I love baking for Christmas, and luckily I have a husband with a sweet tooth like mine who loves to eat my baking. Win, win. I bake, and someone else can eat most of it! This year we will be hosting some of Alex's family for morning tea on Christmas day, so I thought I should make some special festive treats. These two recipes are favourite Christmas treats in our house.
An easier version of the traditional Florentine biscuit. The recipe originally came from one of my mum's Australian Women's Weekly cookbooks, but I have adapted it to be vegan. The key ingredient is soy condensed milk, which I buy online from the Cruelty Free Shop in Auckland. I have not tried to make my own soy condensed milk, but I understand it is not too tricky to make, so that might be a project for next year.
400g vegan dark chocolate (I use Whitakkers Dark Ghana or Bittersweet Block)
1 1/2 cups sultanas
4 cups crushed cornflakes (crush lightly in a bag, then measure out)
1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
120g red glace cherries, chopped
1 tin Soymilke soy condensed milk
1. Prepare two 28cm x 18cm slice tins by lining with tinfoil and greasing lightly. Preheat oven to 190degC.
2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave jug, stirring until smooth. Pour half the chocolate into each tin and spread out evenly. Refrigerate until set.
3. Combine all other ingredients in a large bowl. When chocolate is set, spread mixure evenly over chocolate.
4. Bake for 15-20 mins until just starting to brown. Leave in tin to cool. When cool, cut into squares with serrated knife.
Makes about 48 squares. Freezes well.
I find that sometimes the chocolate bubbles slightly from being baked. The original recipe called for cooking chocolate, which I guess can cope with being baked. After researching similar recipes online, next year I will try to bake the topping first and then "ice" the bottom of the slice with the melted chocolate after baking, to preserve the look of the chocolate. Despite the bubbles, it is still as rich and chewy and delicious as ever!
Vegan Christmas Mince Pies
For this recipe you definitely need a food processor for both the fruit mince and the pastry.
I used Alison Holst's easy fruit mince recipe, online here. The only change I made was to substitute chopped dried apricots for the mixed dried fruit as I am not a huge fan of mixed peel. The recipe made enough fruit mince for just over 3 dozen pies (made in normal muffin tins).
For the pastry I used this recipe. A single batch made enough for 12 mince pies. I cut the bases out using an 8cm diameter round cookie cutter and the tops using a 7cm star cookie cutter. I sprayed the muffin tins, put in the pastry bases, put in a dollop of fruit mince and popped a star on top. I brushed the tops with a little soy milk and baked them at 180degC for 15-17 minutes. Cool in the tins, then take out and cool on wire racks. Sprinkle with icing sugar just before serving.