December is, for me, a time of celebration and reflection. Perhaps like me, you celebrate Christmas primarily to enjoy the family time, the good eats and the all-round cheer and twinkling lights the season offers. [Mind you, I could write a whole Third Culture post dissecting why Christmastime is so important to me, but let’s focus on the food here.]

 

When I was a child, my family typically distributed Indian sweets to family and close friends at Diwali, and I have loved practicing this with Christmas baking over the years. Filling a festive tin with all manner of cookies, biscuits and loaves, so that friends and family have something to dunk in their cups all through the season just makes me happy. This year, I wanted to create a set of third-culture recipes that celebrated old traditions, new traditions and my 2017 – the places and foods that stuck with me. There’s something for everyone in here - from the decadent to healthy, from Eastern to Western, and, from quick bakes to full-morning activities - so check-in every day to click on the recipe of the day! I wish I could I send a festive tin to each of you, but I think sharing these twelve holiday bakes is the next best option! – r. 

A quick note – I haven’t published recipes before, so please feel free to DM me questions if something is not clear! More importantly, creative and intuitive cooking is very much my style - take my recipes and feel free to make them as they are or make them your own! Let me know what you tried and how it worked. 

TCC 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS BAKEBOOK

 
 

TCC MAPLE, CRANBERRY & DARK CHOCOLATE HOLIDAY GRANOLA 

COURSE: Anytime; Breakfast

CUISINE: Canadian

SERVINGS: 18

 

DIETARY: Vegan, Vegetarian

PREP TIME: 20 min

TOTAL TIME: 2 hours

On the first day of Christmas, all I want to do is make the house smell like the holidays! So, I rustled up a granola that was all my favourite holiday smells in one bowl: cinnamon, orange, maple and cocoa. Since I’m baking in Vancouver this year, I had to use farm fresh cranberries and maple syrup. We’re really lucky to have over 80% of the world’s cranberries grown here and all of the famous maple syrup! I’m sure they have maple trees somewhere else in the world, but if it’s not Canadian, is it real maple? (Yes, it probably is – do you know where? Tell me!) 

INGREDIENTS

4 cups rolled oats

½ cup pistachios, shelled

½ cup sunflower seeds

½ cup shredded coconut

¼ cup sesame seeds

¾ cup maple syrup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp. cinnamon

½ cup olive oil

1.5 tbsp. orange extract

½ cup frozen cranberries

¼ cup coconut oil

¼ cup cocoa powder

Packed full of goodness, this granola has an amazing smell and texture. The crunchy oats, seeds and nuts are offset by some lovely vegan chocolate. Snuggle up with a bowl of yoghurt and this super healthy and flavourful granola for a guilt-free, good-for-you holiday treat. It’s easy to make, easy to store and keeps for at least four weeks in the fridge. Anytime snack = sorted. 

METHOD

  1. Make the vegan chocolate. Melt the coconut oil and mix in the cocoa powder and ¼ cup of the maple syrup. Combine well and then stir in the frozen cranberries. Spread the mixture out on a 10” dinner plate lined with parchment paper, and place it in the fridge to set.
     

  2. Pre-heat the oven to 300*F/ 150*C and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
     

  3. In a non-stick frying pan, roast the sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pistachios on a low flame for 7-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
     

  4. Mix the remaining maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, orange extract and cinnamon together on a low heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
     

  5. In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, shredded coconut and the pistachio, sunflower seed & sesasme seed mixture. Now fold in the wet mixture from Step 4 and mix it all together for at least a minute, to make sure it’s evenly distributed.
     

  6. Spread the mixture evenly on the baking trays. Cover the trays with foil and bake for one hour.
     

  7. Turn the oven up to 350*F/ 175*C. Once it reaches this temperature, remove the foil from the baking trays. Now bake them uncovered for another 15 minutes, then give the granola a good stir and let them bake for a final 10 minutes.
     

  8. Remove the granola from the oven, let it cool and break in to pieces. Now take the chocolate out of the fridge, break it in to pieces and mix it in with the rest of the granola.
     

  9. Enjoy! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four weeks (at least).

 

TCC GOLDEN BOMBAY BRIGADEIROS 

COURSE: Anytime, Dessert

CUISINE: Brazilian, Indian

SERVINGS: 30

 

DIETARY: Vegetarian, Gluten Free

PREP TIME: 20 min

TOTAL TIME: 2 hours 15 min

I fell in love with Lisbon this year. Busy, eclectic, colourful and sunny Lisbon. Lisbon reminded me of Mumbai, so, so much. I can’t precisely point out why. Perhaps the bustle? the uninhibited public celebrations?  the love of seafood? the ease of movement? I don’t know, but I felt at home very quickly.  Mumbai is one of my favourite cities in the world for the way it makes me feel – so of course I was going to love a city that reminded me of it!  I wanted to create something that took me back to the laundry lined lanes dotted with vibrant bougainvillea of Lisbon in a single bite, the way a photograph might do. This brigadeiro is it.

