Sunday, December 5, 2010

Let the Christmas baking begin!

I absolutely adore christmas! I think as a Christian of course it means the most to me as a celebration of Jesus' birth as our saviour, and I get a special thrill out of the fact that there are nativity scenes everywhere and so many more people are acknowledging his birth rather than just us folks who appreciate it all year round!

But I also love the traditions - the tree, the lights, the wrapping, the buying, the television and movies and of course the food!

I usually begin the season with a tree decorating party and ply my friends with gingerbread and cheese platters, champagne and lovely fun food to start the season on the first Saturday of December. Unfortunately this year Super-husband's shifts, another event and both of us getting sick got in the way of our usual plans so we had a quiet evening putting up the tree together.

But nothing can prevent me busting out the gingerbread men! and this year I had an idea to make a hybrid version - part gingerbread, part stained glass cookie (you know, the ones with the melted lollies in the cute little cookie window)

Once again I was thwarted by my fridge and pantry. I just couldn't find the butter I was sure that I had bought!

Incidentally I had the same problem with the bacon from that shopping trip too and eventually found it under the seat in the car :) What a waste of good bacon! But the butter has not yet appeared

I had 85g of butter stuffed in the back of the fridge, but that was it. And the recipe called for 200g.... what to do...

I did have a tub of cream cheese - surely that's kind of similar right?

So my hybrid became a bit more bizarre but the dough tasted amazing so I decided it couldn't be all bad and it certainly wasn't!

100g soft butter (yes, I'm rounding up to make life easier!)
100g soft cream cheese
1 cup caster sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
3 teaspoons ginger

Beat this together until light - then taste - it is divine!!

add 1 egg and beat until combined then add 2 1/4 Cups sifted flour until just combined.

Split dough into 2 lots

Roll out between 2 sheets baking paper until 3mm thick and pop in the fridge to firm up.

When firm cut out with your favourite cookie cutters and then cut smaller shapes inside.

Bake at 180C for 10mins, then get the tray out and sprinkle each little window with crushed boiled lollies - be generous so it will melt to fill in the corners- especially if you have star cutouts!

Pop back in the oven for 5 mins or until cookies and lightly browned and lollies are melted. Cool on the tray so your stained glass will set!

These were so much fun! the cream cheese adds a chewiness that you wouldn't get with normal shortbread - but is reminiscent of gingerbread and a paleness that reminds you of shortbread.

I love christmas baking!

PS. The moon shapes are supposed to be doves :)