When I was a kid one of the great joys of school was heading to the canteen at lunchtime to buy a packet of lollies. I don’t eat many, if any, lollies these days, but I have such an emotional attachment to those I had as a kid. There’s almost more nostalgia-factor attached to these than anything else. One of the most popular lollies were the sherbet-ty lollies called Love Hearts. There’s a few variations of this lolly. In some places they’re called Sweet Hearts, in others they’re called Conversation Hearts. But we all recognise these little heart-shaped lollies with their corny little lovey sayings emblazoned on them. What better time to recreate them in cookie form than for a Valentine’s Day treat?
Recently I’ve been experimenting a lot with making custom cookie cutters. I’ve gotten into 3D modelling and printing as part of my cosplay/prop building hobby. I started bringing these skills across into my baking hobby, but I never quite knew how to approach it as far as the blog went. How do I custom make a tool to use and then post it here without a way to replicate it?
So I’ve started a little Etsy Shop. It’s cosplay resource heavy at the moment, but as I post the cookies here I’ll also be providing the tools I made for sale there. Some ideas, such as these, will be a bit easier to replicate using standard cookie tools than others. But the option will be there should you desire it.
Cinnamon is a common theme among these Christmas cookies. And just as well as its probably our favourite spice. Hell, is there anyone who doesn’t like cinnamon? But these next cookies don’t just have cinnamon, they are all about the cinnamon.
Zimtsterne are a German cookie and very popular around Christmas time. Traditionally served by German Jews at the meal after Yom Kippur, the star shape of the cookies represent the nightfall that signifies the end of the fast. It can vary in ingredients but these are cinnamon stars at their most basic. 4 ingredients, minimal prep and did I mention you don’t even have to decorate them? Yeah, that icing goes on before the biscuits even bake.
Today’s festive cookie is one that has more memories associated with my fiance than me. He has a great number of memories from the Dutch side of his family, particularly his grandparents, feeding him all sorts of treats. Of all the ones he’s asked me to make, speculaas are certainly one of the most requested. And what better excuse to make them than for Christmas.
Traditionally these cookies are baked for St Nicholas Day or for Christmas. As such they are also traditionally stamped with an image depicting St. Nicholas and the stories around him. I didn’t have any springerle moulds so I settled with a simple Christmas star instead.
Perhaps I’m stretching the biscuit theme a little here, but when making Klejne I couldn’t help but be reminded of another treat which is similar in method, similar in flour profile, but quite different in result. Koeksisters are a South African treat which is essentially a friend, plaited dough drenched in syrup. Another treat enjoyed year-round particularly in their native home, but often reserved for important celebrations.
Once you make them you might realise why. This is not a treat that favours the waistline. The luxuriously soft donutty dough is lathered generously in a thick, sugary syrup; and its not exactly easy to stop and just one!
Growing up around the northern suburbs of Melbourne meant growing up in a very multicultural area. Almost none of my friends were from white Aussie backgrounds and this meant I was incredibly lucky to grow up surrounded by a rich array of different cultures. One of the ways many of those cultures expressed themselves was through food. Every visit to friends’ houses after school introduced me to a world very unlike my own, and this was especially so at Christmas time. I remember so often being presented with platters full of Christmas cookies to take home of varying shapes and flavours I’d never seen before. Christmas at my house meant roast meats and salads and barbecues and pavlova and chocolate ripple cakes. But baking cookies was never one of our traditions.
This year I wanted to spend some time visiting those memories and cuisines from around the world. This year I want to send people home with giant platters of traditional Christmas cookies.
Christmas is coming! And already my kitchen has been pumping out all the Christmas-themed desserts. My family had an early Christmas get together last weekend and obviously I volunteered to make desserts. My house smells mostly of cinnamon, the tree is covered in baubles, my house is covered in lights and my dogs are covered in reindeer hats. (Spoiler alert: one of dog is happier about this than the other one!)
One might say its beginning it look a lot like Christmas.
One thing I am doing a lot this year is cookie baking. So this week is going to be dedicated solely to Christmas cookies! Starting off super simple first off, this is a way to transform any of your favourite sugar cookie doughs.
I had a lot of sugar cookie dough to use up, but this would be great with chocolate, gingerbread or any other kind of cookie dough you’re looking to make a little Christmassy with the least amount of effort possible.
Back from a small accidental hiatus. Anyone who cosplays will know full well the drama that is cosplay crunch as the convention approaches. And they’ll know just as well the con plague that hits you after. Between being busy and sick there’s been no time to bake. But now its time. My favourite time of the year is approaching. Its almost Christmas, which means it is the perfect excuse to bake and bake and bake.
This week I eased into the festive season by baking a creme brulee with a twist. I had a lot of cream to use up and I wanted to try a Christmas-inspired creme brulee that wasn’t minty. Then the inspiration hit like it was always meant to be.
Spring is undoubtedly my favourite time of the year. It would be enough that the weather is generally just perfect so much of the time. But the way the entire landscape transforms into an array of colourful blooms is just the icing on the proverbial cake. Its all the motivation I need to get out into the garden and start working.
The house my partner and I recently moved into has two large magnolia trees in the garden. As someone who is pretty passionate about having a predominantly Australian native garden I had considered replacing them. But the first spring they bloomed was all the convincing I needed to let them stay. They couple of weeks of colour the bring is more than worth it. This year when it came time for them to bloom I was inspired to use it in a cake somehow.
Was there any day more exciting in primary school than lunch order day? Everyone would turn up in the morning with their order scrawled on a brown paper bag, the couple of coins required to pay for it taped to the front. And if you were the chosen one that week you would get to be the hero who carried the shopping basket full of your classmates brown paper dreams down to the canteen. Later in the day you’d carry those same bags back packed to the brim with everyone’s favourite steaming hot junk food. Meat pies, chicken nuggets and sausage rolls were always common picks. But another one of my favourites was the good old pizza pocket. What was yours?
The thing about childhood memories is that they glisten so wonderfully in our minds, but attempts to relive them as adults usually end in disappointment. Every time we’ve bought pizza pockets as an adult it’s usually followed by a, “These used to be so much nicer,” comment. More likely, they were never quite amazing but we were much more easily impressed as children. So when the pizza pocket craving hit recently rather than re-living that disappointment again I decided to make my own!
After making the entremet last Father’s Day I had a whole bunch of mirror glaze left over. I guess I could have stored it, or tossed it. Instead I just made another cake! I did halve my usual recipes, to be fair, and made a much smaller cake than usual. After the richness of the last entremet I opted to go for something a little more on the fruity side.