INGREDIENTS

1 can condensed milk (14 oz)

3 tbsp salted butter

½ tsp cinammon

¼ tsp ginger powder

¼ tsp cardamom powder

1/8 tsp clove powder

A pinch of salt

3 tbsp gold sugar sprinkles

Mini cupcake liners

Now, brigadeiros aren’t strictly from Portugal, (they’re from Brazil) but they work so well with Indian flavours, creating an almost mithai like flavour (and texture!). My chai-spiced version are easy to make and store. They make a perfect after-dessert (or anytime) bite. They’re also really pretty and make a lovely gift! 

METHOD

  1. Mix together the cinnamon, ginger powder, cardamom powder and clove powder and set aside.
     

  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the condensed milk, salt and 2 tbsp of the salted butter. Heat on a low-flame and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens, which should take 7-10 minutes. You want the mixture to reach the consistency of an aioli, so that it is no longer runny.
     

  3. Turn off the flame and mix in the spice mix. Empty the brigadeiro mixture out in to a wide, shallow bowl. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
     

  4. Prepare your rolling station! You will need the gold sugar sprinkles in one bowl, the remaining butter at room temperature to grease your hands, and the mini cupcake liners ready for the brigadeiros.
     

  5. Portion the brigadeiro mixture in to thirty equal pieces. Roll each piece between your palms to form a perfect sphere, and roll each sphere in the gold sugar sprinkles before placing it in a mini cupcake liner.
     

  6. Once you've rolled all thirty, place the brigadeiros in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. 
     

  7. Enjoy your brigadeiros! These will keep well in the fridge for up to four weeks. 

 

 

TCC HOLDAY BUTTERED PAIN d'EPICES

COURSE: Anytime, Breakfast, Dessert

CUISINE: French, Modern 

SERVINGS: Two loaves/ One 20 inch cake

DIETARY: Vegetarian

PREP TIME: 20 min

TOTAL TIME: 3 hours 15 min

Walking through the streets of Paris, I stopped in little cafes more frequently than perhaps I needed to. I was doing ‘research’ and furiously writing notes about eclairs, guimaves, perfect choux and gateau. At almost every café, I noticed slices of an inconspicuous, rather plain looking bread at the counter. This humble sliced bread looked properly out of place, in a world of luxurious eclairs and fancy rose pistachio guimaves! Always a sucker for bread, I happily added it to my ‘research’ and learned of pain d’epices. This loaf is everything – it’s spicy, crumbly and subtly sweet. It’s fairly close to an original recipe from Reims that uses rye flour without the almond flour. Perfect when toasted and slathered with coffee butter. The coffee adds a third layer of flavour to the rye and spices, which is nicely balanced out by the saltiness of the butter. 

INGREDIENTS

125gm rye flour

125gm whole wheat flour

90gm brown sugar

1 sachet (8mg) fast-acting yeast

2 eggs at room temperature

250gm honey

¾ cup whole milk

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp star anise

1 tsp cardamom

1 tsp instant coffee granules

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

1/8 tsp baking soda

for the coffee butter

2 tsp instant coffee granules

1 tsp water

½ cup butter, softened

½ tbsp icing sugar

The pain d’epices has a long history in France, and is often sold by honey vendors as a bread sweetened entirely with honey. I’ve added some brown sugar for texture and depth and a pinch of baking soda for rise. Traditionally rye flour batter was left to rise for weeks before the bread was baked, but I don’t quite have the patience required! 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a fairly dense loaf as both rye and whole wheat are both heavy flours. I find the combination of the honey sweetened bread toasted with a warm intense butter to be incredibly satisfying! Pairs perfectly with a cup of steaming chai or coffee…or just as good on its own!

METHOD

Making the coffee butter

  1. Whisk together the coffee granules, water and icing sugar.

  2. Fold the mixture in to the butter, using an electric mixer to whip the butter and coffee mixture together.

  3. Transfer the whipped butter in to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

    Making the pain d’epices

  4. Pre-heat oven to 300*F/ 150*C .
     

  5. In a heavy bottomed sauce-pan, warm the milk and honey together but don’t let it come to a boil. Now mix in the packet of yeast and leave it to rest for 15 minutes.
     

  6. In a bowl, whisk together together the eggs, brown sugar, spices and coffee granules.
     

  7. In a second bowl, mix together the two types of flour and baking soda. Once they are well mixed, make a well in the middle of the mixture and pour in the milk, honey & yeast from Step 5. Mix well and then pour in the egg, sugar and spice mixture from Step 6,  mixing all ingredients together till combined.
     

