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…

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East meets west: stem ginger and pistachio chocolate brownies

 

Stem Ginger and Chocolate Brownie with Stem Ginger Ice cream

Stem Ginger and Chocolate Brownie with Stem Ginger Ice cream

Ginger is synonymous with Chinese food and is added at the end of cooking to add freshness, or at the beginning of a slow cooked casserole to add subtle spicy undertones to the dish.

I love the taste of sweetened ginger and have been thinking about how to incorporate stem ginger into a dessert that is traditionally western in style. Obviously there is the classic British dessert, steamed ginger pudding with lashings of vanilla custard and good old gingerbread men! But I wanted something richer and, ideally, involving chocolate!

I found this recipe: http://ginandcrumpets.com/brownies-with-stem-ginger/

As I was planning on serving this as the dessert for dinner with friends, I wanted it to look a more pleasing to the eye. So thought about colour and texture. As well as loving ginger, I also love any kind of nuts, so pistachio nuts would be the perfect addition!

Then to cut through the richness of the dark chocolate, I made a pistachio ice cream based on this recipe: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/741636/nochurn-ice-cream

The brownie has a nice ginger taste, but next time I think I’ll add even more to bring out the flavour. And maybe a ginger ice cream to go with it!