Festive Fortnight [12]: Christmas Tree Meringues

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!

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Festive Fortnight [10]: Chocolate Cookies with Mint Icing

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!

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Festive Fortnight [8]: Gingerbread Cupcakes

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!

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Festive Fortnight [6]: Hot Chocolate On A Stick

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!

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Festive Fortnight [4]: Candy Cane Marshmallows

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!

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Festive Fortnight [2]: Cranberry Orange Almond Bundt Cake

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!

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Cinnamon Sugar Blondies with Pecans

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!

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Autumnal Speculaas Brownies

I really love brownies. And I really love experimenting with brownies. You can do so much with them! For example, I made these lemon and ginger brownies last year and they were delicious. So a few weeks back, when I was feeling all autumnal and stuff and the idea for these brownies popped into my head I was excited immediately. And boy, was I right to be.

THEY ARE SO GOOD.

I’ve used speculaas in quite a few of my recipes on this blog already, and I always feel a bit conflicted, since it’s a typically Dutch biscuit and I’ve got no clue if you can get them elsewhere (except for Belgium or Germany). I really really love speculaas, though, so I’m going to put up this recipe anyway, and provide a few alternatives in the list of ingredients! For example, if you’re in the UK, you could try using Ginger Nuts instead – it would be slightly different, but really tasty still, I think.

As for the rest of the recipe; it’s just like all of my other brownie recipes – very simple, just throw in the extra ingredients along the way, and you’ve got yourself a delicious brownie with a little twist.

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Apple Crumble

Who doesn’t love a good crumble? Ages ago, I posted a recipe for a crumble with pear and berries, but today I’ve got a true classic for you all: an apple crumble! As with any apple dish, I also added a splash of almond liqueur because that’s just smart thinking.

I made this one last week for my birthday dinner with my family, and everyone loved it. The crumble was gone in its entirety before I knew it! I served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which made it even more delicious. It was the perfect dessert for a wonderful evening!

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Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’m not gonna lie – I’d completely forgotten about this recipe. I was planning on posting something different when I came across the pictures of these muffins, which had me all confused. The time stamp on them tells me I made these mid-August, but it took me a while before I remembered. Ah, well, we’re all getting a little older, I guess. After racking my brain for a little bit, and finding the piece of paper which I’d hurriedly written the ingredients on, I vaguely recall making these.

I mostly remember tasting them and going “yummmm”, though. These were really good! I love me some coconut, and it goes really well with the banana. And everything goes well with chocolate, so this couldn’t not be a success. All those great ingredients do make for a bit of a long name, though; it’s quite a mouthful. Have I made that pun before? I must have.

Shenanigans aside – these muffins are delicious, and done in a jiffy. Enjoy!

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