Things To Do With… Christmas Leftovers

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! All that build up, months of planning, crafting, shopping, wrapping and baking… and it’s finally over for another year. What does that call for? More baking! So here is a collection of recipes I have tried to help you use up all those Christmas leftovers…

Pasnip & Maple Syrup Cake (Uses 250g parsnips)
A delicious cake with a fresh mascapone filling. It also contains apple and pecans and feels like a healthier alternative to all that Christmas indulgence.

Brie & Cranberry Tartlets (Uses 250g cranberry sauce and approx 200g brie)
The perfect canape for a New Year’s Eve party that also clears out some of that leftover Christmas cheese. They are also vegetarian and incredibly moreish!

Sweet Potato Brownies (Uses 250g sweet potato)
A healthy no-sugar brownie recipe with a honey cream cheese topping.

Carrot & Orange Cake (Uses 200g carrot)
You can’t beat a carrot cake and this one has a delicious marmalade infused buttercream on top.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza (Uses 1 medium size cauliflower)
A low carb alternative to regular pizza, perfect for that January diet!

Leek, Cheese & Potato Pie (Uses 4 leeks and 3 large potatoes – or use half for a smaller pie)
Give hot water crust pastry a try and make this tasty pie. This recipe is for a very large pie, so if you have less people to feed, halve the ingredients.

Other ideas from around the web…

One for the Brussel Sprouts:
Bubble and Squeak Patties
I saw this recipe on TV the other day, and thought it sounded so simple and delicious. You could use a different cheese for the filling if you like a stronger flavour.

One for the Turkey:
Turkey & Chorizo Empanadas
I love chorizo and this recipe will instantly change the flavour of turkey, giving it that Spanish feel. You could also make these with leftover chicken and other meats.

One for the Christmas Pudding:
Christmas Pudding Trifle
I don’t like Christmas pudding, but I reckon if you surrounded it with custard, cream and delicious orange and brandy, I would eat the whole thing! You could also use Christmas cake in this recipe.

One for the Panettone:
Panettone Pudding
I haven’t had bread and butter pudding in ages and this version using panettone looks so indulgent, you could even splash in a little brandy!

One for the Cranberry Sauce:
Cranberry Sauce Muffins
This super simple recipe creates delicious muffins, great for breakfasts or snacks.

One for the Stilton:
Asparagus & Stilton Tarts
This is always the cheese on the cheeseboard that gets leftover. These tarts are so versatile too, try adding some ham or bacon, or mix in other cheeses like cheddar and brie. Try making your own pastry too!

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Bûche de Noël (Yule Log)

After watching the Great British Bake Off Christmas Special with Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood showing us some of their favourite Christmas bakes, I just had to make Mary Berry’s Bûche de Noël! They also made Christmas cake and pudding – unfortunately I stand in the camp of not liking Christmas pudding – so the Bûche de Noël was a great alternative idea.

I made the ganache topping first because it has to cool down and set in the fridge for a few hours. I heated 300ml of double cream on the hob until it was quite warm. Mary says for it to be just hot enough that you can still hold your finger it in.

I mixed in 300g dark chocolate until it was smooth and glossy. I left it on the window sill to cool to room temperature, then popped it in the fridge for a few hours while I made the rest of the Bûche de Noël.

I missed the boat on taking photos during this point, apologies! I used my food mixer to whisk up 4 eggs with 100g caster sugar until it was frothy. Then sifted in 65g self-raising flour and 40g cocoa powder and folded it into the egg mixture gently so as not to lose the frothiness.

I put it into a lined baking tray (I don’t have a swiss roll tin, but this works just as well) and baked on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 8-10 minutes. It sprang back up when I pressed it with a fingertip.

I prepared a sheet of baking paper dusted generously with icing sugar, I tipped the sponge out onto this while it was still hot, peeled off the baking paper it was baked in, and used a knife to make a grove along one end about 2cm from the end. Then I rolled the sponge up as tight as I could, taking the paper with it. I left it to cool fully still wrapped in the paper.

Once it was cold, I whipped up 300ml of cream, I’d say to use less as I had a lot left over. Unless you want extra cream to serve with the Bûche de Noël!

