Gingerbread and Cranberry Linzer Cookies

gingerbread-and-cranberry-linzer-2

I made these for exam marking, trust me, nobody’s favourite time of year! Obviously, this called for some festive cheer to get us through the hundreds of exam papers we needed to mark. I decided to make a variation on the Austrian Linzer Torte which is characterised by almonds and preserves. This gingerbread cookie is also made from almonds and the preserve is a very festive cranberry and orange combination.  The Linzer cookies went down well and we are already half way through the marking. I found this recipe on:  http://www.wholebiteblog.com/new-blog/2016/11/22/gingerbread-cranberry-linzer-cookies

 

Ingredients  (Makes 2 dozen)

75g whole almonds

85g cup dark brown sugar

225g unsalted butter, softened

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 tablespoons molasses (I used black treacle)

350g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

    1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

For the Filling

85g soft brown sugar

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Zest of one orange

gingerbread-and-cranberry-linzer

 Instructions 

Toast almonds in a small dry pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until they turn golden brown and smell nutty. Rub the nuts in a kitchen towel to remove any loose skins, then transfer to a food processor. 

Pulse the almonds and half the brown sugar in a food processor until finely ground and sandy. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and remaining brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the nut mixture and beat 1 minute longer. Scrape down the bowl and beat in the treacle and vanilla. Scrape one more time and add the egg. Mix until fully combined. 

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, whisking to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix on low until just combined. Form the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine cranberries, brown sugar, orange juice and zest in a saucepan over a low heat. Cook and stir for 3 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until the berries have burst and the mixture has thickened, 8-10 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bottom as you stir to prevent from sticking and burning. Let the filling cool completely

Preheat oven to 190/180/Gas 5. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or non-stick baking mats. Roll out the chilled dough on a well floured surface to between 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can and transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch of space between each. Using a smaller cutter, cut our the centre of half of the cookies. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Reroll the remaining dough and repeat the process. If you want more of a biscuit texture, bake for longer.

Once the cookies are cooled, spread a spoonful of jam on the bottom side of a whole cookie. Sandwich together with a cut out cookie. Make sure not to add too much jam or it will ooze out the sides. About 1 teaspoon in the centre should do the trick. Repeat with remaining cookies. 

gingerbread-and-cranberry-linzer-cookies

 

Apple and Cranberry Muffins

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I love the cranberries. I love the tartness and I love the association with Christmas. These muffins are beautiful; they are lightly spiced and both sweet and tart. I have to say I did improvise a bit with this recipe as I couldn’t find half the ingredients and the measurements were in American cups. Anyhow, I think I got lucky because I can’t stop eating them!

Ingredients

110g sunflower oil

225g apples peeled and cored (I used Braeburn apples)

1 piece of pared lemon peel

juice of half a lemon

½ teaspoon cinnamon

200g soft brown sugar

50g date syrup (you could just add more sugar)

2 eggs

zest of an orange

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

225g whole wheat self raising flour

65g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 and ½ teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

200g fresh or frozen cranberries

apple-and-cranberry-muffin-2

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 180°c/160°c/gas 4 and line a muffin tray with 12 muffin cases.
  • Make the apple sauce by cutting up the apples into small chunks and putting them in a small saucepan. Add the lemon juice, peel, cinnamon and a little water and cook for about 15 minutes on a low heat. When the apples have cooked through, take out the lemon peel and mash up the apples with the back of a fork.
  • Add the applesauce, sugar, syrup, eggs, orange zest and vanilla extract into the bowl of a free-standing mixer and mix on a medium speed until smooth.
  • In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: both flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix until combined.
  • Use a rubber spatula to add the cranberries, leaving a few to put on top of the muffins.
  • Fill each of the muffin cases 3/4 full and decorate with the remaining cranberries and a sprinkle of the brown sugar.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes.

apple-and-cranberry-muffin

 

Chocolate bark with ginger, cranberries and pumpkin seeds

Chocolate Bark

 

I made this chocolate bark as a Christmas gift for my neighbours, but now I’m thinking about it, it is actually perfect for a post-Christmas healthy treat. I used a very dark chocolate for this, 85%. This type of chocolate doesn’t have much sugar and is full of antioxidants. You can of course use any topping you like for this bark. I went for the warming flavour of ginger. I also added dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. The edible gold stars were just to give it a bit of Christmas sparkle. I think next time I’ll use goji berries, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds and feel very virtuous!

 

Ingredients

300g 85% dark chocolate (100g is approximately 1 bar of chocolate, so you can adjust the quantities accordingly).

A handful of crystallised ginger, finely chopped

A handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted

A handful of cranberries

Edible gold stars

Chocolate Bark with Ginger, Cranberries and Pumpkin seeds

 

 

Directions

  • Put the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan and gently heat until you hear them starting to pop. Set aside and leave to cool.
  • Line a baking tray with a silicon mat, greaseproof paper or cling film.
  • Melt the chocolate very gently in a bain marie by breaking the chocolate into small pieces and putting them in a heatproof bowl. Put about 1 inch of hot water in a saucepan and sit the bowl over the pan, but so it is not touching the water. Allow the chocolate to melt. Be patient, if you rush the process, the chocolate won’t like it and will seize up.
  • Pour the melted chocolate into your baking tray. You can make the layer as thin as you like. Using a spatula, make sure the chocolate has spread evenly. Sprinkle over your toppings and leave to cool in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  • When the chocolate has set, turn it out of the tin and either snap into pieces or cut into squares. If you want to cut the chocolate into squares, the chocolate shouldn’t be set completely hard.

Christmas Chocolate Bark