Easy French seasonal recipes including many traditional dishes from my travels. Includes a database of egg yolk recipes and many gluten-free dishes, cakes and desserts.

Honey and Lemon Sablé Biscuits

It was a sign: Corsican lemons asking to be picked from the basket, still with their leaves on and prickly branches. I filled a large bag and, dreaming at the Monoprix checkout, thought about all the lovely desserts I could make with them. Corsican hubby would be pleased.

Then Lucie suddenly came down with a virus all last week while Mummy bear tried to calm her scratchy throat and racking cough with hot lemon and honey drinks. Finally when the fever subsided after a few days, it was my turn for the symptoms; then Antoine; like crashing dominoes, we were. The lemons didn’t make it to dessert mode.

Corsican lemons with leaves

The oversized jar of honey, bought from the market at Apt last summer, was also our best medicine. Miel de Garrigues, or honey from the Mediterranean coastal regions from such typical wild shrubs as lavender, thyme, sage, rosemary was the perfect soothing addition to drinks, yoghurts and to coat our favourite weekend brioche (thank you, freezer!).

brioche with pink pralines

Feeling sorry for myself (I’m a typical Aries – I’d hate to live with me), I felt the love circulating via friends with hints on the best remedies on Facebook – thank you!  Next time I’ll try that turmeric drink, Belinda, but with no turmeric in the house, that really felt like cheating.

However, I’ve also been thinking about the new website, and so Jérôme’s suggestion, “More egg yolk recipes?” was also welcome. I’ve gradually been building up a list of yolk recipes and you’ll be happy to hear there are plenty more waiting for you in my forthcoming book, Teatime in Paris. Meanwhile I’m adding more to the list here on le blog.  After all, we are mad about macarons, and we need to use up these yolks tout de suite.

honey lemon biscuits or cookies from the yolk recipe collection

Luckily I hadn’t lost my appetite. Come teatime this weekend, the end of the honeypot was looking rather concrete and unappetising.  With only a few seconds in the microwave, the last of the liquid nectar was just too good to down all in one go, so I found these biscuits on the internet.

I say biscuits with my Scottish accent, my Amercian friends call them cookies, the French call them sablés, so what on earth was I supposed to write as a title?  Incidentally, the French refer to them as sablés since as you mix the butter and flour together with your fingertips, it resembles sand (our breadcrumbs reference). Crumbs; isn’t that fascinating?

honey and lemon sablé biscuits

Honey and Lemon Sablés

Recipe slightly adapted from 750 grammes French website for Petits délices au miel.  I reduced the sugar slightly and added a pinch of salt. I used a stronger honey (like mountain honey) which flavours the biscuits beautifully.

Makes about 40 sablés (depending on the size of your cookie cutters)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

250g plain flour
60g sugar
130g softened butter (unsalted/doux)
2 egg yolks
2 tsps lemon zest (unwaxed)
3 tbsp runny honey (Accacia)
pinch salt

1. Measusre the flour in a large bowl.  In the centre, add the sugar, softened butter, lemon zest, honey and salt. Mix all together well with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (or sand – sable – as the French say) then add the egg yolks.
Alternatively, if you have a stand mixer, mix all the ingredients together for a couple of minutes maximum until well blended together.

2. Split the dough into 2, cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan. Remove the dough from the fridge and film and roll out with a rolling pin to about 5mm thickness.  Cut the dough using your favourite cookie cutters.  Put the biscuits on a baking tray covered with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.  Bake for 10 minutes.

4. Leave the cookies to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes (this will make it easier to remove them) then cool on a wire rack.

honey love-heart and star sablé cookies

I was planning on coating them with a ginger and lemon glaze but after having tried the first ones, I can honestly say they don’t need any fancy toppings.  They are delicious and tasty enough on their own. Although don’t forget the tea! Serve with a pot of Darjeeling with a twist of lemon.