I unrolled the sponge and spread out the cream onto it using a palette knife.

Then I rolled it up again, I was pretty happy with the neatness of my roll!

I cut the roll diagonally at one end and positioned on a serving board to look like a branch.

The ganache was nice and thick by now. You want it to be as thick as a butter cream. I used a star nozzle and piping bag to pipe the ganache in lines along the roll, and swirls at each of the three ends.

A dusting of icing sugar and it was ready to eat! Sadly I didn’t have a faux holly sprig to decorate with, but I still think it looks pretty good! This is the first time I’ve followed a Mary Berry recipe exactly, and it worked perfectly with all her instructions and tips, she really is a genius!

I have also entered this into Blue Kitchen Bakes Classic French Challenge!

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Christmas Cupcakes

I’m really feeling the Christmas spirit at the moment! Especially as it’s my last day in work this year (I’ve got 12 days off over Christmas!) and we are having a huge, delicious, food-filled buffet on my team. My contribution was these Christmas cupcakes. The Snowman Cupcake you see above, and an attempt at Santa Hat Cupcakes further down this post. I also got baking goodies in my Secret Santa gift, which I am very pleased with!

First I must introduce you to the new love of my life…my food mixer!! It’s by Andrew James and is a slightly early Christmas present. It cut the time it took me to make these cupcakes down by about 90 minutes! Mixing by hand takes so long, I love this machine! It has four attachments, 6 speeds and is just generally fabulous.

The sponge for these cupcakes is Red Velvet, so I started by mixing 165g butter and 300g caster sugar until softened and fluffy.

I then added 2 tsp vanilla extract and 2 eggs, and mixed some more.

I weighed out my dry ingredients, which were 70g self raising flour, 200g plain flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, and 20g cocoa powder. I added these to the bowl along with 225ml milk.

I mixed it all well and added an absolute ton of red food colouring! It still didn’t go as red as I wanted, but I had to save some of the red food colouring for the red icing I was doing for the Santa Hat Cupcakes. I used gel colour as I heard it was stronger, but I wasn’t pleased with it at all. I think I will stock up on Sugarflair colours as they seem to be the strongest pigments and you need much less of them and get a brighter colour.
I got 12 large and 12 small cupcakes out of this batter. I baked them on 175C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20mins. They definitely weren’t as red as I wanted.
I wanted my icing to by pure white, so I got this icing whitener. However a whole bottle of it later and my icing was slight showing a hint of yellow. I didn’t realise how much of this needed to be used either! 

My ‘white’ buttercream was made by mixing 300g icing sugar, 2 heaped tsp cream cheese and 150g butter.

My red icing was made with a whole heap of red food colouring (and some pink when I ran out of red!), 200g icing sugar, 100g butter, and one 1 heaped tsp cream cheese. I also added a bit more icing sugar at the end as the amount of food colouring I used made it go quite wet.

I started with decorating the Snowmen Cupcakes first. I swirled white icing on the tops, keeping it quite flat.

I decorated marshmallows with writing icing for the snowmen’s heads.

I pressed the marshmallow head onto the buttercream.

I wrapped three strawberry laces, cut to length, around the snowman’s neck for the scarf.

I snapped an orange chocolate stick in half for his arms, and used three liquorice cakes for his hat. And Mr. Snowman was ready! I thought he looked super cute, but a cocktail stick would’ve been handy to keep his head and hat on his body. as the hat was heavier than the head I did have some decapitation issues!

I decorated the Santa Hat Cupcakes with a swirl of white icing using a star nozzle, then a big swirl of not quite red enough icing with a circle nozzle, and finally a little blob of white on top for the hat’s bobble. I thought these looked cute too, but a few people had trouble recognising what they were! Taste for both cupcakes was rated highly, so I can’t complain!

This might be my last post before Christmas day, so I want to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas! And thank you for reading! Hope Santa brings you all the baking goodies you want! 🙂

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The December Lust List

The festive season is finally here! My Christmas tree is up, cards have been written (and sent to both local streets and foreign lands), and most importantly of all, I have made a decent start on my present shopping – finally! I’ve already been enjoying festive treats such as mulled wine, mince pies, Baileys hot chocolate, and a gingerbread house. Here are some baking goodies I would love to find under my Christmas tree…

KitchenAid Artisan Grape Food Mixer
Harts of Stur £409.00
My absolute dream gift! And in purple my favourite colour. I am not ashamed to admit I actually stroked one of these on display in Selfridges. I will have one of these beauties one day, it would make my baking life a lot easier. Especially mixing batters and buttercream.

