A little something no Santa can resist...
A Christmas staple in my family is the humble florentine… I’m not sure whether it’s particularly Christmasy but I know they are my Dad’s favourite and that’s reason if any to make them during the festive season… A couple of weeks ago my husband and I finally graduated from Theology… It was a weekend of mixed emotions… excitement at finally finishing… relief as the assignments slowed down to a light trickle… and reticence at what the future would hold… Ultimately it was our family that got us through… their continual encouragement… optimism… and general cheerleading meant we could enjoy the weekend the way we intended even if the prospect of packing up our house loomed once the ceremonies were over… I think it was Saturday lunch when Nan whipped out the florentines… and they were an allround crowdpleaser… the crunchy cornflakes and bitey nuts smothered in a crisp sweet coating… the addition of dried fruit with the glistening cherries add a definite hint of Christmas cheer… and who can resist something that is smothered in chocolate!
Christmas reminds me of the blessing of family… this recipe comes form my nan.. with adaptations and I hope it reminds you of family traditions and recipes that you bring out at Christmas and share!
Adapted from Nan’s recipe.
3 cups cornflakes
1 1/2 cups mixed fruit
110g sliced almonds
1 tin condensed milk
200g good quality dark chocolate
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Add tin of condensed milk and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
4. Spoon mixture on to baking sheets lined with baking paper. HINT: If you use a large soup spoon you can fill the spoon, drag it up against the side of the bowl and then hold upside down onto the baking sheet and get a nice shape. It gets a little sticky so make sure you have a finger or teaspoon handy to scrape out the extra.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Don’t be afraid to leave them a little longer as you want them to be crunchy and crisp. Under cooking you’ll end up with a chewy biscuit that can sometimes fall apart.
6. Break the chocolate into a heatproof jug and melt in the microwave.
7. Using an offset spatula spread chocolate liberally over the flat side of the florentines.
8. Refrigerate until set.
My favourite thing about Christmas is obviously going to be the food… but I’m not talking about the roast turkey and vegies or even the Christmas pud… I’m talking about all the Christmas themed treats that come into season and into the kitchen generally when the calender ticks over to December… Unfortunately the first part of my December was spent packing boxes… which also meant packing away all my baking trays, rolling pins, mixing bowls and cookie cutters… all essential items for christmas themed treats… as my husband and I sat down amidst the piles of boxes and packing tape at the end of the first day of packing an overwhelming cloud settled over my head at the huge task of moving related logistics ahead… Adrian took one look at my downcast expression and being able to physically see the tension in my shoulders promptly trekked out to the mass of boxes in the storage shed and brought back one of the kitchen boxes… “I think you should bake something..”
I didn’t need to be told twice! So I unpacked my baking things and decided to get into the festive spirit with this adorable little Christmas cookie trees… that seem week I had bought the star shaped cookie cutters with the intention of making these little treats for our last small group meeting for the year… but as a result of the aforementioned packing stresses they became travel treats instead! I’ve only in the last couple of days had a chance to put them together properly! Aren’t they cute? and super easy… I can’t quite remember the recipe I use but grab your mum or nans typical Christmas cookie recipe or gingerbread recipe (or try this one) and some assorted sized star cutters and you’re good to go…
all you need to do is grab a skewer and using the blunt end poke two wholes next to each other in the centre of each sized cookie… stack them up and using a crochet needle or just any large needle that you can thread the ribbon into pull the ribbon through both wholes and tie at the top…. I used a thin ribbon to hold them all together and then made a festive bow with the red and white ribbon and pinned it on top…. but you can make any festive combination you like!
Have I mentioned that I have the most fabulous husband? Well he is especially fabulous at this very moment because I am about to tell you about two cookbooks (courtesy of aforementioned husband) that can make even the most macho of men giggle and squeal with delight at their cuteness factor (though completely unrelated to aforementioned husband)…
Of course… if you’ve been to my house you will know… they are called “Hello Cupcake” and “What’s New Cupcake?” and as the titles so aptly suggest they are filled with a bevy of baked beauties that will inspire even the drabbest domestic delinquent… My husband also has a slightly less fabulous but nice enough brother who was also inspired by flipping through their pages that we decided that we must flaunt our culinary capabilities at the next Church Luncheon… Brendan picked the “Monarch” Butterflies (but i should quickly add that due to the lack of orange candy melts our monarch butterflies became Ulysses butterflies… i thing learnt today!) and thus these little delights were born…
after a few little hiccups using the newly acquired and never before used candy melts we found that a steady and patient hand was the trick… a little tapping them flat didn’t go astray and that a metal skewer is your best friend with these cupcakes… they are super simple… chocolate cake mix baked into pretty gold patty pans… pre-made vanilla frosty mixed with a little green food colouring… milk chocolate in a piping bag… blue candy melts in a piping bag (I found some at house but they are extremely rare… next time I’m gonna just tint white chocolate)…. make a nice thick layer of the milk chocolate so you have plenty to draw in using the skewer…. don’t forget the little white non-pareils that just seemed to add a little something… unfortunately I can’t take credit for their assembly because I was quite ill the next morning (not from eating to much icing or anything)… so they are Brendans dainty work! Photos are also courtesy of Brendan! Isn’t he nice?
I’ve had a rather eventful last couple of weeks… with exams, graduation, packing up our tiny little house… lots of emails, phone calls and general tying up of loose ends… and its during those hectic moments that sitting down for a cuppa and a piece of cake are absolutely vital to your general sanity… and this cake is just the thing for those stressful times!
Not only is this cake low in sugar but it has no dairy products… unlike other rich and creamy cakes this is light and fluffy and leaves you feeling almost… refreshed…
When my parents came up to visit a little while ago my mum brought a new vegan cookbook that has recently been released called Simple, Tasty, Good…. this recipe is an adaptation from the apple cake in the book… unfortunately I can’t give you my adaptation because the recipe is packed deep in a box somewhere… Isn’t that always the case? Packing is the pits… who thought our whole life could fit into one little shed… stay tuned for some amidst packing crazily baking Christmas themed treats!