  8. Cover the batter and allow it to sit for two hours to let the spices infuse the milk and flour fully before you bake.
     

  9. Grease two loaf pans or one 20 inch cake pan with butter, pour in the batter and bake on the middle shelf of your oven for 50 minutes. You may need to bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, depending on the heat of your oven. A skewer inserted in to the centre of the loaf/ cake should come out clean and dry when it is baked all the way through.
     

  10. Slice, toast, spread with coffee butter and enjoy! Keeps for two weeks in the fridge.

 

 

TCC BUDAPEST PALMIERS

COURSE: Anytime

CUISINE: French, Hungarian 

SERVINGS: 30 - 36 palmiers

DIETARY: Vegetarian

PREP TIME: 20 min

TOTAL TIME: 45 min

Today’s cookie is a mixture of memories. From visiting India in the summer every year and eating packets of Brittania’s ‘Little Hearts’ (palmiers), to walking through the Jewish quarter of Budapest and discovering a new world of poppy seed filled desserts. Bringing both of these together, we have the Budapest (and Paris via New Delhi) Palmier – glistening with caramelized sugar and filled with a Hungarian inspired poppy seed paste. I'm not usually the biggest fan of buttery, crispy biscuits, but I find the puff pastry works really well with the delicate flavour of poppy seeds. They also look super cute, which is always a bonus!

INGREDIENTS

400 gms puff pastry

100 gms black poppy seeds

½ cup whole milk

1 ½ cup sugar

¼ cup butter at room temperature

1 tsp lemon juice

These palmier are quick and easy to make, if you are using store bought puff pastry dough like I have. Check out one of the many YouTube videos that show you how to fold a palmier. I haven't copied a link in here for reasons to do with copyright - but you can easily find them! Hopefully my written instructions are clear, but just in case!

METHOD

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 400*F/ 200*C & take your puff pastry out of the fridge for at least 20 minutes before you need to work with it.
     

  2. Make the poppy seed paste by first grinding half (50 gms) of the poppy seeds in to a thick paste. Now in a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, butter and 1 cup of the sugar. Add in the ground poppy seeds, as well as the rest of the poppy seeds and lemon juice, and mix together well. Set aside.
     

  3. Cut the puff pastry dough in to two and cover one half while you work with the other. Roll one half of the dough to a 1cm thickness, to make a rectangle about 20 cm x 15 cm. Spread half of your poppy seed mixture on the rectangle, stopping about 2cm away from the edge on all sides.
     

  4. Now you will need to fold your rectangle in order to cut out your palmiers. Fold along the longer side of the rectangle, from the outside in to the middle. Now repeat with the other long edge. Both long edges should meet in the middle and fully cover the poppy seed paste underneath. Now fold in half along the long edge once again, as though you are closing a book.
     

  5. Put the ½ remaining cup of sugar in a bowl. Cut the pastry in to 2-3cm thick pieces along the length of the pastry and lay the pieces, cut side up on a baking sheet. Once all the pieces are cut, carefully lift each piece, coat it in sugar by placing it in the sugar bowl. Place all pieces back on the baking sheet, with gaps as they will expand a little bit in the oven.
     

  6. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 with the other half of the dough and poppy seed paste.
     

  7. Bake for 12 minutes. Flip each palmier and bake for another 5-7 minutes. They should be golden brown on both sides. Cool on a rack.
     

  8. Enjoy your palmiers! These keep for three weeks in the fridge. To reheat them, pop them in a heated (400*F/ 200*C) oven for 2-3 minutes.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are great with a cup of tea, specifically because they hold their shape after a dunk and still have a bit of a crunch to them! A quick note on the poppy seed paste: I have kept it quite basic here as I was after more delicate flavours for this biscuit. You can add crushed walnuts, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), raisins or cacao nibs to the paste if you'd like to experiment with more flavour in the paste!

 

 

TCC MINCE PIE SANDWICHES 

COURSE: Anytime, Dessert

CUISINE: English, Modern 

SERVINGS: 5-6 sandwiches

DIETARY: Vegetarian

PREP TIME: 30 min

TOTAL TIME: 90 min

Mince pies are quintessentially Christmas-time treats. I don’t remember the very first time I had one, but I know that Christmas is not complete without them. Today’s recipe is a take on the ol’ classic. An easy to eat biscuit sandwich, with a fun layer of icing not typically found on pies! This is a small batch recipe that makes a total of five- six sandwiches. Personally, I think it’s perfect for a quick holiday bake!