 
Star Swirly Cupcake Stand
Lakeland £3.99
Lakeland have got some great products for baking. This cupcake stand would be perfect for displaying your festive bakes, and could be used again at other occasions like birthdays. Plus, it’s a bargain!

Giant Snowy Christmas Tree Cookie Cutter
Cakes, Cookies & Crafts £4.99
I recently discovered this website and purchased this cookie cutter (along with several other items!) It’s 8 inches tall so great for giant Christmas tree cookies!

Chocolate In The Post
The Grown Up Chocolate Company from £25.95
This company sends you a selection of quality award-winning chocolate in the post for as many months as you desire! Yes please Santa!

Spherical Cake Tin / Christmas Pudding Mould
Richmond Cookshop £15.50
I’ve never seen anything like this before, they look like they’re from space! These moulds will help you achieve a perfect spherical shape to cakes and puddings. What a stunning effect this would give, everyone will be wondering how you did it!

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Mince Pie Variations

Cranberry & Orange Mincemeat Squares

I had planned a couple of months ago to make my own mincemeat, but life got in the way and I didn’t quite get round to it. So instead I decided to add flavour to basic mincemeat, the first I came up with was cranberry and orange – very Christmasey flavours. I did this by adding dried cranberries, 2 tsp orange essence and the zest of one large orange to a jar of brandy infused mincemeat and mixing well. You can add more or less orange depending our your taste, or more alcohol if you fancy!

These mincemeat squares are made using puff pastry. I decided against making my own puff pastry, because frankly, it looks very time consuming and difficult! This time of year can be hard work, so why not make things a bit easier for yourself I say.

I found this Jus Rol Light Puff Pastry in Tesco. Christmas is such a time of indulgence, so it’s nice to save some calories where you can! And it still tasted just as good!

This pastry is so easy to use. I just defrosted it and rolled it out on a floured surface to the recommend size on the pack.

I trimmed the edges, then cut it into squares. I wasn’t overly concerned about neatness here.

Score a smaller square in the centre of the pastry square with a sharp knife. This will stop it from puffing up in the middle where your filling is. Add about a teaspoon and a half of mincemeat – depending on the size of square you cut out – and brush the edge with beaten egg. Leave a 1 cm gap at least for the edges.

Bake on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 15-18 minutes. Or until the pastry has gone golden brown and puffed up.

Leave to cool (the mincemeat gets very hot in the oven so be careful if you want to eat these warm!) Enjoy alone, or with ice cream, cream, or custard. I think these are a fab and easy alternative to standard mince pies! So simple to make and they look great.

Blueberry & Lemon Mincemeat Cups

The second mincemeat flavour I created was blueberry and lemon. I did this by adding dried blueberries, a good glug of lemon juice, and the zest of one lemon to a jar of basic mince meat. This was so yummy and lemoney! Definitely my personal favourite of the two.

I’ve made shortcrust pastry several times and never had problems with it, so I made my own for the cups.

In a large mixing bowl I put 175g plain flour, and 85g grated butter. TIP: Grating the butter makes this process so much easier and saves you a lot of time. I then rubbed the flour and butter together until it formed breadcrumbs, then stirred in 45g caster sugar.

I added one egg and used my hands to bind the mixture together into a dough. I kneaded it briefly (1-2 minutes) on a floured surface until the dough was smooth. Then I wrapped it in cling film and chilled it in the fridge for 1 hour.

I rolled the dough out onto a floured surface and used a round cutter to cut out circles. I greased a cupcake tray with butter and places the circles of dough into the tray, and pricked the bottom of the dough with a fork twice.


I filled them up with the mincemeat and baked on 175C/325F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes. The pastry should be golden and crispy all over – especially the bottom!

A dusting of icing sugar and they were done. I took these into work and both mince pie variations got gobbled up quickly. Really pleased with how this turned out as the idea of flavouring mincemeat was just a random thought I came up with. What other mince pie variations have you eaten or made?

