The delightful aroma of spices filling the kitchen, be it a Christmas cake cooking or spicy biscuits tells us all that Christmas is on its way. The smell of chocolate baking reminds me too of the luxuries of the season. I still use the same recipe for speculaas that I cooked in a food shop in Adelaide. I’d hang them on the Xmas tree and my greedy pug used to sit underneath willing them to fall down so she could scoff them. She was often successful. The children took over the biscuit making as teenagers and have now made it a ritual with their friends too. Baking puts everyone in the mood. So do Christmas fairs , especially when they are filled with home made goods, a delightful way to get some inspiration for your own creativity in the kitchen. The Norwegian and Finish fair in London’s east end at Rotherhithe not only reflects their centuries old trading links with England but shares their culture that survive a long way from home.
Here are some deliciously thin biscuits that will come in handy around Christmas. They store well in an air tight tin.
Brandy Sugar stars
Ingredients 100g butter, 200g caster sugar, 300g plain flour, ½ tsp baking powder, 1 egg, 2 tbs brandy, ½ tsp vanilla essence
Ingredients 175g butter, 200g caster sugar, 1 egg, 225g plain flour, 75g cocoa powder, ½ tsp cinnamon
The method is the same for both biscuits
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and soft. Beat in the egg and any liquids, then beat in the remaining dry ingredients.
Bring together with a little kneading and wrap and refrigerate to firm up.
Roll out fairly thinly, using icing sugar to stop everything sticking to pin and surface. Cut shapes and bake on Bakewell paper lined trays.
Bake at 180C (350F, gas 4) for 10 minutes. When cool store in an airtight tin.
If you need something savoury these truffles are a treat.
BLUE CHEESE and CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
Ingredients 100g (4oz) dark chocolate, 300g (10oz) blue cheese e.g. Gorgonzola or Roquefort, Shropshire Blue
Method Grate the chocolate coarsely. Cut the cheese into truffle sized chunks and roll in the chocolate. Chill, then serve.