INGREDIENTS

for the biscuits

4  tsbp salted butter (softened at room temperature)

2 tsbp powdered sugar 

1/4 tsp vanilla extract optional

1/2 cup all-purpose flour 

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cinnamon

 

for the filling

6 tbsp mincemeat

 

for the icing

1 egg white

1 cup icing sugar

1/8 tsp lemon juice

What I like about these biscuits is that they’re fairly thin, so they don’t feel as heavy as a pie. There’s far less fat (butter) content in a biscuit, which gives it a slightly crunchier bite and lighter feel than a traditional mince pie. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mince pie itself is an English classic, the first (savoury) recipe appearing as early as 1390. Today you can pretty much find this ubiquitous symbol of the season in any grocery store, but as always, there’s something really nice about making them fresh at home! Or in this case, making a version of it fresh at home…

METHOD

  1. Make your biscuit dough. Mix together the butter, powdered sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla extract until they’re combined. Now add in the flour and mix it all together till your dough is well-formed. Chill the dough for an hour.
     

  2. While you’re chilling your dough, make your icing. Whisk the egg white for 3–5 minutes, till its foamy. Now add in the sugar and lemon juice and beat it all together on a medium speed till the icing is well incorporated and stiff peaks start to form. Set aside (not in the fridge!).
     

  3. Preheat oven to 300*F/  150*C.
     

  4. Roll out your biscuit dough to a 1- 1.5cm thickness. Using a round cookie cutter (I used a 2.5 inch round cookie cutter) start to cut your biscuits out (you should get between 10 and 12). Lay them on a baking tray and bake for 9-12 minutes until golden brown. Now transfer to a cooling rack and let them come to room temperature.
     

  5. Split the batch of biscuits in half. Spoon 1 -2 teaspoons of icing on each biscuit in one half of the batch, using the spoon or a spatula to spread, creating the top layer of the sandwich.*
     

  6. Spoon one tablespoon of mincemeat on to each biscuit in the other  half of the batch. Now put  the two halves together to create the sandwich!
     

  7. Enjoy! These last well in the fridge for 3 - 4 weeks, but are best eaten at room temperature. ​

    *I sprinkled some coloured sugar on the icing for some extra sparkle, but this is completely optional.

 

 

TCC VEGAN CHEESY ROSEMARY GARLIC GRANOLA

COURSE: Anytime, Breakfast

CUISINE: Modern 

SERVINGS: 18-20 servings

DIETARY: Vegetarian, Vegan

PREP TIME: 20 min

TOTAL TIME: 2 hours 30 minutes

So we’re halfway through this holiday bake. I must confess something – I’m a reluctant baker. Part of the reason for putting this series together, was to push my own creative boundaries and skill. I’m so happy with how each of these recipes ultimately turned out (and glad no one was around for the trials..). So today, I’m venturing in to savoury baking to share a recipe that I rather love. It’s vegan, cheesy, crunchy, salty and spicy all at once. Yum yum yum. 

I love granola, but I don’t actually enjoy a sweet breakfast. Which is odd given my otherwise (very) sweet tooth! Granola and yoghurt for breakfast is one of those quintessential combinations that you just can’t go wrong with. This year, all through my travels I kept little packets of granola in my bag – partly so I didn’t have to buy $20 breakfasts at every airport I went through, but also because it’s a great low-maintenance snack. While it was often loaded with nuts, seeds and other good stuff, the granola was always sweet. Store bought granola can sometimes have as much sugar as a bag of candy, so always read the labels! Anyway, this constant sweetness (granola, not my own) got me thinking about what I could use to make a savoury granola. Something that’s crunchy, is healthy and easy to both make and store. 

INGREDIENTS

for the infused olive oil

3/4 cup olive oil

5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 tsp of fresh rosemary, chopped

 

for the liquid

1 cup tahini

3 tbsp maple syrup

 

for the dry mix

1 cup dry oats

2.5 cup puffed amaranth

1/2 cup nutritional yeast 

1/4 cup flax seeds 

1 cup raw almonds 

1/2 cup sunflower seeds (hulled)

1 cup coconut flakes

1 tsp red chilli flakes

1/2  tsp salt

This granola is very crumbly. You can double the amount of maple syrup if you want it to bind it together more (like a granola bar, or in to clusters). I wanted to minimize the sweetness in mine, so accepted that it will be forever crumbly. Fortunately, I like to eat mine over yoghurt, so it works! 

METHOD

  1. Make your infused olive oil. Place the rosemary, garlic and olive oil on a slow, simmer heat for 25 minutes to let the garlic and rosemary flavor the oil. The garlic should remain translucent/ white and not start to brown at all during this process, so keep the heat really low! Now let this sit for an hour to allow the flavours to really infuse the oil well.
     

  2. Preheat your oven to 300*F/ 150*C while you prepare the granola mix.
     

  3. In a large bowl, create your dry mix. Mix together the oats, puffed amaranth, nutritional yeast, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, chilli flakes, almonds and salt. 
     

  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the tahini, maple syrup and infused olive oil (from Step 1). Pour this mixture over the dry mix and combine both, ensuring that the liquid is spread uniformly through the dry mix. Your granola mix is ready!
     

