Christmas has always been one of my favourite times of the year. There’s just something about the decorations, the food, and the classic movies on the telly that make it all seem very… fun.
I decided that I would make gifts for my friends this year, and started planning about a month in advance. Now, when you are as undecided as me, this is not always a good idea. I kept on finding such great ideas that I grew quite concerned at the number of recipes I began to accumulate. Nevertheless, I finally managed to make up my mind, and made some oreo truffle pops and Mowie’s spekulatius biscuits. I originally planned to make a few other types of biscuits, but didn’t have the time to do so.
I had never made (or even tasted!) spekulatius before, but Mowie’s description of the biscuits and the amazing photos he took was enough to convince me to give it a go. And I certainly wasn’t dissapointed! The best way I can think of to describe these little beauties are that they taste like crunchy shortbread, with a nice festive aftertaste from the spices. The taste develops with time, and were amazing 2 days after they were initially made.
I also made oreo truffles, which are one of my favourite things to make. I must say I favour this way of making truffles to the more traditional way of using chocolate ganache, as this feels less fiddly. Relatively anyway. Why do I say relatively? Well… because I decided that I would try making Bakerella’s reindeer pops – which I immediately bookmarked the moment I saw them. I mean, how cute are they? They took quite a lot of work though – especially those reindeer horns! They almost drove me insane. Which is why I stopped at 12… (plus I had run out of red/orange smarties…).
Having said that, I felt that all the effort put in was definitely worth it. And I must admit that I had lots of fun packing them up to be given away! I’m strange like that, I find such things therapeutic.
Slightly adapted from Mowie’s family recipe
(Makes 60-65 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutter)
- 500g flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 170g sugar (I used brown sugar)
- Seeds of 2 vanilla pods, or 1 tsp vanilla essence (I used 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
- 2 drops almond essence
- 2 eggs
- 200g cold butter, cubed
- 100g ground almonds (you can also use hazelnuts)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp mixed spice
1. Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Make a well in the middle and add all the other ingredients.
2. Use your hands to mix the ingredients properly until a ball of dough forms. Alternatively, do what I did and let your stand mixer do the hard work for you. I used the K beater at medium speed, which worked very well.
3. Place the dough in the fridge for about 15 minutes, as the dough needs to be cold before you start cutting out shapes.
4. Preheat your oven to 180˚C in the meantime.
5. Roll the dough out thinly (roughly 5mm thick), and cut the dough using your desired cookie cutters.
6. Place cookies on trays lined with greaseproof paper, and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes (until golden brown).
7. Allow the cookies to cool before peeling them off the paper. Store biscuits in a biscuit tin, and slowly enjoy your little bites of goodness!
*You can decorate these by placing flaked almonds on each cookie, I brushed the spekulatius with melted butter to help them stick. (I didn’t use an eggwash as I didn’t want the cookies to be shiny).
Oreo truffle pops
Makes 10-12, depending on the size of your truffles
- 1 tray of Oreo cookies*
- 1 tray of cream cheese (I used extra light cream cheese)
- 200g dark chocolate
- lolly sticks
- 100g white chocolate (for decorating)
- coloured sugar/crushed Oreos/sugar sprinkles (for decorating)
1. Crush the Oreo cookies until it reaches powder like consistency. I use my mini food processor to do this as I find it does a much better job than me!
2. Mix the crushed Oreos with the cream cheese. You can do this using a wooden spoon in a bowl, or with a stand/handheld mixer.
3. Form the mixture into balls, and place them on a tray lined with either foil or greaseproof paper. Put a lolly stick into each truffle ball, and flash freeze for 10-15 minutes.
4. Whilst the truffle balls are in the freezer, melt some dark chocolate in a double boiler.
5. Dip each truffle ball into the melted chocolate, and leave to dry. I leave mine for at least 30 minutes, just to be safe.
6. Decorate as you wish – I used white chocolate, crushed Oreos, and coloured sugar. And not forgetting the reindeers, instructions for which can be found here.
* You can also use Tim Tams, which I actually prefer, but they are just much harder (and more expensive) to find in London!