Now is the time for some sweet treats to enjoy on Christmas day after the main meal is finished and you want to relax with a cup of tea or coffee.
Let's start with some pretzel snacks covered in white chocolate. I discovered them in Australia when one of my good friends there made them for a Christmas in July dinner. They were actually served as an appetiser with a variety of other little snacks. The saltiness and crispiness of the pretzels combined with the creaminess and sweetness of the white chocolate is pretty unusual but quite tasty!
Ingredients (makes 20)
200g chopped white chocolate
75g giant pretzels (of the hard snack kind, you can use the mini versions too)
Optional: edible copper glitter
1. Fill one third of a small saucepan with water. Put over a low heat and bring the water to a simmer. Transfer the chopped white chocolate into a heatproof bowl (it should be slightly bigger than the top of the saucepan). Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. This method for melting chocolate is called 'bain marie'.
2. Take the saucepan and bowl of melted chocolate off the heat. Leave for 1 or 2 minutes. Dip the pretzels one by one in the melted white chocolate and let them dry in a cool place on a wire rack or a sheet of baking paper.
Before they dry completely, you can decorate the pretzels by sprinkling some edible copper glitter on them. Serve once the chocolate has set completely on the pretzels.
Last year, I made those gluten free gingerbread men. For the blog this Christmas, I used some plain flour and added some good quality cocoa powder. The addition of chocolate to the biscuits give them another level of deliciousness. The following can also be made gluten free by following the original recipe and swapping 50g of the buckwheat flour for 50g of cocoa powder.
Ingredients (makes approximately 48 biscuits)
180g softened unsalted butter
160g muscovado sugar
1 free range egg
60g golden syrup (or maple syrup)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground star anise
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
50g cocoa powder
300g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
1. Put the softened butter and the sugar in a large baking bowl. Cream them together until the mixture is thick and pale. Add the egg and golden syrup and mix until well combined.
2. Add the baking powder, spices and cocoa powder and mix well. Pour in the plain flour 100g at a time and combine the mixture well after each addition of flour.
Form a ball with the dough, wrap it in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least one hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Line one or two baking trays with baking paper (you might have to bake the biscuits in separate batches, 12 biscuits should fit on one baking tray).
4. Dust a large flat surface with flour. Roll out the dough to about 5mm thick. Cut out the biscuit shapes (gingerbread men, Christmas trees, reindeer, star, snowflake, etc.). Leave a space of 2cm between each biscuit on the tray.
Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
Transfer the biscuits onto a wire rack and let them cool down completely. Decorate with icing, white or dark chocolate, edible copper glitter, anything festive really!
Ingredients (makes 16 mendiants)
200g chopped white chocolate
25g halved roasted hazelnuts
10g chopped dried cranberries
Optional: popping candy, edible copper glitter
1. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Melt the white chocolate in a bain marie (method explained above with the white chocolate pretzels recipe).
2. Using a teaspoon, drop the chocolate on the greaseproof paper in little 5cm discs. Half way through, decorate with the hazelnuts, dried cranberries, poppy seeds and popping candy and edible copper glitter if you chose to use some.
Repeat with the rest of the chocolate.
3. Leave the mendiants to dry at room temperature for an hour (or 10 to 15 minutes in a fridge if you are in a hurry).
Delicately take the mendiants off the paper. Place them on a lovely serving plate and offer to your guests with teas and coffees after the Christmas meal.
Bon appétit et Joyeux Noël bien sûr!