  5. Press the granola mix on to a baking tray lined with wax paper, to about a half inch thickness. 
     

  6. Bake covered with foil for an hour. Then remove the foil and bake for another 25-25 minutes to get a nice golden-brown crunch on the granola.
     

  7. Cool completely, transfer to an airtight container and enjoy! This will keep well for four weeks in the fridge. 

Feel free to sub in other nuts and seeds. Cashew nuts, pistachios and walnuts tend to release more oil than almonds, which may be something to watch for if you are using significant quantities of any of them. Chia seeds, flax seeds, poppy seeds would all add great texture too! If you are making any changes, look to keep the proportions of seeds: nut: liquids the same as my recipe and you should be fine! 

 

Tomorrow, we’re back to the sweet treats, so make a sizeable tin of this stuff today to see you through the next six days!

 

 

TCC DATE, CINNAMON & MEXICAN CHOCOLATE MA'AMOUL COOKIES

COURSE: Anytime, Dessert

CUISINE: Middle Eastern, Mexican

SERVINGS: 30

DIETARY: Vegetarian

PREP TIME: 45 min

TOTAL TIME: 3 hours

I absolutely loved date ma’amouls as a child. If you grew up anywhere in the Arab world– chances are, at some point you sunk your teeth in to these dense, date-full goodies. The ma’amoul is a semolina based cookie stuffed with either dates, walnuts or pistachios. Personally, I’ve always preferred the date filling - it’s the perfect companion to pretty much any beverage.

In true TCC style, today’s recipe is a take on a classic merged with another culture. The goal was not to make them any sweeter – the date more than takes care of that! Today we go to Mexico and one of their gifts to the world: the combination of chocolate and cinnamon. Just going to let you imagine a sweet, dense date, intensified by dark chocolate and lifted with cinnamon; that, with a crumbly semolina casing boasting hints of fresh orange blossom, and you’ve got all the textures and flavours of these ma’mouls. You’re welcome.

INGREDIENTS

for the cookie dough

325gm semolina flour

100 gm farina

100 gm all-purpose flour

250 gm ghee, melted

100 gm caster sugar

1/4 cup orange blossom water 

 

for the filling

150 gm dates, pitted

2 tbsp cinnamon powder

250 gm Mexican dark chocolate (I used the Ibarra brand, but you can substitute any dark cooking chocolate if Ibarra is challenging to find)

1 tbsp butter, melted

If you are able to find a ma’amoul mold, you can make prettily designed cookies! If not, don’t worry, the mold adds decorative value only! My local Lebanese grocer wasn’t convinced I knew what the mold was for when I went to buy mine. Once we overcame his skepticism, he very kindly shared the most effective way to shape and stuff ma’amouls, which I have used in this recipe. 

 

METHOD

  1. Make your cookie dough. Mix together the semolina flour, farina, all-purpose flour and caster sugar. Now, slowly add in the melted ghee followed by the orange blossom water and knead until a soft, cohesive dough forms. It should not stick to your fingers and should stay together as one ball of dough. Cover and rest for at least 2 hours. This step can be done one day before you want to bake the ma’amouls.*
     

  2. Preheat your oven to 400*F/ 200*C.
     

  3. Prepare your filling. Chop the chocolate in to small chips and mix all of the filling ingredients together well. Once they are well mixed together, divide in to 30 equal portions and roll each portion in to a ball between your palms. When you've got all 30, lay  them all on a plate and cover with a paper towel.
     

  4. Knead the dough once again and roll out to a 1cm thickness. Using a 2.5-3 inch cookie cutter, cut out 30 discs from the dough. This should use up all the dough.
     

  5. Place a ball of filling in the centre of each disc of dough. Press the edges of the dough together to encase the filling and roll in to a neat ball.
     

  6. If you do not have a ma’amoul mold, please do Step 7 instead. Press each dough and filling ball (Step 4) in to the ma’amoul mold, pressing down gently to make sure it’s quite compact. You don’t want to tear the dough, so do be careful not to press down too hard. Once you’ve shaped the dough and filling ball in to the ma’amoul shape, flip the mold over gently on to the palm of your hand, gently allowing the ma’amoul to slip out.
     

  7. If you have a ma’amoul mold, please ignore this step. If you do not have a ma’amoul mold, flatten each dough and filling ball with your thumb to create a thumbprint cookie shape. 
     

  8. Bake for 17-20 minutes. It is important these go in to a hot oven till they are just baked. They will start to dry out if they are over baked. You are not looking for a deep golden brown dough, but rather the colour of shortbread.
     

  9. Cool completely and ice with royal icing (recipe here). Enjoy! These will last for two months in the fridge, but are best eaten at room temperature. 

 

* If you live in a cooler climate, you can leave the dough out overnight. If you live in a warmer climate where butter will melt if left outside, it's best to refrigerate the dough if you are making it 24 hours ahead. Remove it from the refrigerator an hour before using, to allow it to come to room temperature.

