Christmas starts here!
19th November 2022

Christmas starts here! From mince pies with a twist to an indulgent chocolate log, why not get ahead for the season with scrummy treats you can cook and keep

GINGERBREAD BISCUITS

MAKES 15

PREP 30 minutes BAKE 10-11 minutes

LASTS 2+ weeks at room temperature

Crabbie’s Green Ginger Wine (70cl, 13.5%) £7.50, Ocado

  • 375g (13oz) plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3tsp ground ginger
  • 120g (4¼oz) chilled unsalted butter, cubed
  • 175g (6oz) soft light brown sugar
  • 100g (3½oz) golden syrup
  • 1 egg

Preheat the oven to 190°C/ fan 170°C/gas 5 and line three baking trays with parchment paper.

Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and butter in a large bowl and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (or pulse the ingredients in a food processor).

Add the sugar to the mix and combine, then add the golden syrup and egg, beating until a smooth dough is formed.

Bring the mixture together with your hands, roll out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a couple of minutes.

Roll out the dough to ½cm thick and using your chosen cutters, make 15 gingerbread people, snowmen or Christmas trees.

Put them onto the lined trays and bake in the oven for 10-11 minutes.

Leave to cool fully on a wire rack and either leave plain or decorate how you like.

Olly Smith’s wine pairing: Ginger genius

Crabbie’s Green Ginger Wine (70cl, 13.5%) £7.50, Ocado

I love the real ginger-root kick of this invigorating sweet treat.

It’s excellent value too.

You could mix it half and half with whisky to create a Whisky Mac over ice – or just enjoy it on its own.

GINGERBREAD MINCE PIES

MAKES 12

PREP 1½ hours

BAKE 15-20 minutes

COOL 1 hour

LASTS 3+ days in the fridge

Cook’s tip 

You can layer the baked, un-iced biscuits between baking parchment in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months

  • 375g (13oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 3tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 275g (9¾oz) chilled unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
  • 125g (4½oz) caster sugar
  • 1 egg, plus 1 beaten egg for brushing
  • For the filling
  • 600g (1lb 5oz) mincemeat
  • 75g (2¾oz) crystallised ginger, finely chopped
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 220°C/ fan 200°C/gas 7 and grease and flour the inside of a 12-hole muffin tray.

Sift the flour, ginger and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub the mixture together with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and egg, mix and bring together with your hands. Knead in the bowl until smooth.

Cook’s tip 

These can be frozen for up to 3 months, unbaked and in their tin, wrapped in clingfilm. Bake from frozen for 20-25 minutes

Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to 3-4mm thick. Use a 9cm round cutter to cut out 12 circles and press each carefully into a muffin tray hole.

Use a 7cm round cutter to cut out 12 circles from the remaining pastry (you may have to collect the scraps of pastry and re-roll). Leave to one side for later.

Place the mincemeat, crystallised ginger, ground ginger and lemon zest in a large bowl and mix. Put a dollop of the mixture into each of the 12 pastry cases. Top each mince pie with the 7cm circles you cut out earlier, pressing the pastry lids onto the pastry bases around the edges to seal. Use any leftover pastry to cut out shapes or stars to decorate.

Brush a little beaten egg onto each mince pie and top with a shape, if using. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool in the tray for 10 minutes, before removing to cool fully.

MINCE PIE ICE CREAM

SERVES 14

Waitrose Cream Rich Sweet Sherry NV (19.5%) £8.99

PREP 10 minutes FREEZE 4 hours

LASTS 3+ months in the freezer

  • 600ml (1pt) double cream
  • 397g tin condensed milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • ½tsp mixed spice
  • 6 mince pies, chopped (try my Gingerbread Mince Pies, above)
  • 200g (7oz) mincemeat

Place the cream, condensed milk, vanilla and spice in a large bowl. Whisk until combined, then whisk until it starts to thicken – it doesn’t need to be very thick, just smooth. Or, you can whip the cream on its own to soft peaks, then fold in the other ingredients.

Spoon a third of the mixture into a 900g loaf tin or freezer-proof container. Swirl through two of the chopped mince pies and a third of the mincemeat. Repeat twice more so all of the ingredients are used up. Freeze until firm, then enjoy.

Olly Smith’s wine pairing: Mince pie magic

Waitrose Cream Rich Sweet Sherry NV (19.5%) £8.99

Cream sherry is such fantastic value it’s baffling. It’s also scrumptious – sweet, fragrant and spicy, like liquid mince pies. Serve in a small, chilled wine glass for a festive moment to savour.

CHOCOLATE ORANGE YULE LOG

SERVES 15+

PREP 30 minutes BAKE 10 minutes COOL 2 hours DECORATE 2-3 hours

LASTS 3+ days in the fridge

  • 5 eggs
  • 100g (3½oz) caster sugar
  • 75g (2¾oz) self-raising flour
  • 45g (1½oz) cocoa powder
  • Zest of 1 orange or 1tsp orange extract

Cook’s tip 

You can freeze the undecorated cake, wrapped in parchment and in an airtight container, for up to 3 months

For the buttercream

  • 125g (4½oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 225g (8oz) icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 25g (1oz) cocoa powder
  • 50ml (2fl oz) double cream
  • ½tsp orange extract

For the ganache

  • 100g (3½oz) dark chocolate
  • 100g (3½oz) milk chocolate
  • 200ml (7fl oz) double cream
  • ½tsp orange extract

For decoration

  • Icing sugar, for dusting
  • Chocolate orange slices (such as Terry’s), crushed
  • Orange zest
  • Orange sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6 and grease and line a Swiss roll tin (approx 32cm x 22cm) with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar for about 5 minutes until the mixture is pale and mousse-like in texture. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and add the orange zest or extract. Carefully fold the ingredients together in the bowl until the mixture is combined.

