Gingerbread Cookies

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I had a lovely day with my family, eating lots and lots of food – including these gingerbread cookies, which turned out to be a huge success. Definitely one to remember for next year!

I hadn’t expected to make quite as many cookies as I did – I’m pretty sure there were about 120 of them! Of course, they were quite small and not very thick, so that may have something to do with it. If I had actual gingerbread man cookie cutters there might not have been this many. Not that I’m complaining! They turned out to be delicious, and I had a lot of fun making them, especially once I got the hang of piping the icing.

This week is technically a week off, at least from my internship, but I’ll probably spend most of it working on my very last university project/assignment/thingy. January will be the last month of my internship and then I’m done with university… Out into the ‘real’ world I go – terrifying yet exciting! I do think I’ll have much more time to blog again, which is something I’m really looking forward to.

But first things first; let’s get to the recipe for these yummy cookies!

p1040374

Continue reading

Advertisements

Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing This Year

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

While I don’t celebrate Christmas in the gift giving sense, it’s no trouble for me to think of ten books I’d love to receive! Some of these books have been on my “to buy” list for quite a while, and some of them are new ones I’ve come across recently. I’d love for Santa to bring me these books as a Christmas present, but I doubt it’ll happen… Either way, I’m sure I’ll have a great Christmas, and I hope you will, too! Merry Christmas, everyone!

Continue reading

Coconut and Chocolate Christmas Cookies

It’s almost Christmas! Are you as excited as I am? I love Christmas, and all the good food and company and cosiness that comes with it. I think it’s my favourite time of the year (although I’ve said that before…). I figured I should come up with a nice Christmassy recipe before the day actually arrives, so yesterday I thought of these coconut and chocolate Christmas cookies, which you can use as decoration for your Christmas tree as well!

I’m quite proud of these cookies, since I’m not that much of a cookie expert, and precision isn’t my strong suit when it comes to baking and decoration. For a while it seemed as if they weren’t going to work out very well, as the dough was a bit too dry, but that was easily fixed! The coconut flavour comes through very subtly, and the chocolate complements it nicely.

What with it being winter and all, the sun started setting before 4pm today, so it was already pretty much dark out when I had to take pictures of the final result. Even though I love Christmas, I do hate that early sunset… The pictures turned out pretty okay, though, I think, so it’s all good!

Hopefully you’ll like these delicious cookies just as much as I do, and before I forget: Merry Christmas, everyone!

P1010883 Continue reading

A Belated Christmas Dinner with Friends

About two and a half years ago me and (most of) my high school friends graduated high school together, and after the summer of 2011 we all went to university. We’re all majoring in completely different things and we’re all very different people, but we vowed to stay friends after high school. Back then, my father warned me I shouldn’t get my hopes up too high, since most high school friendships don’t last very long after high school is over, especially if you’re with a group of ten different girls.

Now, though, he frequently tells me how great he thinks it is we’re all still such good friends.

We don’t see each other that often, but when we see each other it’s just like old times — actually even better, I think. Now we’ve all gone off to do our own things we’ve really each grown into our own personality and person. We’re no longer insecure teenagers, like most of us were back then, and we can just have fun together, even though we lead quite different lives these days.

In 2011 we decided we were going to have our own Christmas dinner. We divided the tasks and we all had to bring something — one couple made the entree, another the main course, and then another the dessert. And of course there were snacks and drinks that needed to be bought. We had so much fun that night, so we decided to do it again in 2012 and make an annual tradition out of it.

Yesterday we had our third annual Christmas dinner. A bit late, and not technically in 2013 anymore, but we didn’t care. It was just a lot of fun to all be together again!

I asked the girls if I could take some pictures and make a blog post about it, and of course they didn’t mind. The pictures are not my best work, but the night was about having fun and being together, which we totally succeeded in.

Oh, and girls, if you’re reading this; I love you guys and I’m so glad we’re all still friends!

P1000720
P1000722
P1000725

Delicious nachos and home made guacamole as entree dish.

P1000732
P1000726

A really good risotto as main course.

P1000734
P1000733

For dessert one of my friends and I made brownies (we served it with ice cream and strawberry sauce) but it was all gone before I remembered to take a picture. Oops!

If you’re interested, click here for my brownie recipe.

It was a really great night (even though it was cut short abruptly because some of us had to catch the train home) and I already can’t wait for our 2014 Christmas dinner!

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

letitsnowAn ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

First published: 2008


Continue reading

Christmas!

Christmas has come and gone again, and I hope everyone has had a great one! In the Netherlands we’ve got First Christmas Day on December 25, and Second Christmas Day on December 26. In other words, two days of great food and fun!

On First Christmas Day my entire family came to celebrate Christmas at my parents’ house. How it works in our family is that everyone brings something for dinner: My mother made two huge pots full of soup, one of my uncles made stuffed baguettes, one of my aunts made a couple of salads and another aunt and uncle brought the dessert.

I managed get to be in charge of my favourite part; the cookies and cake to go with the coffee and tea! I made a beautiful lemon gugelhupf, and Bec’s delicious Cinnamon and Almond Swirl Cookies. Although the cookies didn’t exactly turn out as they were supposed to, they still tasted really great.

P1000594

P1000597

P1000600
P1000608P1000609

My mum and I also set up a cute little étagère with chocolates and sweets my father got in the Christmas gift box he received from his work.

P1000622

P1000620

P1000619

For Second Christmas Day my parents and I were invited over for lunch at friends of the family’s place. I decided to bake something nice for that occasion as well, and went for a Banana Walnut Bread, which turned out really delicious, too!

walnootbanaanbrood

I had a lovely Christmas, with lots of people I love around me and of course lots of great food. I’m really thankful for the fact I have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in this lovely way!

