Tomorrow is Christmas day, which means today is the very last day of the Festive Fortnight ! I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone by! Of course, two weeks isn’t a very long time in the first place, but still. I started preparing all of the past thirteen posts in November, and now they’re all up. Time does fly when you’re having fun!
And I did have a lot of fun! I won’t lie, it was a bit stressful at times, but I’m really happy with all of my posts. The idea for the Festive Fortnight was born out of the fact that I wanted to post more Christmas recipes and bake more Christmas-themed stuff. Well, that definitely worked out great!
Considering the fact that I did have to think of thirteen posts for the past two weeks, my imagination has run dry right about now, which is why today will be a simple round up of everything that’s happened this Festive Fortnight. The links to all of the posts (except the first one, which was the announcement) are below the pictures!
Before we get to that, though, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
Happy Christmas Eve Eve! It’s nearly Christmas and I cannot wait. Yesterday was my last day of work for the year and now I’ve got eleven days off! There will be tons of reading and relaxing and doing absolutely nothing and it’ll probably be over before I know it. Like this Festive Fortnight – tomorrow is the last post already. I feel as if we’ve only just started!
Today I’ve got a fun post for you that involves both books and baking (the perfect combination, of course). A few years ago I posted a book and dessert pairing guide, with a graphic made by Shari’s Berries. A few days ago, they got in touch with me again about a Christmas version of such a guide. It seemed like the perfect post to include in my Festive Fortnight!
Below, you’ll find twelve books about Christmas and a fitting dessert to go with them. I’ve scoured the web for recipes for these desserts – I hope there’s something to your liking! Perhaps this will provide you with some inspiration for Christmas dinner…
These Christmas Tree Meringues are the last recipe of the Festive Fortnight (cue “aaaaaw”s – there’ll still be two other posts, though) and they might be my favourite! I came across the concept of these meringues at a Dutch blog (Laura’s Bakery) and I immediately figured they’d be perfect for the Festive Fortnight. Ever since I got my free standing mixer, I’ve loved making meringues! They’re absolutely delicious treats and you can go all kinds of ways with the decoration.
The last time I made them I used food colouring gel to spruce them up for the first time, and I decided that I would use that same technique to paint these Christmas trees with some festive colours! I used red and green – the obvious Christmas colours – but you could also use all green if you want the meringues to resemble Christmas trees even more.
I based my meringue recipe on this recipe by CupcakeJemma and if you’re unsure how to make a good meringue, I’d definitely recommend watching her video. I tried to be as clear as I could in my instructions, but actually seeing what you’re supposed to be doing will beat any description I can give. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the process, but Jemma describes everything super clearly.
These are so yummy, and they were gone before I knew it. My father in particular is a huge fan of meringues, but, then again, he’ll eat anything that has sugar as its main ingredient, it seems!
Just looking at the pictures of these cookies makes me incredibly happy. They look so cute and festive! Plus, I know how they taste as well and let me tell ya; they are delicious. These cookies are a huge success all around.
This is the first time I made royal icing myself. Last year, when I made gingerbread cookies (which looked similar to these chocolate cookies) I bought ready made royal icing, because I couldn’t find a place to buy corn syrup. This time I had a little more time and did a little more research, and I found out you can just as easily use golden syrup, which I’ve got lying around in my cupboard anyway. The icing is super easy to make, and the mint really takes it up a notch.
The cookies themselves are wonderful, too. They’ve got a very rich chocolate-y taste and the texture is just right as well. And like the icing, they’re super easy to make! Just make sure you’ve got some time, because the dough will need to chill in the fridge for an hour. Apart from that, it’s a quick recipe with standard ingredients. Perfect for the Christmas holidays!
These gingerbread cupcakes were a hit! I made them for a birthday party and everybody loved them. I have to say, I was amazed by how incredibly delicious they turned out. I’m not the biggest fan of cupcakes (I’m of the opinion that frosting is highly overrated) so I don’t make them that often, which made this recipe a bit of an experiment. But it was definitely a succesful one!
The molasses are the big winner in this recipe, I think. Of course, they’re quite integral to gingerbread cookies and thus to gingerbread cupcakes, but I’m in awe with just how much extra depth the molasses bring to the flavour. The ginger also definitely comes through, which I love, and it makes sure the cupcakes don’t taste too sweet.
Then in comes the frosting; it’s a cream cheese frosting and it’s incredibly soft and smooth. The dash of cinnamon adds that extra little something and makes these cupcakes fingerlicking good. I mean, I don’t want to blow my own trumpet too much, but I’m pretty darn proud of these!
Those tiny little cookies on top are a Dutch ‘delicacy’. They’re tiny speculaas cookies (similar to gingerbread) which are generally eaten on sandwiches (I know – but it’s delicious!). I actually wanted to use Christmas sprinkles, but couldn’t find them, so these were a makeshift solution. It looks pretty cute, though, I think!