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Spiced Banana, Choc Chip & Bourbon Loaf

 

I started the evening I made this with the plan to make a loaf version of the Pumpkin & Chocolate Brownies I made in October. However, I forgot to get any cream cheese, which was one of the main ingredients. Luckily, my housemate had left some bananas on the side, with a note saying they were unwanted. So a banana cake it was! With a few extra flavours to jazz it up a bit.

Into a large bowl I sifted 145g plain flour, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp ground ginger. I added 1/4 tsp salt and stirred it all together.

In another bowl I mashed up 2 bananas with a fork. It’s best if the bananas are starting to brown, don’t use the just ripe ones as they will be too firm.

In a third bowl I creamed 110g caster sugar with 55g butter.

I added the mashed up bananas along with 1 egg, 50ml milk, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and mixed well.

 

The flour mixture then went into the banana mixture, along with 50g chocolate chips and 2 tbsp of bourbon (you can also use brandy).

I poured the mixture into an 8″ x 5″ loaf tin.

I baked it on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas 4 for 45 minutes – I covered it with foil for the last 10 minutes so it didn’t burn on top.

The final loaf is moist and delicious, the mixture of banana, spices and chocolate flavours are divine! I think it would also make good mini loaves.

Spiced Banana, Choc Chip & Bourbon Loaf
December-10-2012

Ingredients
145g Plain flour
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground ginger
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Bananas, ripe
110g Caster sugar
55g Butter
1 Egg
50ml Milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
50g Chocolate chips
2 tbsp Bourbon/Brandy

Instructions
Into a large bowl sift the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ground ginger. Also add the salt and stir it all together
In another bowl mashed up the bananas with a fork
In a third bowl cream the caster sugar with the butter
Add the mashed up bananas to the caster sugar and butter mixture, then add the egg, milk, and vanilla extract, mix well
Add the flour mixture along with the chocolate chips and bourbon (or brandy)
Pour into an 8″ x 5″ loaf tin. Bake on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas 4 for 45 minutes – cover with foil for the last 10 minutes so it doesn’t burn on top

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Mince Pie Cupcakes With Brandy Buttercream & A Butterscotch Drizzle

This is a combination of ideas and recipes I’ve seen, and they’ve all inspired me to make these cupcakes. The idea of mince pie cupcakes is something I’ve read about around the web a few times, from other bloggers and from recipe websites. I think Nigella Lawson does a version as well. Some have had the mincemeat mixed into the batter, and others in the centre of the cupcakes. I decided to put mine in the centre, and lavish it with brandy buttercream and a butterscotch drizzle.

I made the cake batter by creaming together 220g butter and 220g soft light brown sugar. I then added 4 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract, and mixed well. Then I folded in 220g self raising flour and 1 1/2 tsp mixed spice. And finally mixed in 1 tbsp brandy. This makes about 15 large cupcakes.

 I baked in a muffin tray on 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5, for 15-20 minutes, until they were golden brown.

I cut out little divets from the cakes with a sharp knife.

And filled them up with a luxury mincemeat from Tesco that was laced with brandy and port. This is the one I used.

I made the buttercream by mixing 340g icing sugar, 170g butter, 2 heaped tsp cream cheese, and 3 capfuls brandy. God this tasted good! Brandy is delicious stuff!

I used my large star nozzle from Jane Asher to pipe the icing onto the cupcakes.

I got the butterscotch sauce recipe from Whitworths Sugar. I made it by melting 125g butter, 175g soft light brown sugar, and 150ml double cream. Let it simmer gently for 3-4 mins, then cool until thick. I also added a capful of brandy, because it makes everything taste better!

I drizzled the sauce onto the cupcakes. It was better the next day when it had really thickened up.

I have to say that these cupcakes are probably the tastiest thing I have ever made. I ate four of them.

