As a Christmas treat, my blog is a little early this week. Partly because next weekend I’m sure we are all likely to be to busy enjoying Christmas to read about more food delights. I also had a bubble of creativity. Festive touches do not always have to be bought. Homemade baked gifts really show you care and add that special touch. I got creative in the kitchen and made some Santa shortbread gifts (I’m not going to say who for or I’ll ruin the surprise). I also made some rich chocolate truffles to bag up with some pretty ribbon. I find it really fun to create something unique and I have always been into making things. Why not have a go at one of these ideas (or both)? You can get really artistic with the gift-wrapping too: ribbons, cellophane, mini gift tags, feathers, beads, or many other ideas!
(makes about 14 biscuits of about 14cm tall)
- 300g plain flour
- 150g cornflour
- 150g caster sugar
- 300g butter cubed
- pinch of salt
- ½ tbsp. vanilla essence
- small splash of milk to help combine
- Icing: 700g royal icing, 120ml cold water, red colouring, 100g dark chocolate, 75g milk chocolate
Chocolate truffles (makes about 40)
- 100g dark chocolate (around 85% cocoa solids)
- 200g milk chocolate
- 284 ml double cream
- 2 small splashes of vanilla essence
- Knead all the shortbread ingredients together in a bowl with your hands until a dough is formed. Roll this out so that it is 10mm thick, on a floured surface.
- Cut out your shortbread shapes (I made my own stencil from card by adapting the shape of a cutter I had).
- Place on greaseproof paper on a baking tray. I tend to have 3 biscuits per tray so they have enough space. Bake in a preheated oven for 12-15 minutes at 170oC until slightly coloured.
- Leave to cool on the baking tray – this is really worth it if you don’t want broken biscuits! Then transfer to a wired cooling rack.
- To make the icing, mix the royal icing and water with an electric whisk for about 5 minutes until thick and paste like.
- Divide the mixture in half and add red food colouring to one half. Also add a dribble of water to the red one to loosen it slightly.
- Pipe a white outline of the Santa’s outfit and wait to dry. Then fill in the outfit with the looser red icing. Next melt the chocolate and pipe the eyes, mouth and buttons. Finally pipe the fluffy edges of the outfit and the white hat tail with the white icing.
- Leave to dry.
- When you are happy they are dry, package them as you wish. I think they are so cute with red ribbon and gift tags.
- Boil the cream. Melt the chocolate by pouring this over the chocolate in a glass bowl. Add the vanilla essence.
- Leave in the fridge to cool for a minimum of 3 hours.
- Shape into truffles to about the size of a teaspoon.
- Coat in your choice of cocoa powder, icing sugar, coconut, chocolate flakes.
- Package them up beautifully using cellophane and ribbon.
So there you have it. Homemade gifts that will make people smile. I hope you enjoyed these ideas and Happy Christmas!