Monday, December 10, 2012

Ninja-bread men: let's start this season right

The Tae Kwon-do Christmas party was this week and having been confined to the couch for so long I was excited to go. I also had a family event to attend on the same evening so I would be jumping straight back into socializing and Christmas prep.

On the day, I got out of work, got to the gym as fast as possible, worked out like a devil, got home, cleaned up, picked the outfit, made the dough for these ninjas, chilled the dough while doing the hair and make-up, cut the cookies,chill the cookies, baked the cookies, cooled and decorated them, strapped on the high heels, wrapped up warm and hit the road. At the family event we walked around for 2 and half hours and then I head to............headed to................gonna go to...............bed. As it turns out, you can't quite go from 0-100mph when you're just better. Damn! So these cookies didn't quite make it to the party, but they were enjoyed none-the-less ;)

These are definitely a twist on gingerbread, there is very little ginger if I'm honest. However with all the flavour packed into them you will barely miss it. They have an amazing combination of dark chocolate, orange, ginger and almonds that make a wonderful alternative to the ole gingerbread men and to say that these little guys pack a punch is an understatement. I chopped the chocolate and almonds into tiny slivers so that they would disperse throughout the entire cookie;I've included a little video below showing how I cut the chocolate for these. I've zero knife skills but hopefully it will give you an idea of what to do.

Ninja-Bread Men (Dark Chocolate, Orange, Almond and Ginger)

150g         Unsalted Butter
200g         Sugar
400g         All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp      Baking Powder
1/4tsp       Salt
1/2 tsp      Ground Ginger
1               large Egg
1 tbsp       Milk
1 tsp         Orange essence
100g         Dark Chocolate very thinly sliced
100g         whole Almonds

Preheat your oven and toast the almonds for 10 minutes. Beat together the butter and sugar. In a separate bowl sieve together the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger. In a jug, beat together the egg and milk. Slowly add the flour and egg mixture alternating between the two until the mixture is combined. Don't worry if the mixture appears dry at this stage, the oil from the nuts is an important element of this recipe. Chop your chocolate as thinly as possible, almost shaving the chocolate with the knife and then chop the almonds as thin as possible also. Add the nuts and chocolate and beat until everything is fully incorporated.

Chill the dough for 2 hours or so and then roll out. Cut with the gingerbread men cutters of your choice. Preheat the oven to 190'C/375'F/Gas Mark 5. Chill for another 20mins before baking for 10minutes. Cool on a wire rack and decorate with icing sugar and little stars =)

Monday, December 3, 2012

A bit of down-time before the storm

I am frequently jealous of Americans for having Thanksgiving. It's like a warm up to the big event with just enough time in between for a breather. Here the Christmas seems to set in on November 1st and I even found myself shopping with my sister on the 15th November and feeling bad for not being in the Christmas mood yet. What?? This madness is catching!

Image Property of Universal Press Syndicate

Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas. I love the mood, the weather, the time with family and, obviously, the food. The one thing I do not like is the commercialism and the sense of panic that spreads when people are running around looking for the perfect gift. As I have mentioned before I make edible gifts for all my friends at Christmas and I hope to continue this tradition, probably adapting the edible goodies as time goes on, but keeping the essence of the handmade gift forever. Even if I had all the money in the world and could pay someone to make treats for everyone I know that I would still do it myself, because the point is to give them something from the heart, something that took time and effort and a little love to boot.

One of my usual presents

This panic for a bought gift, however, is somewhat inevitable, even when you start early like I did last year there are always a few people that you are unsure of, or for whom the perfectly planned present could not be acquired. Still it's only the 2nd December, and for reasons we will ignore for the moment I was confined to the couch this weekend, so I decided to put the feet up and relax. I watched 'Miracle on 34th Street,' 'The Muppets: A Christmas Carol,' and thoroughly soaked up the Christmas feeling at it's best. But I am aware that this is the second weekend I haven't baked so to make up for that I thought I would share some other items that I have worked on until I start some of the Christmas cooking next week. I hope you enjoy these little pics.

This cowl scarf was designed specifically for my rough and manly bf, it is thick and sits very close to the neck making it a perfect fit under a jacket.

To match his scarf I also knitted him this little hat, which he is very proud of, despite some first timer idiosyncrasies

Honeymoon first Stops: Boston and Las Vegas

We left London on A Saturday afternoon and flew to Boston, arriving in at 7.30pm Boston time. We somewhat regretted flying from London when ...