Hearts for the girls and the stars go to my Antoine. Get better soon, darling!

P.S. If you have any ideas for the new website, your suggestions are more than welcome. 

Chocolate Coffee Fondant Cakes

“I’m starving!” Lucie flew in the door with the rain blowing in with her. “Canteen was terrible today so I only ate some baguette.”

Normally my bunnies are flexible eaters at school but somehow there are a few days in the year where apparently la cantine doesn’t even meet the I’ll-just-eat-it-because-I’m-hungry mark.  I wasn’t much better: if that had been the kids, I’d have scolded them. I’d just returned from an extra bendy weekly yoga session (feeling wobbly and stretched to 2 metres) and, having only downed a yogurt for lunch in a rush, suddenly thought of a warming yet healthily wicked, quickly-made pick-me-up.   Besides, Lucie needed energy before disappearing again for a fencing practise. Enough excuses?

chocolate coffee cakes using briochette moulds

Then Julie arrived like clockwork: dump rucksack, throw off Converse – shoelaces still done – blocking the front door and stairs. “What’s for goûter, Mum? Canteen was rubbish, so I ended up …. oooooh, what’s that amazing smell?  Chocolate?”

We like plain and simple chocolate cake, or perhaps a layered chocolate cake with ganache, but we love squidgy individual chocolate cakes when they’re fast to prepare and, even better, packed with good quality chocolate (no less than 64% cacao solids) and less sugar.  Over the years we’ve surprised ourselves, as gradually we’ve become used to reducing sugar with more bittersweet tasting chocolate in recipes after some happy sampling of the likes from the wonderful pâtisseries that Paris has to offer.

chocolate coffee fondant cakes

No fancy food photo props here.  Luckily I had a couple of minutes (yes, that’s far too long for hungry teenagers!) to attempt to focus on them with my telephone camera!

I also make lighter chocolate moelleux (lava) cakes for dessert with more eggs. What I love about this recipe, is that it’s easier on the butter than in most fondant cakes I’ve tried plus it has a more intense chocolate taste, with the coffee bringing it out even further.  A little goes a long way but boy, it’s packed with fatigue-fighting and stress-bashing magnesium! They’re dense: a perfect warm and rewarding teatime treat.

quick chocolate mocha fondant cakes with coffee glaze

Recipe Chocolate Fondant Cakes with Mocha Glaze

Adapted from part of a recipe by Jonathan Blot (one of my favourite pastry chefs, of Acide Macaron in Paris) in the 4th issue of Fou de Patisserie magazine.

Makes 6 using a non-stick silicon muffin tin or briochette mould

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 6 minutes

70g butter
100g good quality chocolate (64% cocoa solids)
1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
2 eggs
50g caster sugar
30g plain (all-purpose) flour

Chocolate & Coffee Glaze

45g chocolate
20g/20ml espresso coffee

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°fan (Gas mark 6).  Measure out the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water.  Add the coffee powder and stir until just melted.

2.  Take off the heat then add the sugar and beat in the eggs until mixed together.  Add the flour in one go until completely mixed.  Place the moulds on a baking tray then spoon into non-stick (I used flexipan silicone moulds – briochette shaped) moulds. If you’re using regular muffin moulds, butter them lightly before filling with batter.

3. Bake for only 6 minutes (yes, I know it’s exact but don’t cook any more than this if you prefer them squidgy).

4. Meanwhile, make the glaze: make a small cup of espresso coffee (ideally directly into a small measuring cup).  Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Add the hot coffee and stir until melted then spread over each cake.

