Friday, December 25, 2009

The giving season

Merry Christmas, everyone! Like Rachel, Christmas Day happens a little earlier for me since I'm in Australia- I'm presently slumped on the couch in a food coma after an amazing lunch with every relative who lives in this state (this is so rare, I can't even begin to tell you). I made all the food (and I loved every minute of it), and they did all the washing up- the world is as it should be! We've been spoiled rotten with lovely presents, and just now I'm thinking this might be one of the best Christmases we've ever had.

Last year was not so good- we'd been out of hospital for only eight days after spending an awful month in there after the birth of my daughter. While things were looking pretty good for her, they were also very uncertain- there was a chance that the severe brain injury she suffered at birth might leave her completely disabled.

Needless to say we have a lot to be thankful for this year after Sophie proved them all wrong and turned out perfectly healthy.

But feeling thankful doesn't seem like enough after all the things people did for us last year, and on our minds this year were the nurses, doctors and midwives of the neonatal intensive care unit who have to spend Christmas holidays apart from their families in order to look after very sick newborns. So, not being able to give much, I decided I'd make a big platter of Christmas treats to take to the hospital for those working the holiday shifts.

The staff were delighted to see it, but even more delighted to see my walking, talking, bright-as-a-button bundle of joy (who gave her old nurses high fives and big waves hello and goodbye). I felt really pleased that we'd been able to bring them a little bit of Christmas joy.

Now, I know not all of you have miracle babies and medical professionals to delight, but just saying- if you have the time and the baking inclination, this could be a good thing to do for a hospital (or a Ronald McDonald House, or something like that) in your area next year.

Anyway! Here's my platter:

And here are the recipes for the goodies, as a Christmas present to you :) If you need to convert from metric to imperial, I recommend this awesome page at Diana's Desserts. I hope you all have a wonderful day full of love and laughter.

Cranberry white chocolate shortbread

250g butter
125g icing/ powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
300g plain flour
75g dried cranberries, chopped
100g white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
Cream the butter, sugar and essence until very pale.
Stir in flour, chocolate and cranberries.
Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on baking trays. Flatten each ball with a fork, then place the trays in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until slightly golden.
Cool 5 minutes on the tray then transfer to a cooling rack.
Try not to eat every last one there and then.

Scottish tablet (a kind of slightly hard fudge)

1kg caster sugar
1 tin (c. 400g) of sweetened condensed milk
100g unsalted butter
100mL fresh milk

This recipe is so easy (no candy thermometer required!), but at the same time there are some technical steps which are best illustrated with photos. So go here for the whole story.

Peppermint bark

200g milk chocolate
200g white chocolate
9- 10 candy canes

The easiest of the lot.

Melt the milk chocolate (in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan of boiling water), then spread it out on a baking tray. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Crush the candy canes (I placed mine between sheets of plastic wrap, then wrapped that in a tea towel and hammered the crap out of it with a meat mallet :))
Melt the white chocolate (as above). Spread it over the milk chocolate, then sprinkle it with the crushed candy canes and press them slightly into the chocolate.
Return to the refrigerator until ready to serve- then break into pieces.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing the recipes Claire! That platter looks divine!