Pretty as a Picture Christmas Presents

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Giving gifts at Christmas is one of my favourite pastimes. I tend to get a little addicted to internet browsing in the lead up to Christmas, searching for the perfect gifts. Generally it pays off and I get a rush watching my family open their well-thought-out presents. I guess it’s a family thing, because thoughtful gift giving tends to be a theme. Last year my husband bought me a Dyson and it was a game changer. His female colleagues got mad at him, telling him ‘you can’t buy your wife a vacuum cleaner!’ But you can when it’s me (clean freak) and you can when it’s a Dyson (ah-mazing).

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Whilst extravagant presents like a Dyson are nice every now and then, that’s not what Christmas is all about. If you want to show someone you care, all you need to do is show them you’ve put in some time and effort. Baking presents for people is great when you’re giving to people who have everything they could ever need (hello, Grandparents!), you’re on a tight budget or you just don’t know what to give Jan from the office for Kris Kringle.

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Below is a selection of my favourite recipes to give as a gift. Not only are they delicious but you can package them up to look really pretty, as you’ll see Soph has! The only recipe missing that I’ll also be giving as a gift this year is my Gingerdoodles, which are a special request from my Dad. Check out the recipe on our Father’s Day blog.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Cooking! If you burn anything, just remember it’s the thought that counts!

Em xx

 

Chai Cookies

Makes about 20 – 25 cookies

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 Earl Grey tea bag
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Put the kettle on to boil.

Sift the flour, bicarb, baking powder, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon and ginger into a bowl.

Cut the top off the tea bag and tip the contents into a little bowl. Add a teaspoon of boiling water and let sit for a minute or two.

In a large bowl, beat the tea leaves, olive oil, salt and sugar with an electric mixer for a few minutes until well-blended. Add the egg and beat on a low speed until combined. Add the sifted flour and spices gradually, beating on a low speed until combined.

Portion out into generous tablespoon-sized balls and place on the lined baking trays, leaving space for the cookies to spread. Press down lightly on the balls to slightly flatten and place an almond in the centre. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. The cookies will be soft when taken out of the oven, so allow them to cool on the trays.

Store in an airtight container.

Christmas Syrup

Perfect on pancakes, muesli, in your cup of tea or with banana and ice cream!

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Ingredients

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups water

Method

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for about 30 minutes. It will be slightly thicker in consistency. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before straining to remove the cinnamon sticks, cloves and peppercorns.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.

Toasted Cinnamon Almonds

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 500g raw almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 160C fan-forced. Line two large, rimmed baking trays with baking paper.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg white until frothy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Add the almonds and stir with a wooden spoon until the almonds are coated. Add the sugar mixture and stir again to coat all almonds.

Spread the almonds on the baking trays in a single layer. Bake for 50-60 minutes, stirring every fifteen minutes. The almonds should be golden brown and crisp.

Store in an airtight container.

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