How was your Christmas?

Chocolate Butterscotch Bars

Last Friday a friend of mine hosted a party: The Grand Dessert Happening (literal translation of the Dutch “Het Grote Toetjesgebeuren”). It’s basically a party to which everyone has to bring some sort of dessert or baked good. The first edition was in June, and it was so much fun! One table was completely packed with all kinds of baked goodies and everything was really delicious! This time there were fewer baked goodies, but more bottles of glühwein, which is not so surprising, since it was the Frosty/Frosting edition. It was a lot of fun, once again!

Of course, what with me being me, I did bake something for the party, and it was a great success! Taste-wise, that is, because the chocolate butterscotch bars I made looked kind of weird since the butterscotch didn’t really solidify that well.

Still, though, they tasted great (apparently — I don’t like butterscotch, so I didn’t eat these) and I figured out what I did wrong, so I can warn you about it in this post.

These chocolate butterscotch bars are perfect for a cold wintery day, perhaps with a nice mug of hot chocolate. I hope you enjoy this recipe!

chocolatebutterscotchbars3

You’ll need…

For the dough:

– 225 g plain flour

– 0,5 teaspoon baking powder

– 150 g dark chocolate

– 115 g butter, in cubes (don’t melt it)

– 50 g demerara sugar

– 2 tablespoons ground almonds

And for the butterscotch layer:

– 175 g butter, in cubes

– 115 g white caster sugar

– 2 tablespoons golden syrup

– 175 ml condensed milk

– 150 g whole hazelnuts, roasted

For the top layer:

– 250 g dark chocolate (for the chocolate layer)

You also need…

– a baking tin of 30 x 20 cm

– parchment paper

– a saucepan

– and an oven of course! The dough for the bars needs to be baked at 160 °C (don’t forget to preheat your oven)

Let’s get baking!

Make ‘n’ bake the dough! So, we start with the first layer (makes sense if you think about it). For this part you’ll need the top bit of the ingredients list (“for the dough:”). Start of by melting the chocolate au bain marie.

While your chocolate is doing its thing in the bain marie, sieve the flour and baking powder above a bowl. Now you need to add the butter and mix it with the dry ingredients in the bowl until you’ve got a nice and crumbly dough. You can use a spoon for this, but it’s more effective to use your hands. Then you need to add the sugar. Once the chocolate is completely melted add it and the ground almonds to the dough and mix everything with a spoon.

chocolatedoughlayerNow, line your baking tin with parchment paper (I didn’t do so and it was near impossible to get the bars out of it in the end) and then spread the dough in the tin. Press the dough a bit with a spoon and make sure it is spread out evenly. Pierce the dough with a fork in a couple of places. And then it’s time to put it in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes! Once it’s done, take it out of the oven and let it cool.

Prepare the butterscotch layer You can wait a little while before preparing the butterscotch layer, since the chocolate dough part needs to be baked and cooled before pouring on the butterscotch. Clean up the kitchen a little and have a cup of tea and then get cracking at the butterscotch. Put the butter, golden syrup, condensed milk and caster sugar into a saucepan and heat it while stirring until the butter and sugar are melted. Now, let the mixture stew until it’s turned a golden brown.

This is where I went wrong. I used light brown caster sugar instead of white caster sugar and that made it quite impossible to see when the mixture was done. My mixture obviously wasn’t done, and that’s why it was runny. So, I can’t really tell you how long it’ll take for yours to be done.

butterscotchlayerOnce the butterscotch mixture is done, add the roasted hazelnuts to it. Then you need to pour it onto the (now baked and cooled) chocolate dough. Make sure the hazelnuts are evenly spread out, like on the picture on the right.

Prepare the chocolate layer We’re almost done! All that’s left to do now is prepare the chocolate layer to go on top of the butterscotch. Again, melt the chocolate au bain marie. Once it’s entirely melted, pour it onto the butterscotch and spread it out evenly so everything is covered. Let the entire thing cool, until the chocolate on top is nicely solidified.

thirdlayerchocolate

Next up is taking the now still one giant bar out of the baking tin. For me this was quite a hassle, but if you’ve used the parchement paper I hope it’ll be a lot easier for you. Once you’ve taken it out cut it into bars (any size you want). Use a sharp knife and be gentle because the chocolate layer breaks easily.

And that’s it! It takes a little time, but then you’ve got yourself a nice wintery snack. I hope you enjoy.

Also: Merry Christmas everyone!

chocolatebutterscotchbars2

chocolatebutterscotchbars1

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree(s)

Today I went home to my parents’ house to help them put up the Christmas tree. We’ve got a fake tree for a few years now, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to decorate it! We put on some Christmas music, I decorated myself with a sparkly garland that was too hideous to decorate the poor tree with, and we were ready to go…

P1000523

P1000528

P1000537

P1000518

P1000521

P1000535

See that one blue bauble amidst all the red ones? My father and I put that one in just to annoy my mother… 🙂

After dinner I went home again and while biking through the streets I looked into all the windows and saw Christmas trees and other sparkly decorations everywhere. It just made me feel so festive! So when I got home I put on some Christmas music again, and took some pictures of my own tiny little fake tree which has been making my living room look Christmassy for about two weeks now…

P1000540

P1000542

P1000550

P1000544

P1000546

Christmas, come at me, bro, because I’m ready and I can’t wait!

 

BOOKS BAKING AND BLOGGING is now on Facebook! Click the ‘like’ button (bottom right) if you want to be kept up to date through my Facebook Page.