On the 23rd day of Christmas… Festive Food

Christmas wouldn’t quite be Christmas without one thing – food. Fact.

Illustration by Sarah Hutchinson Burke

For those of you who still haven’t quite perfected your menus for the next few days, here are a few delicious extras that you can turn your hand to, whisked straight from the kitchen of the lovely Ashley Fryer, founder of foodie community Peach Trees and Bumblebees. Yum…

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Ashley says: These truffles are easy peasy to make and make wonderful home made Christmas presents. Just buy a cute presentation box, tie with a ribbon and voila!

  • 6 oz good quality plain chocolate
  • 2 oz butter, chopped into small chunks
  • 4 oz madeira cake crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons double cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2-3 tablespoons brandy or rum
  • 150g white chocolate, or chopped nuts, or desiccated coconut, or chocolate sprinkles to decorate

Microwave chocolate until melted, being very careful not to burn it. Crumble up 4oz of madeira cake into fine crumbs (I usually use half a shop bought loaf). When the chocolate is melted, stir in small pieces of butter, cake crumbs, cream, egg yolk and brandy or rum.  Beat well until smooth and thick (approx 2 minutes).

Chill until firm (approx 45 mins). Form into small balls, roll in chopped nuts or chocolate sprinkles, or finely grated white chocolate (pictured). It’s your choice really. You can roll it in something sprinkly or dip it in melted chocolate. Place the balls in petit four cases and keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy!

CINNAMON AND VANILLA BANOFFEE PIE

Ashley says: Banoffee pie is brilliant comfort food. This is my variation for winter – the cinnamon and vanilla make it that touch Christmassy! Highly recommend a big slice served with a warm cup of tea or a generous slug of Baileys on the rocks!

For 4-6 people, you will need:

  • 15 digestive biscuits
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 200g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 medium tin of condensed milk
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 medium pot of Chantilly thick cream
  • 1 flake

First of all, get your apron on and preheat your oven to 200°c. Take your can of condensed milk and place in a small saucepan of boiling water. No need to open it, just pop the can in whole. Turn the water down to a simmer, cover and leave for an hour and 15 minutes. This will turn your condensed milk into caramel.

Meanwhile, crush up your digestives until you have fine crumbs. Add the sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Melt 100g of the butter in the microwave and mix it into the crumb mixture. Press into the base of a pie dish and pop in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes and remove. Leave to cool on a cooling rack. Once your condensed milk is done, take it out and leave to cool for at least 30 minutes. Once it’s cooled down a bit, carefully open the can. Be careful not to open it when it’s warm or you may find yourself covered in hot, exploded caramel. In a small saucepan, combine your brown sugar and the other 100g of butter and stir until melted together. Once the mixture is smooth, add the condensed milk and milk until well combined. Pour over the biscuit base and leave to cool.

Now, it’s important that this next bit happens right before you serve it. If you don’t need it until the next day, you can cover it at this point and leave it over night. Chop up your bananas into medium slices and layer over the cool caramel. Once they are all evenly spaced, spoon your Chantilly cream over the bananas and spread evenly. Crush up your flake and sprinkle over the cream. Serve and enjoy!

EASY SHORTBREAD

Ashley says: If you’re looking for a perky sweet pick-me-up, then look no further. Shortbread is one of the easiest things in the world and it’s super delish. Plus, you can make it very pretty, so it makes a lovely present.

You will need:

  • 120g salted butter, softened (it MUST be actual full fat, accept-no-substitutes butter – no marg or half fat rubbish)
  • 75g caster sugar (plus a couple of tablespoons for dusting)
  • 180g plain flour

First of all get some Christmas tunes on. You’re making shortbread and it needs Christmas tunes. Find your most festive apron and stick it on. Lovely.

With a freestanding or a handheld mixer, beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth. Don’t overbeat though or your biscuits will go a bit too airy. About 3-5 mins on medium should do make it light but not overly fluffy. Turn the mixer to a slower speed and slowly add the sieved flour. It will turn into a dough fairly quickly. Whilst it’s doing that, flour a clean surface and grab a rolling pin*. Remove the dough from the mixer and place on your floured surface. Roll it out to about 2cm thickness and cut into fingers or shapes. I used hearts but you can use anything. Alternatively if you have a biscuit press you can make them into balls and flatten slightly with the press.

Place the biscuits onto a buttered baking tray and pop in the fridge for 20 minutes. While the biscuits are cooling/setting, heat your oven to 180°c. Remove from the fridge and bake on the middle shelf for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. You may need to turn the tray halfway through. Once they are cooked, remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle a fine layer of caster sugar over each biscuit. Then carefully remove to a wire rack to cool. If you have any cake glitter, now’s a good time to sprinkle a bit on! When cool, serve with a cuppa! Enjoy!

*sneaky tip – if you don’t have a rolling pin, you can use a clean, lightly floured wine bottle!

For more delicious recipes, or to contribute your own, visit www.peachtreesandbumblebees.com (@peachtreesbbees)

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