Christmas and Chocolate: A match made in Heaven

Christmas Brownies

This week I have been really busy trying to get everything done before Christmas. You know that time of year where you are trying to do all your day to day things, but also trying to buy Christmas presents and organize yourself? I mean I love buying presents for others, but it does take up a lot of time because I take so much pride in when I give to people. Plus, I’m also trying to work out all of my Christmas baking, which is an entirely different undertaking! My sister reminded me that I don’t need to bake for people, especially when it comes to making gingerbread houses! But the truth is I just love doing it, especially because it is such a personal gift! So I guess it isn’t really a question that I’m going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen gearing up to Christmas. And why wouldn’t you want to me? I mean I know it is really hot, being summer here, and sometimes the oven is a bit much, but there’s just something so awesome about Christmas baking. As you know I love the flavours, but its more the variety of baking there is to do. Everyone loves a good Christmas recipe, and there is the volume of recipes online to match! So I figured it was about time I started testing some out for potential contenders for my Christmas presents.

Christmas Brownies

I have had this recipe sitting around for a while and it caught my eye as one to give a try this week because it combines two of my great loves: Christmas and chocolate. Who doesn’t love a good brownie, especially one where when you bite into it you get delicious Christmas flavours! I figured that there was no time like the present to try this one out and see how it went. I had all the ingredients on hand, along with some Lindt chocolate, so I figured I could put it to good use and upgrade it beyond its chocolate bar origins. It was funny because it’s been so hot in Brisbane lately that I didn’t even need to melt my chocolate, it was already melted for me thanks to sitting out all day!

Christmas Brownies

I have to admit, when I looked at the actually directions for this recipe, I was a little skeptical. Part of the appeal of brownies for me is that they are so easy to make. You melt the chocolate and butter, add all the other ingredients, bake and then you are done! They have to be one of the easiest things to bake, and quickest to wash up (one bowl, one pan). But this recipe called for a lot more steps than what I would usually put into a brownie, as well as a lot more ingredients. I mean when I start having to whip things for a certain amount of time on a weeknight, sometimes I just cannot be bothered. I guess that is why I am always after quick and simple recipes, because sometimes you just want to be able to whip something up nice and easily, and have a finished product in under an hour. Is it too much to ask? But I told myself, even though I was feeling stressed and tired, that I needed to bite the bullet and try out this recipe. The promise of how delicious it would be at the end kept me going, and in the end it ended up making me feel a lot less stressed anyway!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Don’t be disheartened by the slightly more complicated method in making these brownies, or how long they take to cook. Even though it seems a little more painful than a regular brownie, these were anything but regular brownies! The finished product I was a little skeptical of because they didn’t turn out like brownies I would normally make, but the finished product was absolutely delicious! These brownies are seriously good, so all that time in the kitchen is well worth it for the finished product! If you are after gooey, dense brownies with a perfect crunchy top and a little flavour twist, these are your brownies! So I urge you to not get frightened by the unusually large process behind these brownies, because they pack an amazing Christmas flavour and are well worth the extra effort.

Christmas Brownies

Christmas Brownies

Adapted From The Moon Blush Baker
Preparation Time 25 minutes
Cooking Time 45-55 minutes
Serves 16 brownies

Ingredients

·         175 grams of Unsalted Butter, cubed

·         125 grams of good quality Dark Chocolate, chopped up

·         275 grams of Caster Sugar

·         2 eggs

·         2 egg yolks

·         1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

·         100 grams of Plain Flour

·         1 teaspoon of Ground Ginger

·         1 teaspoon of Cinnamon

·         ¼ teaspoon of Ground Nutmeg

·         ½ teaspoon of All Spice

·         ¼ teaspoon Ground Cloves

·         ¼ teaspoon of Black Pepper

·         Pinch of Salt

·         ½ cup of Walnuts, roughly chopped

Method

1.       Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.

2.       In a medium heat proof bowl melt chocolate and butter together over a pot of simmering water. Continue to stir until combined and then remove from the heat. Set aside for 10 minutes.

3.       While chocolate is cooling, whisk eggs, yolks, vanilla extract and caster sugar with an electronic whisk until very light and fluffy. This took about 5 minutes for me, and once you’re finished set aside.

4.       In a small bowl, mix together the flour, spices, salt and pepper until combined, and set aside.

5.       Roughly fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until completely combined. Ensure you scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure the chocolate is fully mixed.