The cakes are even better eaten next day after overnight maturing.  They can last in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  You’ll see how they are dense in chocolate!  I also added thin bits of chocolate from Patrick Roger as a decoration but as the kids were wanting them quickly, they melted and oozed down the cake here…

chocolate fondant cakes with chocolate coffee glaze

Just after I made them, I noticed on Instagram that it was National Chocolate Cake Day on 27th January.  Isn’t it fun how the US celebrate treats during the year? Liz Berg had the same idea for Chocolate Cake Day, with her deliciously runny lava cakes at That Skinny Chick Can Bake. Well no wonder: they’re so quick, comforting, nourishing, easy, delicious and totally satisfying.  Next time I’ll do what I normally do and push in a square of pear in the middle of each cake before baking.  And for the perfect Valentine’s Day treat, sprinkle on golden edible lustre and top with macaron hearts!


 

A quick question: do you bake using digital scales?

I thoroughly recommend using digital scales when baking. If you’re used to ounces, it’s easy to flip the switch on scales.  If I give the equivalents in ounces in this recipe, I’m into messy-looking 3/4 oz and 2 1/4 oz etc.  Digital scales are easy to find, not expensive to snatch up and you’ll discover that your baking will have constant successful results!

The French’s Favourite Casserole: Blanquette de Veau

What a week this has been in and around Paris. There’s no need to fill you in further here but as you can imagine, we have turned to French comfort food.

In the Annex of Mad About Macarons, I have suggested recipes for using up egg yolks before saving the whites for your macarons. This is one of them: it’s the French’s favourite winter warmer classic, Blanquette de Veau, most often translated as Veal Casserole in White Sauce.

Blanquette de beau French casserole recipe

Veal Blanquette is a pure and simple French Grandmother’s dish which is passed on from family generation to generation.  It’s a casserole that’s so simple to prepare – there’s no need to brown the meat beforehand; instead the veal is just placed in a large pot together with its partners in taste and, as it bubbles away merrily, you can get on with other things.

‘White sauce’ doesn’t sound too sexy, does it?  Blanquette sounds fancier in French but the English translation just doesn’t give it justice.  It even sounds a bit bland.  To me, white sauce conjures up dull images of a plain béchamel sauce with flour, milk and butter.  This casserole couldn’t be further from plain!  For a start, there is no flour in the sauce; instead, the casserole is simply thickened by reducing the natural stock at the end and whisking in egg yolks and cream with a flourish of nutmeg and lemon juice.

French veal casserole in white sauce

It’s also Antoine’s favourite casserole – as long as it’s full of flavour.  It has a rich, creamy fragrant sauce with a hint of lemon and, for me, the touch of cloves just gives it that extra touch of warmth.  When it’s packed with comfort and flavour, you can see why the French consider it their favourite national stew!  It may be seen as family fare but serve this at a dinner party and it works – ça marche!

It only really works, however, if you carry out the necessary extra steps at the end, otherwise the taste is nothing like the real thing.  I’ve seen recipes that just use crème fraîche and don’t take the time to whisk up the classic sauce using egg yolks to complete the dish. I’ve tried them and the resulting taste is well, bland. Let’s say it’s like making a curry without any spices…

My favourite French butcher in Le Vésinet near Paris

Blanquette de Veau is from our Ile-de-France region of Paris.  My local butcher, Monsieur Le Corre, is passionate about hunting and takes great pride in his best quality meats, often showing me the simplest way to prepare some classic cuts with a different twist (I’ll post on this later).  He’s also partial to showing off his latest catch, too!  For a blanquette, ideally you’ll need a mixture of best quality veal: mainly breast and shoulder. If you can’t get good veal, then  chicken will also work well (use free-range, if possible). To cook meat (or fish) “en blanquette” just simply means there is no need to brown the meat but the cooking process is long so that the meat melts in your mouth.

The last couple of steps to thicken the sauce are so worth taking the time.  Have I stressed this enough yet? In true lazy gourmet style, however, I cheat a bit in the recipe by using frozen pickling onions from Picard, our favourite French frozen store.

creamy veal casserole made like the French

Recipe: Blanquette de Veau

Recipe slightly adapted from one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, France: The Beautiful Cookbook – Authentic Recipes from the Regions of France by The Scotto Sisters and Gilles Pudlowski.  This book is full of the French classic dishes – I’ve particularly found that the savoury dishes are spot-on each time.

Preparation Time: 35 minutes
Cooking Time: 2.5 - 3 hours

1.5kg veal (mixture of breast & shoulder), cut into chunks
1 onion
3 cloves
bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs parsley)
1 leek (white part only), sliced
2 carrots, cut into chunks
250ml white wine
150g crème fraîche
2 large egg yolks (or 3 medium)
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Garnish:
24 small pickling onions (or use frozen)
24 small button mushrooms (Champignons de Paris)
30g butter
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Stud the onion with the cloves.  Place the veal in a casserole dish and add the carrots, onion, leek and bouquet garni.  Pour in the wine and add just enough water to cover the meat and vegetables.  Bring to the boil, skimming the surface for the first 10 minutes of any scum.  Cover and simmer gently for 2.5 hours. 

ingredients for blanquette de beau French casserole recipe

No need to brown the meat – just place the ingredients in a pot!

2. About 45 minutes before the end of cooking, prepare the garnish.  Wash mushrooms, pat dry and cut into halves or quarters, depending on their size.  Fry them without any oil or butter in a non-stick pan until they have given out all of their juices.  This concentrates their flavour.  Add 25g of the butter and the lemon juice to them and set aside. Sauté the onions in a small pan with the rest of the butter until golden.

vegetable garnish for blanquette de veau

3. Lift the lid of the casserole dish and smell these flavours!  Discard the bay leaf and thyme stalks. Remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large serving dish, adding the mushrooms and pickling onions.  Set aside and keep warm in a cool-moderate oven.

Blanquette de Veau French veal pot casserole

4. Boil the cooking liquid over a high heat until reduced.  Meanwhile, in a bowl, hand-whisk the crème fraîche, lemon juice, yolks, grated nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper.  Blend in 3 tablespoons of the hot stock then quickly whisk in the yolk mixture back into the stock.  Stir constantly until thickened but do not boil (it will reduce its subtle flavours). Whisk until the sauce is smooth and velvety.

how to reduce sauce for a blanquette casserole

Pour the sauce over the meat and serve with basmati rice.  This dish is also lovely reheated the next day.  For busy gourmets, this dish can be prepared the day before a dinner party.  Just prepare steps one and two in advance then chill in the fridge.  Make the sauce on the day of serving and voilà!

classic blanquette veal casserole recipe

Antoine loves to serve this with a delicate white wine, such as an Alsace Riesling or Pinot Gris, otherwise a St. Véran, Marsannay or other Burgundy will be fabulous.

Don’t forget to pop in and join me on Instagram for a daily dose of more photos, chatter and life in and around Paris.

Cheers to you all for a peaceful and harmonious week, wherever you are!

#JeSuisCharlie

Happy New Year with a Cheesecake from Paris!

Happy New Year to you from a chilly Paris!  I hope you all had a chance to have a good break, pick up a book now and again, stick your feet up and enjoy spending time with the family.  If you’re like me, you may have also spent much quality time in the kitchen – but it’s my favourite, cosy haven to concoct new dishes and bring out old favourites to the table, making the family happy bunnies.

Orange and cinnamon cheesecake with macarons for Teatime in Paris

A cheesecake fit for a King or Queen this Epiphany and for a macaron blog

While I’m making the traditional royal French Galettes des Rois this week for Epiphany, I’ve also had a crescendoing urge to make … cheesecake!  Julie is the greatest cheesecake fan I know –  training her eye to spot them from a distance – as New York-style cheesecakes are gradually appearing more in Parisian pâtisseries. Since her major discovery of Gontran Cherrier‘s deliciously tangy Yuzu and lime cheesecake, festive shopping trips to St Germain-en-Laye up the road have had a major attack on her pocket money. So, Mum to the rescue, it was high time to stock up on some cream cheese and make one family-sized this weekend.  Besides, I wanted to ensure she was eating enough fruit.  Excuses over.

orange cheesecake decor close-up

In my RECIPES TO DO pile, has been the most sumptuous-looking cheesecake on the 7th cover edition of Fou de Pâtisserie magazine: by Chef Jean-François Piège.  He owns Thoumieux: a restaurant, a hotel and brasserie (see my reviews here), plus one of my favourite pâtisseries in Paris, Gâteau Thoumieux – at 58 rue Saint Dominique.

