This little plate of goodies will be waiting for Santa this Christmas Eve at our house, along with a small bottle of homemade Irish cream liqueur. The White Christmas with plenty of toasty roasted hazelnuts will satisfy Santa's nostalgic leanings and almond shortbreads, kourambiethes will tick the box for traditional Greek Christmas treats.
The recipe for White Christmas is courtesy of my Nana, who used to make it for us every year along with a big batch of rum balls (that had a kick) and apricot-coconut delights. They would be placed in the 70s wooden lazy Susan - and I could never resist these treats, usually devouring most of them well before Christmas lunch had even started via sneaky spins of the Susan wheel. I used to keep turning the wheel so the empty sections of the Susan wheel sat right in front of my grandad. He knew exactly what I was up to and loved every minute of it! Instead of the usual glacé cherries, I have used some cranberries - but you could use some dried sour cherries and add a hint of ground cardamom. White Christmas is so easy to make and if Santa doesn’t polish off the lot, it is a welcome sweet treat on the Christmas table, or even for Boxing Day.
Nana's White Christmas
400g white chocolate
1 cup rice bubbles
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup hazelnuts, roasted
1 cup Turkish dried apricots, finely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pistachios, roasted
1. Line a 30cm x 20cm (base) baking pan with baking paper.
2. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
3. Remove the melted chocolate from heat and fold in the remaining ingredients.
4. Pour mixture into the prepared pan, pressing down. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.
5. Turn out onto a chopping board. Using a knife that has been dipped in hot water, cut into squares. Serve or store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Christmas in our family wouldn't be Christmas without Kourambiethes (Κουραμπιέδες). Our first Christmas after we were married my mother in law gave us a huge box of these almond-shortbread cookie, centered with a clove and covered with powdered sugar. We savoured them for the week or two following Christmas and have done so every Christmas since.
250g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons of icing sugar, sifted
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped
1 tablespoon of brandy or grand marnier
2 & 1/2 cups plain all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Icing sugar & whole cloves to decorate
1. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Gradually add the sifted icing sugar and beat another 5 minutes, or until very white. Beat in the egg yolk and brandy. Stir in almonds.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, and sift twice. Then gradually add it to the butter mixture to form a soft, smooth dough.
3. Preheat oven to 180C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into about 1-inch sized balls, then flatten slightly and pinch tops twice - add the single clove. Place about one inch apart on the parchment-lined baking sheets, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies are pale yellow. Remove from oven and let them cool on baking trays.
4. Make a fairly thin layer of icing sugar on a large sheet of baking paper. Transfer the warm cookies on top of this layer and then sift more sugar on top of the cookies.
Are you ready for Christmas yet and what sweet treats have you baked? Only two more sleeps to go!!