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Mince Pie Cupcakes With Brandy Buttercream & A Butterscotch Drizzle
Ingredients
  • 515g Butter
  • 395g Light brown sugar
  • 150ml Double cream
  • 5 tbsp Brandy
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 220g Self raising flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Mixed spice
  • 200g Mincemeat
  • 340g Icing sugar
  • 2 heaped tbsp Cream cheese
Instructions
Start by making the butterscotch drizzle. Heat up 125g of the butter, 175g of the soft light brown sugar, and the double cream in a pan at a medium heat. Let it simmer gently for 3-4 mins, then take of the heat and add 1 tbsp of the brandy. Put it in the fridge to cool and thicken up, ideally overnightTo make the cupcakes cream together 220g of the butter and 220g of the soft light brown sugar. Add the eggs and the vanilla extract, and mix well. Then fold in the self raising flour and mixed spice. And finally mix in 1 tbsp of the brandyBake them on 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5, for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brownCut out the middle of each cupcake using a cupcake corer or a sharp knifeFill each hole with the mincemeatMake the buttercream by mixing together the icing sugar, 170g of the butter, the cream cheese, and 3 tbsp of the brandyPipe the icing onto the cupcakes using a star nozzle and piping bagDrizzled the sauce onto the cupcakes right before serving
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Gingerbread House

This year I decided to make a Gingerbread House after seeing all the gingerbread construction efforts of the Great British Bake Off contestants. I’ve never even made gingerbread before, let alone assembled it into a stable structure. I was excited, but also nervous to make the house. As you can see above it was a success and I’m so proud of my Gingerbread House! Here’s how I made it…

No that’s not cheese! It’s grated butter. This is an excellent way to get butter softened quickly, and also makes dough making of any kind a lot easier. I’m so glad I tried this tip – I highly recommend you give this a go. In a bowl I put 600g plain flour, 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 200g (grated) butter and rubbed the mixture together with my hands until it formed fine breadcrumbs.

Then I added 3 tsp ginger, 3 tsp mixed spice, and 300g soft light brown sugar and stirred in. You can also use dark brown sugar if desired.

In a pan I gently heated 8 tbsp golden syrup, I let it cool and whisked in 2 eggs.

I didn’t use a cookie cutter set for this house, I made my own template. I started with the side piece, and decided it should be 8″ long and 3 1/2″ tall. I then used these measurements to make the rest of the house. It also helped that my boyfriend is very handy at maths!

I made a well in the flour mixture, and poured in the eggs and golden syrup. I combined the mixture together until a dough formed, and kneaded it until smooth. Make sure your work surface is floured well.

I rolled out the dough and used my template to cut out the shapes of the house. Two sides, the front, the back, and two roof pieces. I kept the dough fairly thick so the house would be sturdy, and I didn’t want to risk the pieces breaking apart after baking. About 5mm should be ok.

I placed them onto lined baking trays and baked at 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5 for about 15 minutes.

They came out lovely and golden brown. I let them cool fully on cooling racks.

I decorted the house the next day. I mixed icing sugar with a little water to create a thick paste and piped window and door shapes onto the pieces with a piping bag and a small circular nozzle.

I bought a variety of sweets to decorate the house, and stuck them on with the icing.

I used chocolate jazzies to tile the roof, and plenty of icing to make sure they stuck. Once the icing dried it was pretty solid and nothing fell off.

I decided to use caramel to stick the pieces of the house together. I heated sugar and 1 tbsp of water until it went golden. I kept the caramel on a very low heat whilst I stuck the pieces together. This kept it liquid, but stopped it from burning. I didn’t take any photos during assembly as it was very tricky, and also I burnt myself with the hot caramel. Word of warning when using hot caramel – be careful!! It hurts a lot if it gets on your skin, and for several hours…

I started with the front piece and stuck both the sides to it. Then I put the back on, and finally the roof. Caramel hardens very fast so you have to work quickly, and an extra pair of hands is highly recommended.

I added a little Christmas tree at the front of the house and dusted the whole thing with icing sugar for a “snow” effect. The base used was a glass chopping board covered in foil. You can add gingerbread people to the base, or anything else you fancy.

And the house was complete! So pleased with it! I couldn’t bare to eat any of it or destroy it, so I left it with my boyfriend to do the dirty work.

I also made some yummy Christmas shaped cookies with the leftover dough…!

I made them again a few weeks later and gave them out as gifts in pretty bags tied with ribbon.

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