By now I consider myself to be a pretty decent baker. I know my way around the kitchen (when it comes to sweet stuff, at least – I’m an average cook) and I can think up a good recipe.
Apparently, though, that doesn’t mean I know how to handle a microwave.
I tried to squeeze making these hot chocolates on sticks in before an appointment I had, which meant I had to hurry a bit. That wasn’t necessarily a problem, though, because this recipe is about as easy it gets: melt chocolate; mix it with a couple of dry ingredients and put it in a mold. That’s it. I went wrong on that very first step.
Because I was in a hurry, I decided to quickly melt the chocolate in my microwave instead of going for a bain marie (which is my preferred method). Imagine my surprise when I turned around and saw smoke coming from the microwave. I’d burned the chocolate. Rookie mistake. As I’m writing this, my studio apartment still reeks from it, and my lovely orange-scented candle can barely mask it.
Anyway. If you aren’t such a doofus like me, this hot chocolate on a stick is super easy to make! They make lovely little gifts for your loved ones. All they need is a mug of warm milk, and when they stir it with one of these sticks, they’ll have a delicious hot chocolate!
The second recipe of the Festive Fortnight! This is one I’m especially excited about. It’s marshmallows! I tried making marshmallows before over two years ago, and it was quite a failure. Back then I was unsure what I did wrong, but now I know I didn’t use the right type of gelatin (the stuff I used basically wasn’t gelatin at all). With that knowledge, I decided to try again.
And you know what? Making marshmallows really isn’t that hard! In fact, it’s pretty simple, as long as you have a sugar thermometer and you stick to the recipe. My recipe was based on this Dutch one. I used a little less gelatin, and I added the crushed candy canes on top for that festive touch. The candy cane also adds some extra texture and a nice mint-y flavour to the otherwise soft and sweet marshmallows.
I’m still dumbfounded by the whole process of making marshmallows, by the way. I didn’t take any pictures of the process itself, which I’m regretting now. But I watched with wonder how a mixture of water, golden syrup, sugar and gelatin (so, a transparent and slighly golden liquid) turned into white, sticky goo (or, you know, marshmallow fluff) and tripled in size during the process. Science, man! I love it.
I love how easy these were to make, and I think I’ll be trying out different versions in the future. You can go all kinds of ways with the flavour and look of these!
The Festive Fortnight has now officially started! I’ve been looking forward to this moment for over a month – and now it’s here. Hurrah!
I baked this cake over a month ago as well; it’s the first Festive Fortnight bake I made. At first, I wasn’t too sure this cake was going to be a success. It was a bit of an experiment. I’d made this recipe from scratch, and I was baking with fresh cranberries for the first time. They’re weird little buggers, aren’t they? I tasted one since I was curious what they’d taste like before baking or cooking them. Turns out, they’re pretty gross!
Anyway, despite my worries, this cake turned out absolutely delicious. It’s got a lovely almond taste, which combines magnificently with the orange and the cranberries. This cake is perfect for when you’re looking for something that is Christmas-y, but isn’t too heavy. The tang from the citrus and the cranberries made for a nice fresh contrast with the sweetness from the almond and the glaze.
Although the cake was amazing, the pictures of it didn’t exactly turn out as I’d hoped. Dusk was already starting to settle in when I took these pictures – that’s the trouble with winter, I suppose!
That sounds rather dramatic, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because I’m feeling rather dramatic about this whole macaron making business.
Back in June 2014, I tried making macarons for the first time, and it didn’t go horribly wrong, but it didn’t go right either. Then in September of 2015 I tried making them again, and my first batch failed miserably, but my second attempt went much better. Still not the way I wanted them, though. In that post I wrote the following:
I hope to make another batch of macarons soon (and not in December 2016…), because it was so much fun to try this again and I’m determined to master the art of French macarons some day…
Yes. That went well.
Anyway. I finally tried making them again. And they still didn’t turn out right. Let’s go through it, shall we? I’ll try not to be too bitter!
Oh, I’ve got a good one for you today, guys. This recipe is probably going down as one of my all time favourites. I made these cinnamon sugar blondies on Sunday, and I’ll already be making them again tomorrow.
They’re really good.
I had a casual dinner thing with a couple of my closest friends on Sunday, and I more or less promised I’d bake something and bring it with me (there was definite peer pressure involved). Since I had to take the thing I baked with me on my bike, it had to be something that couldn’t easily be smooshed, hence the blondies. Plus, I love a good blondie/brownie. They’re easy to bake, super delicious, and you can play around with the flavours endlessly.
One thing that’s still not entirely clear to me is whether blondies need white chocolate. Is white chocolate a requirement for a blondie? I don’t think it technically is, but I’m sticking with it, because it just makes sense, doesn’t it?
The cinnamon sugar is the true hero in this recipe. It really takes it up a notch and I love it a lot. Although, I must say, the pecans really add a little something too. In the middle of all the soft lovely blondie-ness, they provide a bit of a bite. Yum!