 

Traditional ma’amouls use both mastic and malab, which both have strong unique flavors. Though delicious, I’ve omitted them in this recipe to make way for the cinnamon flavour to shine through. A single one of these is enough in one sitting...if you have the best self-control in the world.

 

 

 

TCC ULTIMATE HOLIDAY COOKIE

 

COURSE: Anytime, Dessert

CUISINE: Modern 

SERVINGS: 30

DIETARY: Vegetarian

PREP TIME: 1 hour 45 min

TOTAL TIME: 2 hours 15 min

I love the smell of ‘winter spices’. I’m a sucker for pumpkin spice lattes, eggnog and, but of course, mulled wine. When it comes to baked goods, the holy trifecta of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg usually shows up in gingerbread biscuits. Look, I love gingerbread as much as the next person...just kidding, I love ginger and spices as much as the next person. Gingerbread itself doesn’t do too much for me. I always feel ‘oh but what if it was more...’ Today, I’ve put together a recipe that answers that ‘what if?’.

 

*drumroll* I’ve been saving this one and I’m so excited to finally share the recipe for TCC’s Ultimate Holiday Cookie! This is not for the flavor-shy: they’re packed full of molasses, warm spices, salted caramel and candied oranges. Crinkly on the outside, chewy on the inside with a soft, caramel-y centre. The combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger is just incredible. There’s something really warm and inviting about the smell of all these spices baking together. Mmm.  

 

There are two variations of the same cookie in this recipe. Both equally delicious, just vary in shape! One is a standard round cookie and the other is dressed up as a reindeer. A fun way look as Christmassy as they taste!

 

 

INGREDIENTS

 

For the molasses cookie

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 ½ tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp ginger powder

½ tsp nutmeg

¾ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp salt

¼ cup muscovado sugar

1 egg

½ cup unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup + 1 tsp fancy molasses

Large granule sugar for rolling

If you are dressing the cookies up as reindeer:

Pretzel sticks (2 per cookie)

M&Ms (regular) (3 per cookie)

 

For the candied orange

15 slices navel orange (number of oranges will depend on the size of orange)

1 cup of sugar

½ cup water + more for boiling orange

2 tbsp orange juice

For the salted caramel

2 cups granulated sugar

160 gms (approx. 12 tbsp) butter, softened

1 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp sea salt

 

METHOD

 

  1. Make your salted caramel first. Heat a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook the sugar on a medium flame, whisking constantly as it melts. Once it turns an amber colour, mix in the butter and cook together for 8-10 minutes. Now take the mixture off the heat and fold in the cream and finally the salt. Rest and allow it to come to room temperature.

  2. Once the caramel is at room temperature, drop 30 coin sized blobs on to a wax paper lined plate/ tray. Place in the freezer for a minimum of 90 min to freeze.

  3. Move on to your candied oranges. Prepare a large bowl with ice water and set aside.

  4. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Add the orange slices in once the water comes to a boil. Boil them for 1 minute and then transfer the slices to the ice water.

  5. In a wide bottomed pan, heat the ½ cup water, the sugar and the orange juice, stirring consistently as the sugar starts to dissolve.

  6. Once the sugar is fully dissolved, turn the heat down to a simmer. Place the orange slices in a single layer in the pan. Now simmer for 50 minutes, flipping the slices at 10 minute intervals. Remove the slices from the pan, cut each slice in half (in to wedge shaped quarter slices) and set them aside to cool.

  7. Move on to your cookie dough now. Mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt and all spices).

  8. In a separate bowl, whisk together the muscovado sugar, egg, butter and molasses. Now fold in your dry ingredients and mix all together well to combine and form your dough.

  9. Bring the dough together in to a large ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for twenty minutes.

  10. While you are waiting for your dough to chill, pre-heat your oven to 375*F/ 190*C and prepare your cookie rolling station! Take your frozen caramel discs out of the freezer, and dislodge them from the wax paper, ready to use. Keep your candied oranges on hand as well.

  11. Remove the cookie dough from the fridge. Break the cookie dough in to 30 even balls.

  12. Taking one ball of dough at a time, roll it to a 1 cm thickness. Place a disc of caramel and a quarter candied orange in the centre, and fold all sides of the dough over top to seal the caramel and orange in the dough. Now roll each parcel in to a thick disc.

  13. If you are making normal round cookies: roll each thick disc in the large granule sugar, and place on a baking tray. Place them 2” apart.

  14. If you are making reindeer shaped cookies: Pinch in the centre of each thick disk, to create a figure of eight shape. Now place on a baking tray. Place them 2” apart.

  15. Bake cookies in the centre of the oven for 8-10 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through the baking time. The cookies should be soft to touch and just set around the edges when they’re done baking.

