Edible Christmas Gifts & Stress Tips

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Hi everyone and I hope you are all set now on the home stretch before the festive holidays. We have had a such a fantastic last week here at Ballyknocken House & Cookery School .  Our 12 days of Christmas recipes are still going out every day in the lead up to the main event and are packed full of great recipes gadget ideas and top tips such as edible gift ideas, turkey roasting tips and how to spice up those sprouts.

The phone has been buzzing with all our lovely customers picking up Ballyknocken Christmas Vouchers thank you so much for choosing Ballyknocken for the special gift for your loved ones. You can  still pick up a last minute voucher here or call the office on 0404 44627 and Sharon will take care of you.

This week I would like to share this idea for edible gifts that really shows thought and they are loved by all. They can be put in a lovely jar and look really fab under the tree.

Amaretti Biscuits

Amaretti gift Jar

Tip : Edible gifts show you’ve taken the time and effort to make them for the lucky recipient! It can be a great way of spending time with the kids at this busy time of year. We know they’re popular because our edible gift class always sells out!

Amaretti Biscuits

Makes 40

350g ground almonds

350g caster sugar

4 egg whites

1 ½ tbsp amaretto

Butter, for greasing

Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas 4.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently mix in the sugar, amaretto and almonds.Place some baking parchment on a baking tray and butter lightly. Using a teaspoon place small dollops (about 2cm) onto the sheet. Bake for 12–15 minutes until a pale golden brown. Leave to set on the baking tray, as they are quite soft at this stage. The will harden as they cool. Tip: Add 2 tbsp of dried cranberries to the mixture.

Here are my six stress busters for Christmas that I would like to share with you all

  1. Take a walk on the wild side – get fresh air and down time, five mins meditation can go a long way
  2. It’s not a competition – it’s about family time
  3. Plan – write lists, call it old-school but I am a great believer in writing lists
  4. Delegate – usually people want to help so share the load
  5. Prepare what you can ahead of time
  6. Less is more – alternate your alcoholic drinks so you’re not over-doing it.

Finally my  Christmas dinner gadget of the week I love is this gorgeous flour sifter from Brown Thomas   Flour Sifter

Have a wonderful time with family and friends this Christmas and I will be back in the New Year with more recipes, tips and news

Catherine

Edible (and drinkable) Christmas Treats

Homemade Ballyknocken Almond Liquer

Homemade Ballyknocken Almond Liquer

cooking pic_1

They always say ‘it’s the thought that counts’ when gifting and there’s nothing more thoughtful than a homemade gift. Here are two of my favourite Italian influenced Edible and Drinkable gifts… and surprise, surprise one of them contains chocolate!

Buon natale

Catherine

Ballyknocken house and cookery school

ps. Checkout http://www.ballyknocken.com for our cookery school gift vouchers and signed copies of my book.

Almond Liqueur (similar to Amaretto)

Makes 1 ½ litres

400g sugar

375ml boiling water

500ml vodka

500ml brandy

2 tbsp almond extract

Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a large pot.  Boil uncovered for 2 minutes, remove from the heat, and let cool for 30 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and pour into bottles.  Store at room temperature for at least 1 week before taking a tipple.

Brownies

Makes 16 brownies

180g dark chocolate

150g butter

125g caster sugar

2 eggs

50g plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

30g plain chocolate, chopped into small chunks

To decorate

Icing sugar glaze (icing sugar and a drop of water) or melted dark or white chocolate

And further decorate with any of the following: chocolate flakes; hundreds & thousands; Christmas cake decorations; oven dried orange slice segments dipped in chocolate; chopped nuts; chopped pistachios; toasted flaked almonds; pecans dipped in melted chocolate; mixed peel; edible flowers; strawberries dipped in chocolate… just a few ideas

Preheat the oven to 180°/Gas 4. Line a brownie tray with baking parchment.

Break the 180g of dark chocolate into squares and place in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water. Melt the butter in a saucepan and pout the hot butter over the chocolate, stirring until all of the chocolate has melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Beat the eggs. Stir the beaten eggs into the melted chocolate mixture, mixing well. In a separate mixing bowl sieve the flour and baking powder. Slowly fold in the chocolate mixture. Stir in the 30g of chocolate chunks. Transfer the mixture into the baking tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes until it is just firm to the touch in the centre. Remove from the oven, cool slightly, turn out and cool on a wire rack. Slice into 16 squares.

Decorate each square with melted chocolate or an icing sugar glaze and then make then even prettier with some of the decorations as suggested above.