Believe me, I’m no chef but I try to bake with Little Miss A at least once a week. She really enjoys being my helper and I was really pleased when she asked if we could make gingerbread men. So I thought it would make a fun for Little Miss A and I to bake the cookies ourselves and then when her friends came over for a Christmas playdate, they would “decorate” their own cookie for snack (Editors note: I would suggest an adult pipe the cookies!!).
Mix: Sift 3 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon each baking soda and salt, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves and allspice into a bowl. In another bowl, mix 6 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar and 3/4 cup molasses; beat in 1 egg with a mixer. Beat in the flour mixture in two additions. Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic and pat to 1/2 inch thick. Chill 2 hours.
Cut: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. On a floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to 1/4 inch thick, dusting with flour, if needed. Cut into 3-to-5-inch gingerbread men and arrange 1 inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Brush off excess flour and chill 15 minutes.
Bake: Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool, then decorate with Icing.
Icing: Combine in a mixing bowl, 1 1/3 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon milk. Stir in enough of the remaining milk to make the desired consistency. Tint with food coloring, if desired.
To Decorate: Transfer the icing to a resealable plastic bag; snip the tip of one corner. For dots, hold the bag at a 90 degree angle. For outlines, hold it at a 45 degree angle. Pipe onto the cooled cookies. Set out small bowls of mini Smarties or chocolate buttons for the children to decorate.
I have great memories about baking truffles with my family for Christmas and I hope Blondie will have the same in the future. It was fun rolling the chocolate paste into marbles and pouring them in the powder ingredients.
For approx. 50 bites
- 400 g good quality dark chocolate diced into very small pieces
- 20 cl fresh cream
- 40 g butter (diced at room temperature)
- An assortment of powdered ingredients to roll the truffles in. I use unsweetened cocoa, coconut flakes, icing sugar or powdered almonds.
Prepare the chocolate paste in advance: Break the chocolate in small pieces in a bowl. Heat up the fresh cream in a small saucepan. When it’s almost boiling, pour it over the chocolate, blend them together. When the mixture is smooth, add the diced butter, stir until no lump remains. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.
Once the chocolate paste has hardened. Use a spoon to scoop out some chocolate paste, and shape it into a ball the size of a big marble with your fingers. Pour the powdered ingredients onto small plates. I think that the best is to roll the truffles in the powdered ingredient of your choice right before serving.
I am planning to give some truffles to Blondie and Bonny’s teachers as Christmas presents. I have bought crystal wrapping paper and ribbon to wrap them in.
Warning: remember to leave the butter at room temperature for a good while before you start. You shouldn’t prepare truffles last minute becasue the chocolate paste needs to be placed in the fridge for a while before you can make the truffles. Make sure that the chocolate is cut into very small pieces otherwise it won’t melt properly once you pour the heated fresh cream on top of it.