[veuillez défiler vers le bas pour la version française] Christmas, to quote Love Actually’s Billy Mack, is all around. Bury St. Edmunds’ Christmas Fayre kicked the festive season off for me, and has been swiftly followed by a thoroughly enjoyable Crafternoon (making hand-stitched Christmas cards and origami stars) in aid of Mind, an evening of Christmassy activities to wrap up Brownies for the year, multiple mince pies and (for Laurence, at least) a steaming cup of mulled wine at the Mill Road Winter Fair.
[veuillez défiler vers le bas pour la version française] These gooey triple chocolate cookies tick all the boxes for a sweet, sugary pick-me-up at the end of the working week (or any time of the week, if the truth be told). I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for going on thirteen years, trying out alternative flavours (such as these scrummy mince pie cookies) and double- and triple-chocolate variations along the way. If, like me, you’re a big fan of Sainsbury’s Triple Belgian Chocolate Cookies, these won’t disappoint – and, what’s more, you can bake more at home for less moolah.
[veuillez défiler vers le bas pour la version française] Porridge? Bleurgh; not for me (unless I’m camping, in which case I’ll tolerate it). Combine oats with sugar (lots of it) and syrup, and it’s a different story: I’m the sort of person who’ll eat flapjack mix straight from the saucepan, and who can’t resist a crumbly, oaty biscuit fresh from the oven. It doesn’t take long to whip up a batch of these scrummy little snacks – and, in my house at least, it takes a serious amount of self-restraint not to demolish them in even less time.
[veuillez défiler vers le bas pour la version française] If you ask me, Wales’ culinary offerings are often overlooked. And yet, the humble Welsh cake (which in fact is not a cake, but rather a scone-like snack cooked on a griddle and sprinkled with sugar) and teatime staple bara brith (which is more than just a fruit loaf) are two of my favourite sweet treats. Currants and candied peel are steeped in sweet tea overnight, then stirred into a lightly spiced cake batter, hence the literal translation ‘speckled bread’.
[veuillez défiler vers le bas pour la version française] Christmas, for me, is all about spending time with my nearest and dearest (who these days don’t live so very near to me), playing board games one after the other (Scrabble, Articulate, Monopoly – you name it, we’ll be playing it) and indulging in festive treats (especially sweet festive treats). When Laurence told me that Sainsbury’s were selling mince pie flavoured cookies, I couldn’t resist picking up a bag on my way home from work. (Could you?) I saved the packet, checked the ingredients and spent that weekend making some tweaks to my tried-and-trusted cookie recipe. Featuring a generous helping of currants, sultanas and mixed peel and a dash of cinnamon, they taste like Christmas in a cookie (if I do say so myself).
[veuillez défiler vers le bas pour la version française] Marmalade, in my eyes, is synonymous with a certain bear from deepest, darkest Peru. Whilst Paddington slathered his on slices of bread and squirrelled said sandwiches away under his felt hat, I prefer mine mixed into a cake batter. (Let’s face it, cake might as well be my middle name.) Adding both marmalade and orange zest to the batter ensures you get the slivers of orange rind running through the cake and the zesty punch of a fresh orange; it’s a win-win if you ask me (not that you did). The result? A moreish snack to accompany my mid-morning cuppa on the weekend, and a tasty addition to my packed lunch for the week.
[veuillez défiler vers le bas pour la version française] When I lived in Lyon, I treated myself every now and then to a tarte au chocolat from Le Fournil de l’Artisan, an artisan bakery just round the corner from where I lived. (When I wasn’t treating myself to a chocolate tart, I was treating myself to a chocolate-banana tart, or a raspberry tart or a . . . well, you get the gist.) I consumed many-a tart during my time in Lyon, and the more tarts I ate, the more I began to think they couldn’t be all that difficult to make. Since returning to the UK, I’ve made it a couple of times and it’s been a roaring success. (I love the fact that it’s a no-faff bake. I’m all about the minimal effort, maximum reward bakes.) If you’re looking for a tasty festive treat and, like me, you’re not keen on Christmas pudding, then this’ll be just the ticket.