Tempting yet simple festive recipes

Where has the year gone? Only yesterday it felt like summer and yet, in the blink of an eye, Christmas is bright on the horizon with the New Year hot on its heels. There are now only 12 days to the festive morning, and here in the Cobden road kitchen, the sparkling lights surrounding the village and the beautiful Christmas trees visible from every bay window, inspire the first tingle of excitement. I am invariably thrilled when Christmas is near; decorating my home, looking for the perfect gifts and celebrating the festive season with friends, while the smell of vanilla, cinnamon and spice and the warmth of homemade gingerbread makes me feel a child again… at least for a moment.

Get your festive feast right this year with my favourite no fuss recipes from yours truly. From mini Christmas puddings with lime & rum mascarpone, mustard-glazed succulent gammon and pimped up brussels sprouts with toasted hazelnuts, to tempting spiced mulled wine and indulgent desserts, such as my show stopping pomegranate and cranberry trifle.  They’re sure to keep you cosy this Christmas and instal a fun yet festive calm that I know we all crave.

Merry Christmas to all my readers!

Mini Christmas Puddings with Spiced Rum & Lime Mascarpone
Mini Christmas Puddings with Spiced Rum & Lime Mascarpone

Mini Christmas Puddings with Spiced Rum & Lime Mascarpone

Makes 8
Prep 25 minutes
Cook 45 minutes

You will also need: 8 x 175ml ramekins, greased and bases lined with a circle of baking parchment

100g dark muscovado sugar
50g butter, softened
125g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp black treacle
75ml dark spiced rum
100g apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks
75g currants
75g dried cranberries
50g pecans, toasted and chopped
400g jar of luxury mincemeat
grated zest and juice of an orange
2 tbsp brandy

For the spiced rum and lime mascarpone:
2 tbsp light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp spiced dark rum
100g mascarpone
100g greek yoghurt
grated zest of a lime

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. Using an electric mixer, combine the sugar with the butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder and spices, then mix again until combined. Slowly add the eggs, followed by all the remaining ingredients for the pudding, mixing together as you go.
  2. Divide the mixture between the ramekins and transfer to a large roasting tray. Top each surface of the batter with another circle of baking parchment, then cover each with a square sheet of foil (roughly 10cm), and scrunch the foil around the rim making sure it is airtight.
  3. Transfer the roasting tin to the oven and fill with boiling water from the kettle so that it comes roughly half way up the side of each ramekin. Cook for 45 minutes, or until springy and firm to the touch in the centre.
  4. Meanwhile, make the spiced rum mascarpone cream. Beat all the ingredients together in a bowl and store in the fridge until ready to serve with the Christmas pudding.
Muscovado & Mustard Glazed gammon
Muscovado & Mustard Glazed gammon

Muscovado & Mustard Glazed ham

Serves 6-8
Prep 20 minutes, plus cooling
Cook 2 hours 5 minutes

2kg boneless unsmoked gammon joint
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped into chunks
1 large onion, quartered
3 sticks of celery, roughly chopped into chunks
2 bay leaves
a few cloves, to decorate
75g light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
50ml apple juice

  1. Place the gammon into a large pan, cover with cold water, and add all the vegetables and bay leaves. Slowly bring to the boil and allow to simmer gently for 1 hour and 15 minutes uncovered, skimming off any impurities as it cooks. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the stock for 2 hours, or until cold.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190C, fan 170C, gas 5. Remove the gammon from the pan and transfer onto a board. Using a small, sharp knife, peel off the rind then score a diamond pattern into the fat and stud with cloves.
  3. In a small pan, gently heat the sugar, honey, mustard and apple juice together until combined. Spread the mixture over the surface of the gammon. Transfer on to a deep-sided roasting tin and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, basting occasionally with the juices.
  4. Eat hot or cold with christmas chutney, such as the below.
Plum, Cranberry & Chilli chutney
Plum, Cranberry & Chilli chutney

Plum, Cranberry & Chilli chutney

Makes about 500ml
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 1 hour 15 minutes

