Recipes from New York Christmas Baking

GINGERBREAD PEOPLE

GINGERBREAD PEOPLE

These little figures made out of sweet, spiced dough have a long history. One popular fairytale tells the story of an old couple who baked a gingerbread man, only to have him escape from their oven. Decorating gingerbread people with icing is great fun and is easy to do using ready-made icing pens. Alternatively, combine some icing (confectioners’) sugar with just enough milk to make a thick glaze. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a very small nozzle and get creative!

INGREDIENTS
Makes about 25–30
210 g (7½ oz) plain flour
1¼ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
85 g (3 oz) butter, at room temperature
90 g (3¼ oz) raw sugar
1 egg yolk
50 g (1¾ oz) molasses

For decorating:
1 white icing pen
Also:
Flour for dusting
Sift the flour with the spices, bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt into a bowl and set aside. Beat the butter in a separate bowl until creamy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Stir in the egg yolk and molasses.

Add the flour mixture in several batches and mix to a smooth dough. Cover and rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line two baking trays with baking paper. Lightly dust your benchtop with flour and roll out the dough about 3 mm (1/ 8 inch) thick. Using a cutter, cut the dough into people shapes and transfer to the trays. Bake for 8–12 minutes, depending on size. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Decorate with icing.

Download printable recipe (PDF)

 
MINI CRANBERRY PIES

Mini cranberry pies

Feel free to experiment with different fruits in these pretty little delicacies. Try using blueberries or raspberries instead of the cranberries, for example. They are lovely served with a pot of coffee and enjoyed with friends.


INGREDIENTS
Makes 12
350 g (12 oz) plain flour
120 g (4¼ oz) raw sugar
3 Tbsp ground pecans (or ground almonds)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
150 g (5½ oz) cold butter, diced
50 g (1¾ oz) white chocolate, finely grated
1 egg

For the filling:
400 g (14 oz) cranberries
110 g (3¾ oz) raw sugar
2 mandarins
1 Tbsp cornflour

Also:
Butter for the tin
Flour for dusting
1 egg yolk for glazing
Combine the flour, sugar, pecans, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.

Add the butter and chocolate and rub in quickly until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg, add to the dough and knead until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

For the filling, combine the cranberries and sugar in a saucepan.

Wash the mandarins under hot water and pat dry. Grate the zest and add it to the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, juice the mandarins.
Combine the juice with the cornflour and add it to the cranberries with a pinch of salt. Simmer for another 1 minute, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and lightly butter a muffin tray. Roll out the dough about 4 mm (3/ 16 inch) thick on a lightly floured surface. Use a cookie cutter to cut out 12 circles, 5 cm (2 inches) each. Line the muffin holes with the dough and spoon in the cranberry filling. Cut another 12 circles, about 6 cm (2½ inches), out of the remaining dough. Cut a small heart shape out of the centre of each circle, then place on top of the pies.

Whisk the egg yolk until smooth with 1 Tbsp water and brush over the pies. Bake for 12–14 minutes, until golden brown.

Download printable recipe (PDF)

 
STAINED GLASS COOKIES

Stained glass cookies

If you’re looking to make some special Christmas cookies, try these pretty stained-glass cookies. The powdered lollies melt in the oven to create colourful little ‘windows’. They also make lovely Christmas tree decorations: simply make a hole in the cookies before baking and then pull some pretty ribbon through the hole.

INGREDIENTS
Makes about 60
300 g (10½ oz) plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
200 g (7 oz) butter, at room temperature
120 g (4¼ oz) raw sugar
1 egg
1½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp grated lemon zest
About 180 g (6 oz) hard lollies in various colours

Also:
Flour for dusting
Combine the flour with the baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar in a separate bowl until creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Fold in the flour mixture in two batches to make a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F) and line two baking trays with baking paper. Sort the lollies by colour and pulse to a fine powder in a small food processor. Transfer to bowls, separated by colour.

Dust your benchtop lightly with flour, roll the dough out thinly, about 3 mm (1/ 8 inch), and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes, such as Christmas trees, stars or baubles.

Transfer the cookies onto the trays. Cut out small shapes from inside the cookies and fill these with a little of the powdered lollies. If you are planning to use the cookies as decorations, also make a small hole for the ribbon. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes, and leave to cool on the trays.

Download printable recipe (PDF)