Posted on Leave a comment

Christmas Cookie Bars

These cookie bars are a Christmas staple in our house and have been for years. The cinnamon makes the house smell all festive and you know it’s not long until the big day!

My mum and I would make them but instead of cutting the tray bake in to bars we would use biscuits cutters to cut out Christmas shapes to make them even more festive and so we could give them as gifts (it was totally not so we could sit on the sofa watching Christmas TV and scoffing a bowl of all the offcuts of cookie left behind by cutting out shapes)

This year I’ve made them with my toddler and we’ve adapted the recipe to be vegan and it’s also soya and nut free. Her opinion on them was that they were “yum yum”.

So here’s what you need:

Ingredients

  • 270g vegan baking spread
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 160g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp egg replacer and 4tbsp water ( you could make 2 flax ‘eggs’ if you prefer
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 380g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 110g rolled oats
  • 220g raisins

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150C.
  2. Put the butter and both sugars in a bowl and cream together.
  3. Add the egg replacer mix, mixing well.
  4. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  5. Add the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and oats to a separate bowl, and mix well.
  6. Then combine the dry mix with the butter mixture and beat until well mixed.
  7. Stir in the raisins until evenly distributed.
  8. Put the mix in a traybake tin, if it’s too thick and sticky thin with a little milk first (we use oat) .
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown and firm. It will depend on the size of tin you used as to how thick your bake is, so check regularly to make sure it’s not burning.
  10. Once they are cooled you can take them out the tin as they are easier to cut in to bars when cool. (Or you can cut in to Christmas shapes to give them as gifts and then so you don’t waste anything eat the leftover bits like we did!)

Notes: You can do steps 2-6 altogether if using a food mixer as the ‘all in one method’ just don’t use a mixer for the raisins as we want to keep them whole so you get large juicy raisins in the bars.

Posted on Leave a comment

Merry Mulled Wine

mulled wine

Mulled Wine. It’s the ultimate Christmas drink. It’s such a Christmas tradition, just like cards, trees and gift-giving. It’s warm, it’s cosy and flavoured with cloves, cinnamon, and orange it smells like Christmas Day.

Ingredients

  • A 750ml bottle of red wine -(virtually any red wine will do. Don’t waste money; you just need something that has fruit and alcohol)
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 75g caster sugar (to taste)
  • a splash of brandy (optional)

Method

  1. Carefully peel the zest very thinly from the lemons and one of the oranges using a vegetable peeler. Squeeze out the juice and reserve.
  2. Stick the cloves into the other orange.
  3. Pour the wine, a pint of cold water, and the citrus peel and juices into a large saucepan. Add the clove-studded orange and the cinnamon sticks. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering, cover the pan with the lid, and continue to simmer for about an hour. Stir in the sugar gradually during cooking, until the mulled wine is sweetened to your liking (you may not need all of the sugar).
  4. Strain the mulled wine and serve hot.
mulled wine

No Alcohol Version

For the non-drinkers, children and drivers, this is a great alternative to the boozy version:

Ingredients

  • 750 ml Cranberry juice
  • 250 ml Orange juice
  • 1 large orange + the zest of another orange
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 2 Star anise
  • 10 Cloves
  • 5 pods Cardamom

Method

  1. In a large saucepan, boil the orange juice until it becomes syrupy.
  2. Stick the cloves in to the orange and put it in the pan, along with the other mulling spices and the cranberry juice and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and let them rest for 2 hours for spices to infuse.
  3. Strain the spice mix before serving and ladle them into the glasses.
Posted on Leave a comment

Vegan Mince Pies

Vegan Mincepies

Nothing says it’s Christmas time like mince pies. I’ll admit even with a reputation amongst my friends and family as a domestic goddess, with a small teething baby clinging to me last Christmas, it being our first vegan Christmas and having just moved house and only having half a kitchen and most of the cookware still in boxes, we did resort to just buying ready made pastry and a jar of mincemeat.

However, this year we wanted to have a go at making them, especially as my daughter is 2 now and loves to bake. Plus making them yourself means you know exactly what’s in them and there’s no unnecessary preservatives or excess sugar, it also gives you the option to add slightly more or less of particular ingredients to suit your tastes. We’ve made this recipe alcohol free as my daughter usually eats more of the baking she helps with than makes it to the oven, but you could add a few tablespoons of brandy if you’d like a grown up boozy treat!

The combination of apples, cranberries, raisins, orange and spices ticks all the festive boxes! This recipe is not only vegan but also soya, peanut and tree nut free, due to my children’s allergies to those ingredients. I’ve broken it down in to pastry and filling so if you only want to or only have time for one half you can use shop bought pastry (like Jusroll) or a jar of mincemeat from the supermarket (lots of them are accidently vegan)

The Mincemeat filling

  • 1 large Bramley apple
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries (45g)
  • ¼ cup currants (45g)
  • ⅓ cup raisins (55g)
  • ⅛ cup mixed peel (20g)
  • The zest & juice of one orange
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ⅛ cup brown sugar (25g)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 5 ground cloves
  1. Peel the Bramley apple and dice finely.
  2. Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Making sure the apple is now soft and absorbed the spices and flavours.
  3. Remove for the heat as it’s ready to go in the pastry cases.

The Pastry

  • 85g vegan butter
  • 175g plain flour
  • 3 tbsp water
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Break apart butter into small pieces in large bowl.
  2. Add flour and mix together with fingers (or in a food processor) until a breadcrumb texture is formed. If you make your hands cold while doing this, just run wrists and hands under the cold tap beforehand, it will be easier to work the pastry. (Pastry and warm don’t go together.)
  3. Add salt and water then press together to form a dough. Be careful not over handle the dough.
  4. Form into a flat ball, cover with cling film and put in the fridge for 30 mins to rest.

The Pies

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C or 180°C fan.
  2. Lightly flour surface and roll out pastry.
  3. Using two different sized cutters (one medium one slightly smaller) cut out 12 smaller circles for the base and 12 larger circles or shapes (We used a star shaped cutter) for the lids.
  4. Place bases in your tray and spoon approx 1 tsp of the mincemeat filling into each pie. Make sure not to overfill them or they’ll spill over the sides.
  5. Cover with lids, pressing edges together with water.
  6. If using a circular cutter, pierce each lid with a fork to let air in. Brush with your plant milk of your choice, we used oat milk. You can also sprinkle a little brown or caster sugar on top of them for some festive sparkle and added crunch.
  7. Cook in the oven for 20-25 mins for the perfect golden brown colour.
  8. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy!