easy peasy!

Hope you all out there in blog land have nice relaxing break and manage to make it through the feeding frenzy of Christmas Day in one piece.  

Merry Christmas....!  

Recipe by Donna Hay
125g unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (90g) brown sugar
⅔ cup (230g) golden syrup
2½ cups (375g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda, sifted
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6–8 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup, flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and mixed spice and beat until the mixture just comes together to form a smooth dough. 

Divide the dough in half and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll each piece of dough out between two sheets of non-stick baking paper to 5mm thick and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm. 

Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F). Using a round cookie cutter, cut out circles until all the dough is used, re-rolling the dough as necessary. Use a cookie press to add a pattern to the cookies. Place on large lightly greased baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 12–15 minutes or until golden and firm. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 
Makes approx. 50.


Recipe by Emma Knowles
Fruit Mince Filling
280 gm brown sugar
200 gm raisins
2 Granny Smith apples, coarsely grated
100 gm butter, melted
100 ml muscat
100 gm each currants and dried sour cherries
100 gm each glace figs & fresh dates, finely chopped
70 gm candied orange peel, finely chopped
40 gm cedro, finely chopped
Finely grated rind & juice of 1 orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp each finely grated nutmeg, ground cloves & ground ginger

Sweet Pastry
400 gm (2 2/3 cups) plain flour
120 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
240 gm cold butter, cubed
1 egg, chilled

For brushing: eggwash
For dusting: demerara sugar
For dusting: icing sugar (optional) 

For fruit mince filling, combine ingredients in a large bowl, mix well to combine, transfer to a sterile container and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 8 weeks.

For sweet pastry, combine flour, icing sugar, vanilla seeds and a pinch of salt in a food processor and process to combine. Add butter, pulse until fine crumbs form. Beat egg lightly, then add to mixture. Pulse to combine, turn onto a work surface.

Bring pastry together with the heel of your hand, form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until required. Note This recipe makes about 800 gm.

Preheat oven to 180C. Roll out chilled pastry between 2 sheets of lightly floured baking paper to 3mm thick, cut 18 10.5cm-diameter rounds and then line 18 125ml muffin tins. Spoon in fruit mince filling to 5mm below rims, set aside in refrigerator.

Re-roll scraps, place pastry on a tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate to rest (30 minutes). Cut nine 7cm-diameter rounds, then cut a star shape from centre of each round with a star cutter. Place a star in centre of half the tarts. Place a round on top of remaining tarts, pressing edges to seal and trimming edges. Brush pastry lightly with eggwash, scatter with demerara sugar and bake until filling is bubbling and pastry is dark golden (15-20 minutes). 

Cool in tins, then store in an airtight container until required. Tarts will keep for 1 week. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Recipe by Brian Campbell

150g egg whites
300g caster sugar
35g Fresh As Passionfruit powder
Passionfruit pulp - optional

Heat oven to 70 C. Bring a pot of water to the boil and reduce to a simmer. In a metal bowl mix the egg white and sugar together and whisk over simmering water until light and fluffy. Continue whisking until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and beat with electric beater until the mixture reaches medium peaks. Add Fresh As Passionfruit powder and beat until combined. 

Pipe or spoon meringue kisses onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. Dry in oven for 3 hours. Turn oven off and leave for a few hours with the oven door slightly ajar.

Makes approx. 12 large meringues or 80 meringue kisses.

Recipe by Olivia Galletly

whites of 4 eggs
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups coconut threads
100 grams dark chocolate, melted
35 grams salted pistachios, roasted and finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Whisk together the egg whites, caster sugar, salt and vanilla extract until the mixture is frothy, this should only take around 1 minute. Add the coconut threads and mix until well combined. Set aside for 15 minutes to let the coconut threads soften and soak up the egg whites. 

Using your hands compress the coconut into tablespoon sized balls and place on a lined baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 20 minutes on the tray.

Drizzle the melted dark chocolate over the macaroons and sprinkle over finely chopped roasted pistachios.

Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes to set the chocolate. Store at room temperature in an air tight container.

Makes approx. 20

All Images © Deborah Aspray - Motif Lifestyle Images Ltd 2015


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