Cookies, Cakes and Festive Bakes

Whether you’re hosting the Christmas party this year, want to improve your culinary skills or just love to get involved in the festivities these fun bakes are perfect for you!

We can’t wait for the delicious aroma of the Christmas turkey and the smoky scent of pigs in blankets but it’s always the sweet smell of our festive bakes that we most look forward too. Whilst finances are strained this year, these creative recipes from BBC Good Food allow you to create 5-star treats without breaking the budget.

Easy Christmas Recipes

Red Velvet Blondies

  • 175g butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for the tin
  • 200g light brown soft sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or bean paste
  • 200g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 200g white chocolate, chopped, or use white chocolate chips
  • red food colouring gel
  • 100g soft cheese
  • 1 egg yolk (freeze the white to use in another recipe)
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

Method

STEP 1

Melt the butter and both sugars together in a pan over a low heat, adding a pinch of salt if the butter is unsalted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 mins. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter a 23cm square tin or 25 x 20cm baking tin and line with baking parchment.

STEP 2

Beat the eggs and vanilla into the cooled butter and sugar mixture until well combined. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then gently fold in until smooth. Fold in the white chocolate chunks and enough of the red food colouring to make the batter a deep red colour. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin.

STEP 3

Whisk the cheesecake ingredients together in a bowl, then spoon this randomly over the blondie batter. Use a skewer to gently swirl the cheesecake mixture into the batter for a marble effect.

STEP 4

Bake for 35-40 mins until the edges come away from the sides of the tin, the top has a papery crust and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it, but no wet batter. (They’ll firm up as they cool.) Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool fully. Will keep in an airtight container for three days.

Christmas Cookies

  • 175g dark muscovado sugar
  • 85g golden syrup
  • 100g butter
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 100g white chocolate
  • edible silver balls

Method

STEP 1

Heat the sugar, golden syrup and butter until melted. Mix the spices and flour in a large bowl. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in 1 tsp cold water. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the melted sugar mix, egg and bicarbonate of soda. Mix well. At this stage the mix will be soft but will firm up on cooling.

STEP 2

Cover the surface of the biscuit mix with wrapping and leave to cool, then put in the fridge for at least 1 hr to become firm enough to roll out.

STEP 3

Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. (At this stage the dough can be put into a food bag and kept in the fridge for up to a week.) Cut the dough in half. Thinly roll out one half on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes with cutters, such as gifts, trees and hearts, then transfer to baking sheets, leaving a little room for them to spread. If you plan to hang the biscuits up, make a small hole in the top of each one using a skewer. Repeat with remaining dough.

STEP 4

Bake for 12-15 mins until they darken slightly. If the holes you have made have closed up, remake them while the biscuits are warm and soft using a skewer. Cool for a few mins on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool and harden up completely.

STEP 5

Break up the chocolate and melt in the microwave on Medium for 1-2 mins, or in a small heatproof bowl over simmering water. Drizzle the chocolate over the biscuits, or pipe on shapes or names, then stick a few silver balls into the chocolate. If hung up on the tree, the biscuits will be edible for about a week, but will last a lot longer as decorations.

Gingerbread Jumpers

  •  175g dark muscovado sugar
  • 85g golden syrup
  • 100g slightly salted butter
  • 350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 500g fondant icing sugar
  • food colouring paste in various colours, or use coloured icing tubes (and you won’t need the fondant icing sugar)
  • sugar sprinkles (optional)

Method

STEP 1

Put the sugar, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then bubble for 1-2 mins, stirring until well combined. Set aside to cool for 10 mins.

STEP 2

Tip the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large bowl. Add the warm syrup mixture and the egg, stir to bring everything together, then gently knead in the bowl until smooth and streak-free. The dough will feel a little soft now, but will firm up once cooled. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least 30 mins.

STEP 3

Remove the dough from the fridge and leave at room temperature until softened. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and line two baking trays with baking parchment.

STEP 4

Working with half the dough at a time (keeping the remaining dough well wrapped), roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin, keeping the dough in a rough rectangle shape. Cut the dough into long strips, roughly 8cm wide, then cut each strip into ‘jumpers’ (see step-by-step). Cut out a V-neck for the collar and trim slim triangular pieces from either side to create sleeves (see step-by-step). Continue rolling and shaping the dough until you have about 20 jumper shapes. Arrange over the trays and bake for 8 mins until a few shades darker and puffed up a little. Cool on the trays for 5 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Un-iced, the biscuits will keep in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

STEP 5

For ‘flooded’ biscuits, mix 100g fondant icing sugar with enough water to make a thick but pipeable icing – it should hold its shape when piped. Transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with a fine round nozzle and pipe a line around the edge of each biscuit. If you have any icing left, tip it back into a bowl and add the remaining icing sugar, then add enough water to make an icing a little looser than the first batch, but not too runny. Divide the icing between as many bowls as the number of colours you’d like to use, then add a tiny bit of colouring to each and mix well until you have a vivid colour.

STEP 6

If you have disposable piping bags, transfer the icings to different bags and secure the open ends.

STEP 7

To pipe your jumpers using the ‘flooding’ method, pipe the runnier icing onto the biscuit, then use a cocktail stick to encourage it to fill every corner up to the piped border. Once dry, you can add details like fluffy collars and cuffs or spots and stripes with the thicker icing.

STEP 8

To pipe your jumpers with a cable knit effect, pipe lines of coloured icing vertically across the jumper. Use a toothpick to drag up and down through the icing to create a wave effect.

STEP 9

Finish off with sugar sprinkles if desired – we used mini gingerbread men, snowflakes, white ‘mimosa’ balls and gold polka dot sprinkles.

Sources

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/red-velvet-blondies

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/christmas-cinnamon-biscuits

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/gingerbread-jumpers