Transfer the mixture to the Swiss roll tin and smooth over evenly. Bake for 10 minutes.

Disznoko Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2018 (37.5cl, 13%) £19.99, Waitrose

Take another piece of baking parchment paper slightly larger than the cake, and dust with icing sugar.

Carefully flip the cake onto the sugar-covered parchment and remove the original piece of parchment from the base of the cake. While still warm, tightly roll up the sponge and paper together, starting from one short side. Leave the roll to cool fully.

To make the buttercream, in a large bowl beat the butter for a few minutes to loosen. Add the icing sugar and cocoa powder and beat until quite thick. Add the double cream and orange extract, and beat until smooth. Put to one side.

For the ganache, break the dark and milk chocolate into equal pieces and put in a heatproof bowl.

Heat the double cream and orange extract in a small pan until just before boiling point. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave to sit for at least 5 minutes. Stir until smooth, chill for about 30-45 minutes, then whisk until you have a smooth and fluffy ganache.

Unroll the cake, trying to avoid breaking the sponge. Don’t worry too much if it does though, as you can stick it back together. Spread the buttercream evenly onto the unrolled sponge, and re-roll into the classic Swiss roll shape.

Slather the ganache over the outside of the cake with a palette knife. Lightly drag a fork through the ganache to create a bark-like effect, as in the picture below. Dust with icing sugar, and sprinkle with the crushed chocolate orange slices, orange zest and/or sprinkles.

Olly Smith’s wine pairing: Chocolate champion

Disznoko Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2018 (37.5cl, 13%) £19.99, Waitrose

A splash-out indulgence, this Hungarian sweet wine marries peachy apricot scrumptiousness with soaring zesty flair. The flavours and glossy texture work superbly with orange and chocolate flavours.

CHEAT’S CHRISTMAS PUDDING

Tesco Finest 10 Year Old Tawny Port (20%) £12.50

SERVES 12

PREP 30 minutes COOK 2½ hours

LASTS 3+ days at room temperature

  • 150g (5½oz) raisins
  • 150g (5½oz) sultanas
  • 50g (1¾oz) mixed peel
  • 150g (5½oz) self-raising flour
  • 125g (4½oz) chilled unsalted butter, grated, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g (3½oz) fresh breadcrumbs
  • 215g (7½oz) soft light brown sugar
  • 150g (5½oz) mixed nuts
  • 1tsp each ground cinnamon and ginger
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 50ml (2fl oz) full-fat milk
  • 1 egg

In a large bowl, mix the raisins, sultanas, mixed peel, flour, butter, breadcrumbs, sugar, mixed nuts, cinnamon, ginger and mixed spice. Add the milk and egg and beat until well combined.

Grease and line a 1.5ltr pudding basin with parchment paper and pour in the mixture. Cover the basin with a double layer of buttered foil, making a pleat in the middle so the pudding has room to grow.

Cook’s tip 

This pudding can be made up to 2 weeks ahead, and stored, wrapped in parchment in an airtight container

Secure the foil to the basin with string, and then place into a large pan that will fit the bowl.

Pour some boiling water into the pan so that it comes a few centimetres up the sides of the basin, put the pan lid on and let it simmer for 2½ hours, checking the water level every 20-30 minutes. When the water gets lower, top it up slightly so there is always water in the pan.

Carefully remove the steamed pudding from the pan with oven gloves and pour away the hot water. Remove the string and foil and turn the pudding out onto a serving plate.

Olly Smith’s wine pairing: Pudding partner

Tesco Finest 10 Year Old Tawny Port (20%) £12.50

Mimicking almost perfectly the dried-fruit flavours in the Christmas pud, this is best served fridge cold. And for a really indulgent treat you could always tip a bit over ice cream!

CANDY CANES 

Cipriani Bellini (200ml, 5.5%) £8.50, sacla.co.uk

MAKES 15

PREP 1 hour

SET Overnight

LASTS 7+ days at room temperature

  • 1 egg white
  • 350-450g (12oz-1lb) icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 1tsp peppermint extract
  • ½tsp red food colouring

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. 

Using a clean bowl and whisk (otherwise the egg white won’t stiffen), add the egg white to the bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.

Add 350g of icing sugar and the peppermint extract and mix until a dough forms.

Knead with your hands in the bowl until the dough is smooth.

If it’s still sticky, add the remaining icing sugar a little at a time until you reach a smooth dough.

Divide the dough into two and colour one batch red with the food colouring. 

Divide each batch into 15 small balls, so you have 30 balls in total.

On a work surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out one red ball and one uncoloured ball into thin sausage shapes about ½cm thick.

Adapted from Jane’s Patisserie Celebrate! by Jane Dunn, published by Ebury Press, £20, out now

Twist the two colours together and then turn at one end to make the hooked end of a candy cane shape.

Repeat with the remaining balls.

Place onto the lined baking tray and leave to harden and set overnight at room temperature.

Olly Smith’s wine pairing: Festive fizz

Cipriani Bellini (200ml, 5.5%) £8.50, sacla.co.uk

In its mini bottle, this yuletide treat – a blend of prosecco and white peach invented in Harry’s Bar in Venice – is so dinky you could almost hang it from the tree!

Adapted from Jane’s Patisserie Celebrate! by Jane Dunn, published by Ebury Press, £20, out now. Recipes © Jane Dunn, 2022. To order a copy for £18 go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937. Free UK delivery on orders over £20. Promotional price valid until 03/12/22.

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