100g molasses sugar
150g caster sugar
100ml red wine vinegar
200ml cranberry juice
600g ripe plums, stoned and roughly chopped
2 red chilli, seeds removed if you prefer, and roughly chopped
200g red onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
pinch of ground cloves
½ lime, juice only
1 tsp salt

  1. Place the sugars, vinegar and cranberry juice in a large pan and stir over a medium-low heat, until the sugar has mostly dissolved.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, increase the heat and bring to the boil before lowering again to a simmer. Continue to cook over a low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  3. The chutney is ready when the liquid has reduced and only a small amount of sticky syrup surround the fruit.
  4. Fill a sterilised jar with the hot chutney. Leave to cool and store in the fridge for up to a month.
Brussels sprouts with caramelised shallots, pancetta & toasted hazelnuts
Brussels sprouts with caramelised shallots, pancetta & toasted hazelnuts

Brussels sprouts with caramelised shallots, pancetta & toasted hazelnuts

Serves 8 – 10
Prep 20 minutes
Cook 20 minutes

1 tbsp olive oil
150g shallots, thinly sliced
1 ½ tbsp light muscovado sugar
125g Italian cubetti di pancetta
1kg brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed
50g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
a large handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

  1. Heat some of the oil in a large pan, and add the shallots and pancetta. Sprinkle over the sugar and gently cook, stirring every so often, on a medium heat for a few minutes or until the shallots begin to caramelise and pancetta goes crisp and golden. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Cook the brussels in a separate large pan of salted boiling water until just tender. Drain and briefly run under cold water to stop any further cooking.
  3. Place the shallot and pancetta mix back on to a low heat, then add the brussels sprouts and nuts, tossing everything together. Season to taste.
  4. When ready to serve, finish with a sprinkling of parsley. 
Classic mulled wine
Classic mulled wine

Classic mulled wine

Serves 8-10
Prep 5-10 minutes
Cook 20 minutes

1 large orange, zest strips and juice
125g light muscovado sugar
a few cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2 bottles of red wine
50ml cointreau or brandy
150g frozen winter fruits of the forest

  1. In a large heavy based pan, add the orange, sugar, spices, vanilla and add one bottle of red wine. Heat gently, stirring once or twice, until the sugar has dissolved, then continue heating gently for another 15 minutes .
  2. Stir in the rest of the wine, cointreau or brandy and fruits and gentle simmer for another few minutes. Serve in heatproof glasses.   
Cranberry, orange and rose water trifle
Cranberry, orange and rose water trifle 

Cranberry, orange and rose water trifle

Prep 20 minutes, plus chilling
Cook 5 minutes 

Serves 10 – 12

500g cranberries
150g light muscovado sugar
1 large orange, finely grated zest and juice
1 tsp rose water
150ml cointreau (orange or cranberry juice can be used if preferred)
100g pistachios, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
170g pack trifle sponges
2 x 500g tub fresh vanilla custard (you may need a little less, depending on the size of the trifle dish)
600ml double cream
25g icing sugar, sifted

  1. Place the cranberries, sugar and orange (¾ zest, reserving remaining for decoration) into a large pan with 1-2 tbsp water and gently heat for 5 minutes until the berries are softened and the sugar dissolved, then remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Line the base of a large trifle dish or bowl with the sponges, cutting them in half if needed. In a jug, mix together the cointreau (or juice) and rose water, then evenly pour this over the sponge to soak fully. Spoon the cooled cranberry mixture on top, followed by a sprinkling of 75g of the nuts, then add the custard for the next layer.
  3. Lightly whisk together the cream and icing sugar until soft peaks form and spread this on top of the custard. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or preferably over night.
  4. When ready to serve, decorate the surface of the trifle with the remaining nuts and orange zest. You can also add some edible silver or gold dragee balls for that special Christmas touch. 
Luxury Star & Holly Mince pies
Luxury Star & Holly Mince pies

Luxury Star & Holly Mince pies

Makes about 20
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 20-25 minutes

You will also need: a 5 cm star-shaped cutter and small holly leaves cutter (or these can be cut out by hand), 2 x 12-cup fairy cake tin

