Candied Nuts

 

Spiced Candied Nuts

Spiced Candied Nuts

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about candied nuts on blogs recently and have really wanted to try them out! I saw them at the German Christmas markets but they were very expensive, being sold by weight, so I stayed well clear…

Tammela Platts shared in her blog ‘Wherever I am, you are there also’ a recipe for ‘Candied Almonds’ which I just had to try out as the recipe is very simple and I like the idea of separating them into little food gift bags…

However my plans of Christmas baking this weekend have been scuppered by a disaster at home involving a leaking toilet and waking up to pools of water in the living room on Saturday morning. After a stressful 24 hours of having no water in the house, I finally got back on track and settled down to baking some tasty treats to celebrate the holiday season.

Spiced Candied Nuts

Spiced Candied Nuts

The only problem I had was that the caramel stuck a little to the grease proof paper that I lined the baking tray with, so next time I will use baking paper (I’ve run out after lots of baking recently!).

I would highly recommend this recipe! The balance of sweet, salty and spice are perfect and the nuts are so yummy! It takes a lot of willpower to stop eating them and portion them up for gifts. I also used a bag of mixed nuts that I had in the cupboard which contained hazelnuts, brazils, peanuts, almonds and pecans. My favourites are the hazelnuts so I’m slowly picking them all out for myself…

Thanks Tammela! I think I will making many more batches of these beauties in the coming weeks… 🙂

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Christmas shortbread: Pistachio with Cardamom and Stem Ginger

 

Pistachio and Stem Ginger Shortbread

Pistachio and Stem Ginger Shortbread

My family and I don’t really celebrate Christmas to the extent that most families do in the UK. We get together with extended family for a couple of days over Christmas Day and Boxing Day to eat lots of lovely food, usually having a fairly traditional roast Christmas dinner. Unsurprisingly the best part of Christmas for me is the giving and receiving of food. For the past few years I’ve been making little Christmas food gifts for friends and family rather than just relying on shop bought festive treats. Partly because it helps to reduce the cost of Christmas shopping, but also because I think putting a little effort into making a gift for someone is always appreciated! And since I’m not blessed with any artist crafty ability or patience to learn a new skill, then I fall back onto the art of baking…

This year I’ve started off with some tried and tested shortbread recipes. This weekend I made some Stem Ginger Shortbread for a friend of mine who is actually celebrating her birthday, so technically this was ‘Birthday Shortbread’. She’s also expecting her second baby, so I figured that ginger is great for any pregnant woman with it’s anti nausea properties (beside being really delicious!).

The second lot of shortbread was flavoured with cardamom and toasted pistachio nuts, a classic combination! These were taken to some friends of mine who I have just started working with as a trustee of the Bumba Foundation. This charity raises money to build schools in Uganda for children who are otherwise unable to get an education. It’s an honour to be part of this work and I look forward to getting stuck into the fundraising events in 2014! Please check out the website for more information about the Bumba Foundation. Today was my first trustees meeting, so I took a these shortbread cookies to make a good first impression.

 

Pistachio and Stem Ginger Shortbread

Pistachio and Stem Ginger Shortbread

The shortbread recipe I used was based on this BBC recipe that I have successfully used in the past but after researching a few other recipes I decided to substitute some of the wheat flour with a couple tablespoons of cornflour to ensure extra crispness, I think it worked! Using this basic recipe as the base, I added the additional flavourings by adding some of the stem ginger syrup to the dough and pressing chopped up stem ginger to the tops of the cookies. For the second batch the ground seeds of about 8 cardamom pods were kneaded into the dough and crushed pistachios pressed into the top.

 

Christmas Gift Box

Christmas Gift Box

I wrapped the shortbread in some gift bags and sealed to keep them fresher for longer then put them in these little Wilton Christmas gift boxes that I found when Christmas shopping. Very cute don’t you think?!

More posts on my Christmas food goodies to come…

Previous baking adventures: cakes, tarts, cookies and muffins etc.

Cookie monster cupcakes

Cookie monster cupcakes

Compared to some experienced bloggers, I am still fairly new to the food blogging world. However my love of baking and taking photos of the results started long ago! I usually take pictures of my cakes and bakes with my camera phone then post pictures on Facebook (hence the poor quality of my photos!). I was looking through all these photos and found things I had long forgotten I’d baked!

I’ve decided to collate the ones I could find pictures of, some have turned out well and some not so well but it shows a range of what I like to bake.

I went through a phase of making cupcakes for a while, so they feature heavily and my attempts at macarons have been a little questionable. Some bakers like to use the same recipes over and over again, perfecting it to their tastes. I’m not one of these bakers! I like to go by cooking books and flick through the lovely pictures then I get my recipes on line where people have commented on how to improve recipes.

These bakes have been for a variety of events spanning around 5 years! Usually for birthdays, as gifts, for charity fundraisers or afternoon tea parties. Each picture brings back memories of the occasion it was baked for and I can even remember what they tasted like!

Maybe one day I will find the time to collate all these recipes into my own personal cook book so that I can go back to them when needed, as often I can’t find the recipes again!

Fig and frangipane tart

Fig and frangipane tarts: using up left over figs

Almond Slices

Almond Slices: dessert for family meal

Raspberry macarons

Raspberry macarons: These won me first prize in a charity’bake off’!

Ice cream cone cupcakes

Ice cream cone cupcakes: office party

Chocolate macarons with passionfruit cream

Chocolate macarons with passion fruit cream: made for a friend’s Christmas gift

Elderflower meringue santa hats

Elderflower meringue Santa hats: part of a ‘secret Santa’ gift for a colleague

Ghostly meringue cupcakes

Ghostly meringue cupcakes: Halloween themed office party

Black Forest Cupcakes

Black Forest Cupcakes: gift when visiting a friend

Baileys chocoloate cupcakes and scones

Baileys chocoloate cupcakes and scones: part of an afternoon tea party I hosted

Eton Mess

Eton Mess: these gorgeous espresso cups were a gift for my 30th Birthday

Cardamom and hazelnut cookies

Cardamom and hazelnut cookies: afternoon tea party

Macarons with chocolate ganache and mini cupcakes with fresh raspberry

Macarons with chocolate ganache and mini cupcakes with fresh raspberry: another afternoon tea party!

Ugandan coffee and ground nut cupcakes

Ugandan coffee and ground nut cupcakes: raising funds for a friend’s charity building schools in Uganda

Cookie monster cupcakes: My nephew’s 1st Birthday party
Mini cupcakes: Coconut, Hazlenut, Blueberry

Mini cupcakes: Coconut, Hazelnut, Blueberry: experimenting for as part of a Wedding afternoon tea buffet

Melting moments: shortbread with butter cream and jam filling

Melting moments: shortbread with butter cream and jam filling: trying out two toned piping on cookies for a staff meeting

Shortbread cookies filled with jam and butter cream

Shortbread cookies filled with jam and butter cream: treats for the family

Chocolate Roulade

Chocolate Roulade: Dessert for a family meal

Nutella cupcakes with raspberry

Nutella cupcakes with raspberry: treats for colleagues

Hazelnut cupcakes with nutella frosting

Hazelnut cupcakes with nutella frosting: treats for family

Carrot and Walnut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and Lemon cupcake

Carrot and Walnut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and Lemon cupcake: Charity bake sale

Spinach and Cheese muffins

Spinach and Cheese muffins: Friend’s afternoon tea party

American style buttermilk and mixed berries muffins

American style buttermilk and mixed berries muffins: experimenting with buttermilk

Chewy chocolate chip cookies

Chewy chocolate chip cookies: Trying to make ‘Millies style’ cookies