Quick and easy Christmas treats – perfect for baking beginners
You’ve been invited to a Christmas party and have been put in charge of dessert and snacks. It is then you try to hide the panic on your face - it’s been a long time since you have attempted to make anything from scratch. In this case, making something elaborate is completely out of the question. See also: The Perfect Christmas Snack - Raspberry Marzipan Drops Not to worry – there are simpler and more fuss-free alternatives to the typical Christmas log cake. Furthermore, with Christmas turkey, roasts and deli meats already in the main course, fellow guests may just be too full to try that double chocolate cake that you slaved away in your kitchen for. Here are some light yet impressive sweet treats that are easy to prepare.

Chocolate cookies with mint cream filling

Turning up to dinner with a bag of cookies screams lazy and unenthusiastic. But what if you are really pressed for time or are on a budget? The solution? Jazz things up and make it fancy with this mint flavoured icing that you can use as a sandwich filling between two chocolate chip cookies. If you are really short on time, you can use store-bought cookies (don’t say we told you). Just make sure they are large enough to spread a considerable amount of cream filling. Ingredients:
  • 250g icing sugar (adjust for sweetness)
  • 57g softened butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Green food colouring (optional)
  1. Combine all icing ingredients. Using a hand whisk or a mixer, beat the mixture until smooth. If you are making the cookies, make sure your cookies are at room temperature before spreading the icing, or it will melt and turn sloppy. Chill the cookie sandwiches before serving.
  2. That...that’s it.

Shortbread dipped in dark chocolate

This traditional Scottish biscuit is made with just butter, sugar and flour. But we’re looking for treats that look good, and taste good. So you’ve got to elevate the presentation with dark chocolate dipped crust! Chill lightly before serving to prevent the chocolate from melting. *Makes 28 cookies Ingredients: Shortbread cookies:
  • 260g of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 225g of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 60g of icing sugar, sifted
Chocolate dipping:
  • 180 of semi-sweet chocolate drops or finely chopped chocolate bars
  1. Preheat your oven to 180° celsius.
  2. Using a paddle attachment of your mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and beat until sugar is incorporated. Mix in the flour well until a smooth dough ball forms.
  3. Divide the dough into two and place the first half between two sheets of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Make sure the dough is completely flat, and there are no air bubbles between the paper and the dough. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes.
  4. Using a floured cookie cutter of about 6cm in diameter, cut the dough into circles. Gather the leftover dough and repeat step 2.
  5. Place the parchment paper with the dough on a greased baking sheet, also lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Let the shortbread cool before dipping it in chocolate.
  6. To prepare the chocolate, melt the chocolate in a hot water bath: pour the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and place it over a pot of simmering water. Stir the chocolate as it melts into a smooth texture.
  7. Dip half the cookie into the melted chocolate. Place it on a rack to cool.

Granny’s Christmas fruit cake

The fruit cake is a Christmas staple. It is also one of the few times fruit makes an appearance in a course dominated by roast meat. You can add a dash of brandy or orange liquor to the cake mix for a festive touch. Use any dried fruits you prefer. Ingredients:
  • 200g of light brown sugar
  • 240g of water
  • 55g of diced butter
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 300 grams of raisins, sultanas, or dried apricots, or whatever dried fruit you prefer
  • 240ml of water
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of grated orange or lemon zest
  1. In a large saucepan, boil sugar, water, butter, spices and dried fruit over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool until it is room temperature.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180° celsius, or 160° celsius if you are using a dark-coloured loaf pan. Grease an 8 inch loaf pan with butter or non-stick spray. Line with parchment paper. Don’t forget to grease the parchment paper too.
  3. Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the beaten eggs, baking soda, vanilla extract, flour and orange or lemon zest. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
  4. Let cool on a wire rack before removing from the pan. Ideally, it should be stored in the covered container for a few days before serving.

Festive churro balls

Mexican churros are an unusual choice when it comes to Christmas treats - but once you place one in your mouth, trust us, no one will care. Lightly dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon and dipped into chocolate sauce, Nutella or honey, it makes the perfect Christmas tea time snack. Makes 8 balls Ingredients:
  • 250ml water
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked
  • vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 80 grams of icing sugar
  • You will need: a piping bag and some paper towels to soak up the excess oil. If you don’t have a piping bag, use a ziplock bag. Cut one of the corners to make a hole in the bag.
  1. Combine water and butter in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until the butter melts. Remove from heat.
  2. Beat in the flour and salt and return to heat. Cook for 3 minutes more until the dough is smooth enough to unstick itself from the sides of the pan.
  3. Let it chill for five minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating each egg in well. Cover mixture and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat oil up to about 180°C. Test if it is ready for frying by spooning a small amount of dough into the oil. If it turns golden brown in 10 seconds, you’ll know it’s ready.
  5. Spoon the dough into a piping bag and pipe it into balls of about 3 cm wide. This takes practice, so don’t worry if the balls come out irregularly sized.
  6. Fry the churros until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the churros out and lay them onto some paper towels. Let cool for a few minutes. Using a sifter, dust the churros with icing sugar.
  7. Serve with melted chocolate, honey, Nutella, or eat it on its own. Dust with cinnamon powder for a holiday touch.