Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Baking - Gift Ideas

The weather has been warming up in our part of the world and I must admit I look longingly at pictures of a lovely white Christmas and wonder what that would be like.  One day I would love to experience that!  For this year though, the weather here is predicted to be quite hot on Christmas Day, so it will be a day spent in the air-conditioning or swimming in the pool.

It has been a bit of a challenge to do Christmas baking this year with the temperatures being quite high, especially when working with chocolate!  Here is what I've been able to bake over the last couple of days.

Cherry & Almond Biscotti

These are so delicious, definitely my favourite!  I added lots more coloured glace cherries and whole blanched almonds this year - a huge improvement.  I have to keep them put away out of sight otherwise we won't have any left for Christmas. 

Christmas Scroll Cookies

These were honestly a disaster to make.  If I ever make them again I will use my own cookie dough recipe. The recipe I used here had cookie dough which would not hold together, it kept falling apart, not from being crumbly because it was moist enough, just the type of dough it was - it was a nightmare to try and roll up to try and achieve the scroll effect.  I was amazed when they came out like they did and actually resembled some sort of scroll, I had expected much worse.

Chocolate Checkerboard Shortbread

This is a recipe I have been making for years.  It is yummy, easy to make and creates a nice effect with the checkerboard pattern.  I did colour the plain dough to try and make it red, to look a bit Christmassy - as you can see it turned out more of a pink shade instead.  They still look good and taste great!

Chocolate Rum Balls

This is one of those traditional old recipes which most people love.  You can choose to add the rum or leave it out altogether - they taste fine either way.

Marble Rocky Road

This was super easy to make and lots of fun - it is just Cadbury Chocolate melts, imitation cherries, mini marshmallows and Natural Confectionary Snakes cut into small pieces.  At the request of my children I didn't add in any nuts, although I personally think it would taste great with nuts.
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Today we have been busy making Christmas chocolates - using Christmas themed chocolate molds and Cadbury White Chocolate Melts which we have added colours to.  The kids have had so much fun making these!!

We plan to gift wrap a selection of baked goodies as gifts for our neighbours and friends.  It is so nice to be able to share homemade treats with others. 
Of course we will also have some left for our own family celebrations for Christmas Day too! 
I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of our favourite Christmas treats.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Getting Ready For Christmas

The past few weeks since my last update have flown by so quickly!  Christmas is approaching fast and like most other people I know, we are still busy getting ready, but I am pleased to say that my list of things to do is slowly diminishing in size - what a great feeling when you cross something else off that list!
School holidays started awhile ago now for us - so that means it is no longer just one person (me) who is out and about during the day, shopping, running errands etc, it is now 5 of us!  Trust me, that can take some co-ordinating sometimes, especially with the busy stores full of Christmas Shoppers.

Here is a small glimpse at some of what we have been up to over the last couple of weeks . . .

Making Christmas Cards for family and friends

Shopping ~ this store has the most amazing Winter Wonderland display and it even snows!

Making Snow Cones (and Fairy Floss/Cotton Candy) at our Church's Christmas Carols

Going to see all the spectacular Christmas Light displays - a yearly tradition we always do together with close family friends.  This angel was huge, like a tall building!

I loved this little village with all the twinkling lights, it made me feel like I was looking into a Thomas Kinkade painting

Packing Christmas Hampers because Christmas is about the gift of giving.  This is a great activity to be part of to encourage our children to learn to be charitable to others.
Wrapping Gifts.  These were what we gave to all our lovely Playgroup ladies.

And of course decorating our own Christmas Tree - which we did back on 1st December

Today we are having a day at home.  Friends over to play with the kids - lots of games, swimming and fun on the trampoline and I know the girls want to make up some Christmas crafts. 
For me, today is going to be a day of Christmas Baking and first on the agenda are these cute Christmas Swirl Cookies which I have been wanting to try out.

courtesy of Pinterest

I also want to make some more cherry & almond bread which was a favourite last Christmas and some white chocolate rocky road which is a yummy Christmas treat.  The recipe for this is courtesy of retromummy.  All of today's baking will make some nice gifts for friends and neighbours as well as provide our family with some delicious Christmas snacks.
Do you have any favourite recipes you like to make up at Christmas time?  If you have any recipe ideas for gifts especially, please let me know, I am always on the look-out for new recipe ideas!