Merry Christmas! I hope you have had a wonderful day and your belly is about to pop!
This year, my Christmas has been a little different. It’s the 25th and we haven’t had our traditional dinner yet, nor have we opened all of our presents – instead, I’ve spent it baking and caught up on The Sopranos – I guess that’s a regular day for me!
I’ve been rather busy over the past couple of weeks. I’ve landed myself a new job, visited friends and had a number of early Christmas celebrations including the last week in work, a carol concert and far too many mulled wines than I’d like to remember.
I did plan to write a Christmas baking post, but time has rushed by far too quickly for my liking and so I didn’t get the chance – but I thought it’s better late than never…
To start, I made some Baileys & Chocolate Reindeer Cupcakes.
I followed the recipe by Mari Williams and think they are a great alternative to the normal Christmas cupcakes you may see.
The dark chocolate and creamy icing compliment the saltiness of the pretzel ears incredibly well and were definite crowd pleasers – although having to eat one of these guys seemed rather cruel in a strange way!
Next up I made Chocolate & Ginger Hearts. I didn’t follow any one particular recipe and found it really easy and quick to make.
I started by melting butter, golden syrup and dark chocolate all together, before adding the mixture into a bowl full of crushed ginger biscuits. Once the mixture was suitably covered in the melted chocolate, I then poured it onto a baking tray and popped it in the fridge for a few hours to cool. Once it was just about set (about 1 hour), I cut the chocolate slab into hearts using biscuit cutters (this step gets a little messy!) and dusted with some edible golden glitter. You can use different variations of chocolate with additional ingredients – such as chocolate and chilli for Valentines Day, chocolate and sea salt etc, but I think this is a nice alternative to a normal box of chocolates from the supermarket!
I was inspired by my best friend Adriana to make sărățele (salty, cheese sticks – a Romanian nibble) for my Dad’s Christmas hamper.
I followed Adriana’s recipe and used Greek yoghurt, feta cheese and dough-like yeast – but you can follow an alternative recipe by Bettinna if you don’t have all of the below ingredients to hand. I also felt like twisting the individual dough pieces rather than just cutting them into rectangles – and I think they look quite good!
I was a little nervous to make these as I had only just heard about them a few days prior to me setting up a bakery in my kitchen – but I think they turned out rather well! I’m going to serve a handful of these with some prosciutto wrapped around them as nibbles for tomorrow’s dinner.
As well as all my baking, I’ve been busy shopping – yay! I managed to catch some great offers and found some lovely gifts for my friends and family this year. I absolutely love buying gifts and there’s nothing that gives me a more of a warm, happy feeling when I see people smiling from what I’ve given them.
So much so yesterday when I arrived back in Manchester, the city was quieter than usual and I noticed how many homeless people were around town. I was getting annoyed with how cold it was and couldn’t wait to get back to my apartment, but then I thought about all the people sitting on the freezing cold and dirty pavements, with nothing to look forward to this Christmas. With this in mind I decided to make a little difference to somebody’s day.
On my way back from the city centre I went into a coffee shop and bought a cup of tea and a chocolate bar. I gave the tea and chocolate treat to a man who was sitting outside the supermarket begging for money. I gave him the bag with the gifts in and he was rather surprised at first, but smiled and thanked me. As I walked away, I felt really proud and happy that I managed to give something to somebody who needed it. I have no idea if he even likes tea or chocolate – but hopefully the thought gave him a little extra hope this Christmas.
I will definitely do more things like this in the future and I’ve actually started to plan a little campaign which incorporates my love of baking, giving gifts and helping those less fortunate – so stay tuned! If you are in your favourite coffee shop and feel like doing something spontaneous and kind why not add an extra cup of coffee or tea onto your bill? Trust me, you’ll brighten up somebody else’s day and will help them to stay warm this winter.
And it made me smile too!
I’ve been up and down from my home town to Manchester quite a lot over the past week – running different errands, catching up with old friends and helping my Dad with his last minute Christmas shopping. Not to mention Christmas Eve festivities over at Adriana & Alex’s including a few lethal Godfather cocktails…what can I say? He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse!
Either way, despite a little ‘headache’ this morning I’ve still been bobbing around like a busy Christmas bee!
I should probably get some sleep as I’m cooking the dinner tomorrow for my family’s Christmas Day – so cue silly arguments, bad jokes and my Mum cleaning excessively. Oh the joys… but at least I’ve had some practice!
I’ll let you know how I get on shortly, but for now all that’s left to say is… I hope you had a very merry Christmas and enjoyed it with all of your loved ones wherever you are in the world.
Max sends his Christmas wishes too – he’s turned into a reindeer!