Chef Piège’s ingredients’ list is precise with 401g of cream cheese, but I should have taken note in step 2 that you only need 300g of the base – I used all of it in the recipe which was too much for a 16cm diameter cheesecake mould.  The next time I make this, I’ll reduce the base by a 1/3 and add a little more butter, just to keep it better together.  However, the extra base was excellent as a crumble topping!  The cream cheese was divine – I added half the zest of an unwaxed orange, just to give it that extra tang.  He doesn’t mention this, but I recommend that your cream cheese filling ingredients are all at room temperature in order to mix well.

Teatime in Paris with cheesecake and macarons

Le Cheesecake de Gâteau Thoumieux

Recipe by Jean-François Piège and Ludovic Chaussard (Paris), extract from Fou de Pâtisserie magazine, September-October 2014 Number 7 (Cover feature).

Serves 6
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Biscuit base:

260g plain flour (type 55)
110g butter 1
55g icing/powdered sugar
1 egg
1g salt
1g orange and lemon zest
(I added 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
65g butter 2
35g soft brown sugar

Cream Cheese:

400g Philadelphia cream cheese (or St Moret, Kiri)
50g sugar
55g single cream
1 egg yolk
2 eggs
(I added the zest of half an unwaxed orange) 

Decoration:

Rose petals, coriander and parsley flowers, quenelles de mascarpone, almond streusel (According to the winter season, I instead used physallis, pomegranate jewels and my leftover macarons – over to your imagination!)

1. Make a shortcrust pastry with all the ingredients except the Butter 2 and soft brown sugar.  Bake the pastry then, using a paddle beater of a mixer, break up into pieces when cool. (I mixed all the ingredients to a crumb consistency like shortbread and baked in the oven at 160°C fan /180°C for about 15 minutes). Add the Butter 2 and brown sugar.  Mould 300g of the cheesecake biscuit round by 16cm diameter.  Set aside.

2. To make the cream, mix the Philadelphia cheese with the sugar then gradually add the yolk, eggs and cream together.

3. To finish, pour the cream mix over the base and bake at 90°C for about 1 hour 15 minutes.  Leave to cool in the fridge.  Just before serving, decorate with the above suggestions.

orange cinnamon cheesecake with macarons

Another reason to have a stock of macarons in your freezer ‘bank’!

Now that we’ve devoured plenty of sweet treats this festive season, I’m back to soups and lighter savoury delights for a few days.  All the extra courses are now beginning to hang like a brioche over the jeans, which is not so sweet!  So it’s back to the yoga tomorrow but I also fancy trying out chef Piège’s Pizza Soufflé, a popular signature dish in his brasserie.

Join me on Instragram and Facebook for a daily dose of photos from Paris and the suburbs – this week I’m sure you’ll see scenes from the Sales (les Soldes) as of 7th January, plenty more Galette des rois cakes decorating the pastry shop windows and baking them chez ze Colonnas.

Cheers to you and a delicious 2015!

 

Festive Desserts with Macarons and Peppermint Creams

This has been a fun and busy year.  I’ve been so lucky to have you popping in to say hello or sharing in the fun on Mad About Macarons, either here on le blog or on Facebook.  And most of all, thank you for buying my book!  I have loved hearing from you via book reviews and from the Readers’ Forum.

