Tuesday 18 December 2012

Christmas Baking: Treacle Spice Cookies; Chocolate, Caramel and Macadamia Crunch Fudge; Passion fruit and Raspberry Marshmallows; Rocky Road

I'm feeling Christmassy, both the nostalgic childhood excitement and the slightly nauseating panic that time is running out and I haven't bought a present, ordered the turkey or finished the decorations... So many things give me that Christmassy feeling; the Wizard of Oz, Die Hard (!), Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Wham, late night shopping under twinkly lights and most definitely baking.  I've baked at Christmas for as long as I can remember; the obligatory mince pies, gingerbread cookies, fudge, truffles and this year marshmallows and rocky road are in the mix.  I love sending the kids to school with baked goods to give to their teachers and share with friends as much as I love taking a little something, beautifully wrapped when we visit friends and family.  This year family is coming to us so there will be plenty of frenzied baking...

Treacle Spice Cookies

A spicy and fragrant version of gingerbread adapted slightly from The Biscuiteer's Book of Iced Biscuits, love that book!

200g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp orange zest
50g dark brown sugar
100g salted butter, softened and diced
50g black treacle or molasses

sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a mixing bowl add the sugar and orange zest, mix well

add the butter, gently rub the ingredients together with your fingertips until they resemble fine breadcrumbs

when the butter is evenly mixed in, make a well in the centre and add the treacle bring the mixture together to form a soft dough, combining lightly until it is an even colour lightly form into a ball  you could do all of this in a food processor but sometimes cookie dough under your fingernails is a good thing!

divide dough in half and flatten into discs  roll the dough between sheets of lightly floured baking paper until it is 5mm thick  place the baking paper/dough sandwich onto a baking tray and chill in the fridge for half an hour  repeat with the rest of the dough

preheat oven to 170ºC (150ºC fan forced)

cut out the cookies as close together as you can and transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper  leave 2cm between each cookie as they will spread a little as they bake  you can bring the scraps back together and re-roll but these cookies will be tougher

bake for 12-16 minutes  transfer cookies, on their baking paper, to a cooling rack • cool completely  unleash your creativity and ice away

Royal Icing

450g royal icing mix
75ml water

place icing mix and water in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, starting slowly, whisk until the icing is bright white, thick and smooth, the consistency of toothpaste  this is your “piping icing” used to pipe outlines and add details to your finished cookies

divide the icing into small bowls, colour as required  fit small piping bags with number 1 plain tips and fill with the icing mix  pipe your outlines

now you need to “flood” your cookies  add water, a few drops at a time, to your piping icing, until it is just pourable  fill a piping bag or squeezy bottle with the icing and fill your outlined sections  add any final details with the piping icing

this is a very basic outline for icing cookies; click either of the links below for more detailed explanations, with photographs; prepare to feel inadequate!!

Chocolate, Caramel and Macadamia Crunch Fudge

This recipe is adapted from the fabulous Bakers Royale, it is salty and sweet, crunchy and soft yet very easy to make.  Naomi recommends making caramel sauce for the caramel layer, I did and it was definitely worth it for the deep, slightly bitter flavour, a great contrast to the sweet chocolate below. If dicing with melted sugar and the potential for third degree burns is not your thing, I'm sure a can of Top and Fill will work just fine.

Chocolate layer

335g dark chocolate
395g can sweetened condensed milk
100g pretzels
50g macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

Caramel layer

240g white chocolate, about 1 1/3 cups
170g sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup caramel sauce (recipe below)


50g pretzels, chopped
35g macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

line a 9 inch (23cm) square tin with foil, leave an overhang on each side to easily remove the fudge

place sweetened condensed milk and dark chocolate in saucepan over medium heat and stir until smooth  fold in chopped pretzels and macadamias  pour mixture into foil lined pan and smooth top with an offset spatula  set aside

place sweetened condensed milk, white chocolate and caramel in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until smooth  pour over dark fudge layer and smooth top

sprinkle with remaining chopped pretzels and macadamias and press gently into caramel layer

makes one 9x9 inch pan to be divided as you like!

Caramel Sauce

110g sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons of thick cream
½ teaspoons of salt

combine sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat  stir until sugar has dissolved  use a wet pastry brush to remove any crystals that form on the sides of the pan

once the sugar has dissolved increase heat to high, swirl the pan every now and then to keep the mixture moving  do not stir  the mixture will start to bubble and eventually darken to a medium amber color; this always takes longer than I expect but don’t leave the pan as once it starts to colour it darkens really quickly approximately 5-7 minutes  remove from heat, add the butter and cream  the mixture will bubble wildly, whisk to combine  add salt and stir to combine

caramel sauce recipe ever so slightly adapted from:
fudge recipe adapted from:

Passionfruit Marshmallows

I found this recipe in the Fare Exchange section of the Australian Gourmet Traveller, it is by far the best marshmallow recipe I have tried.  The texture is amazing, soft, spongy and almost mousse like; the trade off, they don't stand up to heat, I was stuck in traffic on a hot Sydney afternoon and arrived with a container of marshmallow soup!

180ml strained passionfruit juice (approximately 10 large passion fruit)
20g powdered gelatin
500g caster sugar
250ml water
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
snow sugar* for dusting

lightly grease a 17.5cm x 25cm shallow cake pan and dust with snow sugar

combine passionfruit juice and gelatin in a bowl, set aside

combine caster sugar and 1 cup (250ml) water in a medium sized saucepan and cook over gentle heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves  increase heat to medium and cook until syrup reaches 125ºC on a sugar thermometer, approximately 10 minutes but you need to keep an eye on it  remove from heat, add passionfruit mixture to syrup and stir until gelatin dissolves, the mixture will bubble alarmingly!

meanwhile, using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and a pinch of salt until frothy  gradually add passionfruit mixture, whisking continuously on medium speed until mixture has doubled in size  slowly decrease speed and mix until mixture is warm

pour into prepared cake pan, spread evenly, then dust top with snow sugar  breathe a huge sigh of relief that you’ve avoided hideous sugar burns

stand at room temperature for around 3 hours or until firm  using a sharp knife, and a ruler if you have my obsessive leanings, cut marshmallow into 2.5cm squares and roll in snow sugar to coat  store in an airtight container between sheets of baking paper at room temperature for up to 2 weeks

* in Australia snow sugar is available from The Essential Ingredient but can be substituted with a 50/50 combination of icing sugar and corn flour or potato starch

makes approximately 70, delightful marshmallows

adapted slightly from Catherine Adams, Rockpool Melbourne

Raspberry Marshmallows

follow the recipe above substituting the 180ml passion fruit juice with 180ml strained and pureed, fresh or frozen raspberries with a squeeze of lemon juice

Rocky Road

500g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
100g raspberry marshmallows, chopped
100g passion fruit marshmallows, chopped
100g rose Turkish delight
85g shelled pistachio nuts

reserve a small handful of the dry ingredients then combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl

for rocky road loaf; pour into a lined loaf tin or lined mini loaf tins  sprinkle with reserved marshmallows, nuts and turkish delight, lightly press into chocolate mix  put in the fridge to set for around 2 hours  slice with a warm knife to serve

for rocky road pops, pour into silicon mini muffin moulds and push wooden paddle pop or gelato sticks into the centre of each mould  decorate with reserved marshmallows, nuts and turkish delight  put in the fridge to set for around 45 minutes  press carefully from the base of each mould to remove


Deb said...

Those Treacle Spice Cookies are little works of art!

simmer and boyle said...

Thanks Deb, they were very cute and so much fun to make :)