2 x 375g ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
flour, for dusting
egg yolk, for glazing
demerara sugar, for sprinkling
For the mincemeat:
25g blanched almonds
25g pecans
grated zest and juice of an orange
grated zest of a lemon
50g ready-to-eat dried figs
25g ready-to-eat dried pears
25g ready-to-eat dried prunes
25g ready-to-eat dried apricots
25g dried cranberries
25g cut mixed peel
1 small apple, cored, peeled & roughly chopped into small pieces
60g molasses sugar
30g suet
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C, fan 180C, gas 6. Begin by making the mincemeat. In a large food processor, add all the dried fruit and nuts until roughly chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients and whizz again until combined. Set aside until needed (this can be made up to 2 weeks ahead stored in an airtight container in the fridge)
  2. Unroll the pastry and cut out 20 x 7cm circles, re-rolling on a lightly floured surface as necessary. Gently push the pastry rounds into the base of the bun tins. Add a spoonful of the mincemeat to fill each one.
  3. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut out 10 star shapes and 20 holly leaves. Decorate each pie with either two holly leaves or a star shape. Use the remaining pastry to form small balls (for the berries) for the centre of each holly mince pie. Brush the top of each pastry decoration with the egg yolk and sprinkle with demerara.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is lovely and golden. Either serve warm straight from the oven or allow to completely cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
Caramel fudge
Caramel fudge

Caramel fudge 

Makes about 36 squares
Prep 5-10 minutes (plus cooling)
Cook 20 minutes

450g molasses sugar
200ml double cream
150ml whole milk
125g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
25g whole almonds, roughly chopped (optional)

  1. Lightly oil a 20cm square cake tin. Place all the ingredients bar the vanilla into a large heavy based pan and heat slowly, stirring until the butter melts and sugar dissolves.
  2. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat to a rapid simmer and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent it catching on the base of the pan, for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the sugar thermometer shows that is has reached 117C. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Beat the mixture with a spoon for a few minutes until it starts to thicken and the gloss disappears. At this stage, add the almonds if using. Carefully pour into the prepared tin and leave to set at room temperature. (do not put in the fridge)
  4. Once set, chop into squares and store in a sealed container.   
Christmas gingerbread hanging biscuits
Christmas gingerbread hanging biscuits

Christmas gingerbread hanging biscuits

Makes about 40 small cookies
Prep 1 hour with decorating
Cook 20 minutes

You will also need: christmas biscuit cutters, a skewer, ribbon for hanging, 2 baking sheets lined with baking paper, rolling pin

125g unsalted butter
2 tbsp black treacle
2tbsp golden syrup
225g light muscovado sugar
450g plain flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp whole milk

To ice:
red sugarpaste
rolling pin embosser of your choice
royal icing
small piping bag and piping nozzle 1.5
edible gold or silver dragee balls, optional
edible cream or silver glitter

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C, fan 150C, gas 3. Place the butter, treacle, golden syrup and sugar in a pan and heat gently until the butter melts and sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and spices and pour the sugar mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  3. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda into the milk and add to the bowl. Combine to make a dough, adding a little more milk if necessary.Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge to cool for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Roll out the dough on a surface lightly dusted with flour and cut out shapes using the Christmas cutters. Transfer on to the baking sheets slightly spaced apart, and bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and whilst they are still soft, make one hole in each with the point of a skewer large enough to thread some ribbon through, then leave to completely cool on a wire rack.
  5. Roll out the red sugarpaste to about 5mm and finish with one last roll using the rolling pin embosser. Stamp out using the christmas cutters, and smaller versions of the same shape if you wish. Pipe some royal icing onto the biscuits and carefully transfer the red sugarpaste on to each one. Decorate with dots and lines with the royal icing and/or dragee balls as you wish. Finish with a dusting of edible glitter. Once the decoration is dry, thread some ribbon through and tie together with a knot or bow ready for hanging.

All my recipes are featured on www.bakingmad.com and use Billington’s sugar, available in supermarkets nationwide

About prettyediblestylist

Cookbook author, Food and recipe writer, Food and Prop stylist, Photographer, Jo Malone London stylist, Estella Cupcakes founder. Instagram: @prettyediblestylist
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