I thought this was a good time to give a short round-up of desserts from le blog that are perfect for this time of year – and also ideal to serve with your macarons!

desserts with macarons

Whether it’s the most wicked of dark chocolate cakes, the tangiest of lemon tarts or the creamiest of riz au lait or rice pudding, desserts during the holiday season just love that extra je ne sais quoi: Parisian macarons!

If it’s lighter desserts you’re looking for, what about this roasted caramelised pineapple with vanilla and passion fruit recipe.  Serve with exotic fruit macarons or what about chocolate, coconut and passion fruit macarons? All from the book.

roasted caramelised pineapple dessert

If you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen but fancy some quick and tasty no-bake chocolate desserts, then what about some black forest chocolate puddings, chocolate orange creams or chocolate & candied chestnut cups? What’s more, they are handy egg yolk recipes, so that you can save your egg whites for making macarons a few days later.

chocolate pudding no-bake easy desserts

Since it’s perfect pear season, why not poach some firm, comice pears in coffee and serve with chocolate-moka macarons?  Here’s the recipe for vanilla and coffee poached pears.

 poached pear and coffee dessert with macarons

 Like Amelie Poulin, for crème brûlée dessert lovers who are addicted to cracking the ice-rink of sugar with your spoon, any chocolate – or chocolate-whisky – macarons are happy holiday partners. Try chocolate-passion fruit crème brûlées or whisky toffee frozen crème brûlées.

creme brulee desserts with whisky, chocolate or passion fruit with macarons

Funnily enough, Antoine seems to eat more ice cream when it’s cold outside than any other time of year.  I don’t think that’s completely French somehow, but a lemon ice cream (served with lemon macarons or tutti-frutti, for example), candied fruit or Plombières (no churn) ice cream, or pistachio-vanilla-wasabi ice cream (served with pistachio macarons) can certainly be a refreshing end to any festive meal.  My favourite at this time of year has to be the vanilla and chestnut ice cream, served with vanilla macarons or coffee macarons.

ice cream desserts with macarons

I couldn’t talk about desserts without mentioning one of our favourite macarons: rose.  These are delicious served with a white chocolate mousse with orange blossom and rose, pistachio panna cottas, or red fruit bavarois desserts.  Before we know it, Valentine’s Day will be upon us!

light desserts with rose macarons

And don’t forget the savoury macarons that have their very own chapter in the book!
Here are some suggested festive starters or appetisers that can give your guests the oh-la-la with some mini mad macs!

spiced pumpkin and leek soup with curry macarons

Before you go, let me show you some peppermint creams I made this week – quite by accident!

peppermint cream easy recipe

As you’ve noticed on le blog, I’ve been rolling rather a lot of snowballs and mini Christmas puddings lately.  Well, as I was making more Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowballs, I ran out of coconut.  As the fondant centres were just looking up at me, saying ‘Cover me!’, I quickly added a few drops of peppermint essence (or oil) to the melted chocolate and as soon as the chocolate hardened, these peppermint creams just vanished!  I guess Julie and Lucie liked them…

I shall definitely be making more of these soon.  Homemade peppermint creams are super – none of these E numbers in the ingredients – just sugar, potato (yes, you heard me right), good dark chocolate and peppermint!

peppermint creams recipe

A  huge thank you et merci beaucoup to all of you for following and sharing in the fun on le blog.  Have a wonderful festive season and I so look forward to sharing many more treats – and big news – on the blog in 2015!  I’m off to get packed.  Exceptionally, I’ve closed comments since I won’t have access to the website or emails but I’ll be hanging out as usual on Instagram and Facebook, my lovelies. See you soon x

In the meantime, wishing you all the happiest and healthiest 2015!

Happy Holidays!

 

Express Mini Christmas Puddings

I’m on a roll again.  Have you noticed all the snowballs coming out of our kitchen lately and it hasn’t even been snowing yet in Paris?