  16. If you are making reindeer shaped cookies: Dislodge the cookies on the tray very carefully (as they will be both hot and quite soft). Stick in two pretzel stick ears and M&M eyes while the cookies are still warm. Use the edge of a teaspoon to give them a little upturned smile.

  17. Cool and enjoy!

 

These cookies also have the incredible ability to remain fresh and soft for several days, which is always welcome! Now the recipe here is more involved than some of the other ones in this series, but the end result is so worth the time! Trust me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here they are, fresh out of the oven! Look at that gooey middle just screaming out to you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are fun cookies to make with kids as well. The molasses cookie is soft and easy to work with when it's warm, so  we created these cute reindeers with ours the second time we made them.

TCC DARK CHOCOLATE, PISTACHIO AND CARDAMOM CHIKKI

 

For those not familiar with the South Asian ‘chikki’, it’s a collection of nuts and/ or seeds in crystallized sugar or jaggery – similar to a nut brittle. Every part of the subcontinent has their own version. In Punjab, peanut and jaggery chikki is especially popular in the winter months, given the warmth it creates in the body.

 

It’s definitely one of those foods that takes my mind to a winter in Delhi, where peanut chikki (along with sesame seed ‘gajak’ and ‘rewri’) was eaten after every meal at this time of year. Today’s recipe is a lighter, chewier take on the classic; since I can never eat just once piece, it made sense to figure out a lighter version, so I didn’t need to feel guilty! Using puffed amaranth rather than sesame as the base here, and honey rather than sugar/ jaggery for sweetness in an effort to make these healthier! 

INGREDIENTS

2 cups amaranth, popped

3 tbsp honey

½ cup pistachios, shelled and chopped

1/4 cup almonds, peeled and slivered

250 gms 70% cocoa chocolate, chopped

½ tsp cardamom, crushed

1 tsp cinnamon powder

 

So what's the TCC connection here? The combination of cardamom and dark chocolate takes me to Turkey, reminding me of Turkish coffee. I used 75% cocoa dark chocolate here, but if you want to cut the sweet even further down, use cacao nibs.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

METHOD

  1. Heat the honey, cinnamon powder and crushed cardamom in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, until it is a runny liquid. Do not let the honey come to a boil, but turn off the gas once it is runny and easy to pour.

  2. In a bowl, mix together the popped amaranth, pistachios, almonds and chocolate. Slowly fold in the runny honey (from Step 1) and mix it all together well, making sure the honey is evenly distributed.

  3. Line an 11 x 7” baking pan with wax paper. Allow the wax paper to stick out over the sides of the pan, to allow you to pull it out later.

  4. Press the mixture in and make sure it is spread evenly across the pan, to about a 1 inch thickness.

  5. Place in the fridge to set for 3 hours.

  6. Remove from the fridge. Using the side of the wax paper, pull the chikki out in one whole piece and upturn it on to a counter.

  7. Using a long, unserrated knife, cut the chikki in to 24 equal squares.

  8. Enjoy! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four weeks.

There are a great grab and go snack – they both hold together well and last for a few weeks in the fridge. Since amaranth doesn’t puff up very much, it stays crunchy – even after it’s been sitting for a few days or a couple of weeks.

 
 

TCC Eggnog and Coconut Bebingka

COURSE: Dessert

CUISINE: Filipino, Seasonal

SERVINGS: 12

DIETARY: Dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian

PREP TIME: ~30 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 1 hours 30 min

Let’s go to the Philippines! Today we’re recreating a Filipino classic, with a particularly Christmassy twist. A rice-flour based cake, 'bebingka' that uses eggnog in the place of of regular milk. I've also added some caramelised banans to this -I love the mixture of textures: we have a dense cake, with cool, smooth whipped cream and warm, gooey bananas! I find the combination of eggnog, coconut and caramelized banana is heavenly! This cake is delicious and actually super easy to make. In Goa, ‘bibingka’ is a very different dessert, that is steamed layers of cake that you painstakingly build over one another. This Filipino version on the other hand, is way simpler (and also entirely different!) Hopefully this will transport you to the sunny beaches of Cebu...

 

INGREDIENTS

For the cake

½ cup vegan butter, softened at room temperature

450 gm rice flour

1 ½ cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

3 cups dairy-free eggnog 

5 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1/3 tsp nutmeg powder

 

For the caramelized bananas

6 Cavendish bananas, sliced & not overripe (they should be firm, with no (or very few) brown spots)

6 tsp brown sugar

2 tbsp butter

 

For the coconut whipped cream

1 can (414ml) coconut cream

1/3-2/3 cup icing sugar

½ tsp vanilla essence

 

 

The great thing about rice flour and the lack of gluten, is that there’s less ‘baking science’ to be aware of – it’s all very ‘mix-and-throw-in-the-oven’. I used the Soy Delicious brand vegan, coconut based eggnog, but you can use a traditional eggnog  (and butter!) if you're not too fussed about dairy!  However, I would keep the coconut whipped cream as is, because that imparts a lot of flavour. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These keep for about a week. Store all the elements separately (as the whipped cream will go off before the cake), and do your bananas just before eating/ serving! 

