Chocolate and Candy Cane Biscuits

I’ve seen a lot of tempting bakes using candy canes this winter. There’s something about the eye catching red and white stripes that really sand out and make these bakes look all the more tempting.

I initially had visions of rolling chocolate truffles in crushed up candy canes but sadly the canes were a bit too soft and sticky once crushed and it didn’t work out. Then this idea popped into my mind – dark, cocoa rich cookies dipped in snowy white chocolate and then sprinkled with the crushed up candy canes. It turns out that it was a great idea – the flavours really work – bitter, sweet, smooth with crunchy bits that have a hint of peppermint. A bit like an after eight mint in cookie form! These could now be one of my favourite festive after dinner treats. 

For those who are less keen on a minty flavour profile, then these work just as well as simple white chocolate dipped chocolate cookies and decorated with some pretty sprinkles.

Chocolate and Candy Cane Biscuits

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

 

makes 15-20

  • 115g or 1 cup of plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsps cornflour
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of baking powder
  • 55g or 1/4 cup hard vegetable fat 
  • 55g or 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine 
  • 100g or 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp dairy-free milk
  • 30g dairy-free white chocolate
  • 1-2 candy canes, crushed and/or Christmas themed decorations
  1.  Sift together the flour, cocoa, cornflour, salt and baking powder.
  2. In another bowl whisk together the fat, margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the milk and whisk again.
  3. Add the flour mix and carefully combine
  4. Roll out and cut out shapes with cookie cutters, small rectangles work well.
  5. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes
  6. Cool on the sheet before moving to a wire rack.
  7. Melt the white chocolate over a bain-marie and half dip each cookie into the melted chocolate
  8. Place back onto the lined baking sheet, sprinkle with decorations or crushed up candy canes and leave to set

Pepparkakor – Swedish Ginger Thins

I always love a cooking challenge and so was happy to be asked for a Pepparkakor recipe. These Swedish Ginger thins are a Scandinavian Christmas must have and rightly deserve a place on my site.

I’ve only had the Anna brand ones, those very thin crisp flower shapes biscuits often found in health food shops. They always make me think fondly of my step-Grandmother who would always buy Anna’s Ginger thins and a variety of dried fruit for my girls to graze on when they were tiny. She was always very kind to me and made such an effort to cater for us, despite the dietary challenges.

These pepparkakor are a little less thin and crisp and not so dark in colour as I only had syrup available rather than the syrup and treacle required. But the spice is spot on and they make a lovely addition to the Christmas spread.

Pepparkakor (Swedish Ginger Thins)

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 16-20

125g dairy-free margarine

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cardamon

50g caster sugar

40g soft-brown sugar

50g golden syrup (or ideally 25g treacle and 25g syrup)

35ml water

250g plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp salt

  1. Cream together the margarine, sugar and spices.
  2. Melt the syrup (or syrup and treacle) into the water
  3. Add the syrup mix and flour, bicarb and salt to the creamed margarine and mix to a soft dough.
  4. wrap and rest for a couple of hours in the fridge
  5. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade
  6. Roll out the dough to 2-3mm thick and stamp out festive shapes.
  7. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes until golden
  8. Cool on a wire rack
  9. These are best iced but if you don’t have time (like me) a little dusting of icing sugar is nice too 🙂

Mini Panettone

These days panettone is a big part of Christmas. Every food shop seems to have a huge pile of beautifully packed panettone flown straight from Italy. Since I started making homemade friendly panettone it has also become a family tradition for us.

This year I’ve decided to make mini panettone. After all, what could be more temping and cute than a perfect individual panettone?

This version is chocolate chip as I know that’s the flavour combination that’ll be devoured in this house, but you could easily swap the chocolate for dried fruit or mixed peel for a more traditional vibe.

If you can find proper mini-panettone cases to place in empty tin cans or panettone moulds, then you are luckier than me! I used the tulip type muffin liners placed in a deep muffin tin, which did a pretty good job.

Did you notice the mistletoe and the tag in the photos? Every year we and our neighbours have a mistletoe fairy who mysteriously leaves mistletoe with a tag in our letterboxes. We don’t know who it is, but it’s a lovely festive treat 🙂

Mini Panettone

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 6

250g plain flour

30g caster sugar

1/2 tbsp yeast

1/4 tsp salt

100ml dairy-free milk, warmed to body temperature

25g cup dairy-free margarine, melted

Zest of 1 lemon and 1 clementine

30g cup dairy-free dark chocolate chips

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl.
  2. Stir in the sugar, yeast and salt.
  3. Pour in the warm milk, margarine and zests and bring together to form a smooth and elastic dough.
  4. Knead in the chocolate until they are evenly distributed
  5. Leave in a warm place to double in size.
  6. Knock back and form into a smooth ball. Cut into 4 equal pieces, approximately 75g each
  7. Place in a lined muffin tins.
  8. Leave to rise again until it they’ve grown a lot. An hour in a warm place should be adequate
  9. Brush the top with oat milk and sprinkle with a pearl or chouquette sugar. (if you can’t find that use demerara)
  10. Place in a preheated oven and bake at 180 degrees centigrade fan/190 degrees centigrade non-fan/gas mark 5 for 20-25 minutes, until golden and cooked through (it will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.)
  11. Cool

Tomato and Balsamic Taralli Biscuits

I’m always looking for new savoury snack ideas as they can be sadly hard to find if you’re on a restricted diet. Breadsticks are mainly out of bounds due to traces of sesame, few crackers are suitable and cheese straws are a obvious no-no! Some crisps and popcorn are good but you can’t always eat crisps, well maybe you can buy you probably shouldn’t!