Healthy, easy, no bake, no fuss and festively tasty.  Put these welcome words together at this time of year and you get … express mini Christmas puddings! They taste of Christmas and they’re nut-free.

Unless Scrooge arrives or Antoine changes my mind, this weekend I’m looking forward to sitting en famille to watch the girls’ favourite Christmas movie, The Polar Express, and nibble on a few of these bonbons without any guilt.  Do you love that film? It just brings out the kid in us again and makes adult responsibilities drift aside for a couple of hours. We somehow become more aware of bells jingling in the distance…

mini Christmas pudding bonbons

This recipe started out as ‘snowballs’  from my Scottish Granny’s Black Book, using only oats (mainly), raisins, cocoa powder and milk then covered in  desiccated coconut.  After experimenting with Granny’s recipe, I’ve rather altered them since I found them far too sweet. I also wanted an extra Christmassy taste with the addition of more dried fruits, gingerbread spice and orange peel, especially.  For the snowball look, just roll them in desiccated coconut.

quick and easy spicy dried fruit christmas snowballs

We started out as snowballs – look!

However, a couple of years ago, I saw the most gorgeous picture of mini Christmas puds on Pinterest, via the blog, IncludingCake. I had pinned it to remind myself to make them one Christmas – so thank you, Jo, for the pudding inspiration!

So how do we give these snowballs a make-over Christmas pudding effect?  To cover, melt white chocolate or make up a quick icing of icing/powdered sugar with a little orange juice – or why not a boozy splash of Grand Marnier, just to be naughty (but for adults only.)?

healthy gingerbread spice christmas pudding bonbons

Mini No-Bake Express Christmas Puddings

This recipe is inspired by Granny’s recipe in her Black Book and so I’m sure it came from a magazine, the Sunday Post newspaper or the Jimmy Young radio show back in the 70s.  If you’re watching over, sorry for altering it so much, Agnes, but I know you would have loved them! Do

MAKES APPROX 25

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

50g raisins
40g dried apricots, finely chopped
40g dates, finely chopped
5 tbsps orange juice
60g (+ 40g for snowballs) desiccated/shredded coconut
60g caster sugar
40g oats
40g orange peel, finely chopped (or the grated rind of an untreated orange)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
50g coconut oil
2 tsps gingerbread/pumpkin spice

For puddings, to cover:

50g white chocolate
approx 25 dried cranberries (or glacé cherries)
green marzipan (optional)

1. Place all the above ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with a spoon until all the flavours are well blended.  If the coconut oil is solid, melt very gently for just a few seconds in the microwave.

Mixing spiced dried fruits to make Christmas pudding bonbons

2.  Form little balls by rolling a couple of teaspoons of the mixture at a time in the palm of your hands (you could say this is a handy recipe!).  Set aside on a plate or baking sheet and place in the fridge for a few minutes.

3.  To cover, either melt 50g good quality white chocolate in the microwave (or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water - bain marie) or make up some classic icing by mixing icing/confectioner’s sugar with a teaspoon of orange juice (or Grand Marnier for the adults).  Dribble this on the top to form the sauce effect and top with a dried cranberry (craisin) or bit of glacé cherry and green marzipan, cut to shape.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Best eaten at room temperature with your favourite cup of tea at teatime or festive sparkly.

mini nut-free, healthy christmas puddings

Wait a minute.  Please stop what you’re doing, just for a few moments.

Don’t make a sound. Just listen. Do you hear them? Sleigh bells jingling faintly in the distance.

I’m off now. Back to some responsibilities, like setting up the crèche to really get in to the Christmas spirit and remind the children what Christmas is really about.

Before I go, I’m absolutely thrilled and honoured to be featured with such impressive company in the Huffington Post’s 2014 Best Cookbook Gifts for Cooks and Food Lovers on Your List.  Thank you for adding Mad About Macarons to the list, Jamie Schler. What a lovely sweet ending to the year!

Good luck and have fun with all of your Christmas and holiday planning!