METHOD

  1. Prepare for your coconut whipped cream: Chill your can of coconut cream overnight before you need to use it.

  2. Make your cakes: Preheat your oven to 350*F/175*C. Mix all the cake ingredients together and divide between 12 equal size muffin molds. Use a regular or large size muffin mod as there is a fair amount of batter!
     

  3. Bake for 50 minutes. Now check if a toothpick inserted through the centre comes out clean – if not, pop it back in and check again every 3 minutes. Once they are done, remove from the oven and allow to rest.
     

  4. Make your whipped cream: Place a steel bowl in the fridge for ten minutes, while you work with your coconut cream. Now, remove the can of cream from the fridge, and open it carefully, without tipping or shaking it, to keep the cream solid. Scoop out the cream and drain the water from the can (you can drink this, use it in oatmeal, smoothies or cocktails!) Set aside.
     

  5. Remove your chilled bowl from the fridge, and whip your cream on a high setting for 30-40 secconds till it is smooth. Add in the vanilla essence and icing sugar and mix it all together well, till it has a smooth consistency. Taste and add more icing sugar as needed! Place in the fridge till you’re ready to assemble your cakes.
     

  6. Make your caramelized bananas: You will need half a banana (I used regular Cavendish bananas as they hold their shape well, but if you can find Filipino bananas – it could only taste better!) Heat up a non-stick frying pan till it’s quite hot, then using tongs, place the slices of banana on the hot pan for 20 seconds to seal. Flip over the slices and seal the other side for another 20 seconds and remove from pan.
     

  7. Now turn down the heat. Melt the butter in the pan, add in the brown sugar and when the two are fully combined, place the banana slices in a single layer. After 3-4 minutes, flip the sides over and allow to cook till golden brown on both sides. I had to do three bananas at a time, given the size of my pan, so I split the butter and sugar between both lots. Remove from pan and let them cool.
     

  8. To assemble, place a cooled cake on a plate, dollop a spoon of whipped cream over top and place the bananas on the side! Et Voila, ready to serve (or eat!).

I only thought of this well after I had taken my photos – you can top the whipped coconut cream with roasted coconut flakes for a super nutty flavor. You could also sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon and/ or nutmeg over top to draw out the eggnog flavor in the cake. 

These keep for about a week. Store all the elements separately (as the whipped cream will go off before the cake), and do your bananas just before eating/ serving! 

 

TCC DARK CHOCOLATE JAFFA SPONGE

 

Goodness well this is late! My excuse is going to be that I was moving countries just after Christmas…I think that’s pretty good! I usually feel like the days between Christmas and New Years are one long blur and now specifically because of jet lag. Anyway!

 

A relatively easy recipe this, but oh so satisfying! I love jaffa cakes and wanted a slightly cake-ier version. I tried this both as cupcakes and as a large sandwich cake. I preferred the cupcake version, they remained more moist AND are always more fun to eat.

 

I used Ottolenghi’s recipe for sponge cake from his Victoria Sponge recipe here. Unsurprisingly, the cake is fantastic! Saw no reason to change it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OTHER INGREDIENTS

 

12 tbsp marmalade of choice

200-300gm dark chocolate

1.5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature.

Sprinkles of choice

 

METHOD

 

  1. Follow Ottolenghi’s recipe for the sponge cake only from his Victoria Sponge cake, baking the batter in 12 muffin cups.

  2. Let the muffins cool, make your chocolate topping while they’re cooling: Double boil the chocolate until it’s fully melted. Mix in the butter till they’re both combined to be one, smooth paste.

  3. Slice your muffins in half horizontally. Spoon 1 tbsp of marmalade on to the bottom half of each muffin and set these aside.

  4. Divide the chocolate between the 12 top muffin halves, spreading the chocolate evenly to create a 2-3 cm layer of chocolate on the top of the muffin half.

  5. Put your muffins back together, placing the top halves over the bottom half, to sandwich the marmalade in between. 

 

TCC SHORTBREAD BAUBLES

And here we are! Day 12. I couldn’t end 1 dyas of holiday baking with anything but traditional holiday sugar cookies! This has been so much fun – I’ve loved hearing of people’s experiences baking some of the recipes here. The best bit is – it doesn’t have to end here! You can bake these all year round!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, this is a super easy recipe. I used the shortbread recipe from my mince pie sandwiches here. You can decorate with any sort of icing! I’ve used royal icing and chocolate here – but you can be as creative as you like!

 

Happy holidays, happy new year, happy cooking and baking! – r.