These little crunchy Italian bites are a great addition to the snacking scene. They savoury, crunchy and moreish – just perfect with an aperitif or to snack on whilst watching a film.

They seem to have been quite a hit as the first batch disappeared in a couple of hours – always a good sign. I think I’ll have to make a couple of extra batches to keep us going through Christmas and to add little bags to my homemade hampers!

Taralli biscuits are often flavoured with fennel but I’ve use balsamic vinegar, sun dried tomato paste and oregano. I think it results in a subtle but delicious savoury taste. If you want to ramp up the flavour use double concentrated tomato purée instead.

Sundreid Tomato and Balsamic Taralli Biscuits

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes about 40

250g plain flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried oregano

3 tsp sun-dried tomato paste

20ml cheap balsamic vinegar (don’t waste the good stuff here!)

80ml white one or grape juice

60-80ml extra virgin olive oil

to glaze: 1 tsp tomato paste mixed with 1 tsp dairy-free milk, flaky salt crystals

  1. Stir in the salt and oregano into the flour. Add the tomato paste, olive oil and white wine and bring together to a soft dough.
  2. Knead until silky and smooth.
  3. Wrap and rest in the fridge for at least an hour
  4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade Fan, 190 degrees non-fan
  5. grab small grape sized pieces of the dough and then roll into half cm wide sausages. Cross over the ends to make a loop and place on the lined baking tray while you shape the rest.
  6. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Drop in the Taralli, ten or so at a time and boil until the rise to the surface. This will take a minute or two.
  7. Place back on the lined baking sheet.
  8. Brush with the glaze and sprinkle with the salt. 
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and crispy. 
  10. Cool on wire rack. These will get more crunchy as they cool. Store in an airtight container for up to a week (if they last that long!)

Nut-free, dairy-free Rugelach

Happy Hanukkah! I’ve always wanted to make some nut and dairy-free Rugelach and Hanukkah is the perfect time to come up with a new recipe. Rugelach is a filled pastry originating from the Jewish communities of Poland. They are buttery and flaky with a sweet cinnamon scent.

Normally made with a nutty filling this version replaces the crunch with Demerara sugar spiced up with wonderfully warming cinnamon. Apricot jam would have been a nice addition but I didn’t have any to hand.

I did wonder if the dough would work dairy-free as it’s essentially butter, cream cheese and flour. I’ve never made rugelach before so I’m not familiar with how they are meant to taste but this dairy free version is delightfully crisp, flaky and moreish. Be warned that the dough is very soft and sticky so you have to be sure to chill it well before shaping and be prepared for some stick!

Hopefully someone who is familiar with the usual rugelach can give these a go and let me know if they’re at all authentic? Either way they’re pretty delicious and a great snack for Hanukkah or any other time!

Nut-free and Dairy-free Rugelach

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 24

110g dairy-free margarine

120g dairy-free ream cheese (I used Violife creamy)

150g plain flour

1 tbsp caster sugar

pinch of salt

zest of 1/2 a lemon

for the filling:

2 tbsp demerara sugar

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

extra demerara sugar and dairy-free milk to finish

  1. Cream together the margarine and cream cheese.
  2. Add the salt, sugar and plain flour and mix to form a very soft dough. 
  3. Split into two and wrap each half in cling film and chill for at least a couple of hours.
  4. When fully chilled preheat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade fan, 180 degrees centigrade non-fan
  5. Roll out each half of dough between two sheets of parchment until about 2mm thick. It will be sticky!
  6. Sprinkle over half of the filling on each circle and then using a pizza cutter, divide the circle into twelve equal slices.
  7. Starting at the wide end, roll up each slice until it looks like a little croissant.
  8. Place on a lined baking sheet.
  9. Brush with dairy-free milk and sprinkle over a little extra Demerara sugar.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes (turning he baking sheet half way through) until golden.
  11. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Mini Christmas Muffins (with a mince pie version)

Mini muffins are such a great bake. Tasty, moreish and bite sized. I like to pop a couple into a lunchbox for a tasty sweet treat, or have a platter ready to welcome everyone home.

These mini muffins taste like Christmas; spiced with cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg and clementine zest. I think they’ll make a lovely treat to leave out for Father Christmas or as a Festive treat with hot chocolate while snuggled on the sofa in pyjamas.

I added a filling of mincemeat to half the mix to make mince pie muffins – and very nice they were too. Although I was the only family member to try those – everyone else hates mince pies!

 

 

Christmas Spice Mini Muffins/Mince Pie Muffins

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

Makes 24 mini or 6 large

120g or 1 cup plain flour

75g or 1/3rds cup soft brown sugar

1/2 tbsp baking powder

large pinch salt

55g or 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine, melted

75ml or 1/3rd cup dairy-free milk

125g or 1/2 cup dairy-free yogurt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp mixe spice

a pinch of ground nutmeg

zest of 1/2 clementine

(optional) 1/2 tsp mincemeat for each mini muffin 

water icing and Christmas decorations

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 Degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 5. Line a muffin tin
  2. In a bowl mix together the milk, yogurt, vanilla and melted dairy-free margarine. Set aside.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, spices and zest. Stir in the sugar.
  4. Make a well in the centre and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until combined (make sure you don’t over mix).
  5. 2/3rds fill each muffin liner. (for the mince pie version, 1/3rd fill then add the mincemeat and then top with the other 1/3rd of muffin mix)
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes for mini muffins or 20-25 minutes for large ones, until golden on top and a knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Either leave plain or top with water icing (add just enough water a few drops at a time to make a very thick icing) and Christmas decorations