6.       Add the flour mixture to the rest of the batter and mix until completely combined. Add the walnuts and fold through to mix evenly.

7.       Pour the mixture into the tray and place in oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes. I left mine in for 53 minutes and they were still really gooey but had a delicious crunchy top.

8.       Allow to cool in the tin and then transfer to the fridge to cool overnight before cutting.

Christmas Brownies

Now I look at it, it really isn’t that bad at all. I think it’s just because brownies are normally a one bowl, simple recipe, and this is a little more complicated. But you will be rewarded for your efforts with these ones! I was surprised by how hard the top ended up being, and the brownies themselves deflated a lot while they cooled. But this ended up making the brownies really dense, which was amazing! I was surprised by how dense they ended up being giving how much the eggs and sugar were whipped. But that’s what I love about trying new recipes, they always surprise you.

Christmas Brownies

These brownies had a delicious hint of Christmas in every bite, as were perfectly spiced with those gingerbread sort of flavours that I love! I also think the walnuts really added something to the brownies, because it meant that they had a little extra crunch. They would make for the perfect gift for those special people in your life, or something to bring along to your Christmas party when you’re asked to bring a plate. They are sure to bring the festive cheer, and everyone loves chocolate!

Christmas Brownies

I took these brownies to work and they were a hit! Which is surprising, given how many of the girls in our office are on diets at the moment. Luckily I saved a couple at home for later because they were gone so quickly! I might need to share the love a little though, because I need to be able to fit into my bikini come Christmas time if this weather keeps up!

Christmas Brownies

Until next time, happy baking!

Ella xx

Advertisements

Tis the Season for Gingerbread

Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

It’s that time of year again when a few amazing things start to happen. The days get longer here in Australia, more parties are on, and everyone starts getting that excited feeling of another year winding up. As terrified as I am that it is getting so close to Christmas, I am also really excited, because with Christmas comes my favourite activity: Christmas baking!

Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

There are so many delicious foods to bake at Christmas time, and even though it is far too hot in Australia to divulge in most of them, there are still some that I really enjoy. I love any opportunity to bake Christmas related treats, and I’ve already started planning what I will be giving to my family, friends and work colleagues this year. I figure it is the perfect opportunity to put my baking skills to good use to give to those I love, and it can make it a lot more personal giving someone something that you’ve actually put time and effort into. As you probably already know, I don’t really enjoy cooking for myself, so I love the opportunity to bake for others, and Christmas presents the perfect time.

Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

My absolute favourite baking around Christmas would have to be gingerbread. I love the flavour of gingerbread so much, and every year I get excited to make some. But I’ve come to realise that Gingerbread does not necessarily need to be a Christmas only thing. Here I was thinking I could only crack it out in December, but there was a whole world of Gingerbread related cooking just waiting for me to discover! I guess I should have known better, because those flavours of cinnamon, ginger and cloves are just too good to be constricted to one occasion!

Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

So when I was thinking about what to cook this week, and I stumbled across a recipe that combined some of my favourite type of cookies and gingerbread, I was sold. I absolutely love snicker doodle cookies, they are so soft and sugary, and you can really add any flavour to them to kick them up a notch from the traditional type. I’ve tried ones with chai spice before, and so when I had a look at the recipe for these cookies, I thought they sounded like something I definitely had to try. Especially because it meant whipping up some gingerbread related baking earlier than December.

Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

The cookies themselves were really simple to make, and didn’t take long at all! I ended up making them on a weeknight to bring into work, because everyone has been having a bit of a tough week and I know baking always makes everyone feel better! As soon as the cookies started baking, my house got the most amazing aroma throughout it, and it reminded me so much of Christmas. Honestly, what more could you want from cookies? It doesn’t feel like the end of the year until I start smelling gingerbread baking, and if it felt even better to have it come early!

Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Preparation Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 8-10 minutes
Serves 24 cookies

Ingredients

·         2 cups of plain flour

·         3 teaspoons of baking powder

·         1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

·         ½ teaspoon of ground cloves

·         ½ teaspoon of ground ginger

·         ½ teaspoon of salt

·         ¾ cup of butter at room temperature

·         ½ cup of caster sugar

·         ½ cup of brown sugar, firmly packed

·         1 egg

·         ¼ cup of golden syrup (or molasses)

·         Additional sugar for dusting

Method

1.      Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (375 Fahrenheit)

2.      In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Set this aside

3.      In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together the two sugars and butter until light and fluffy. This should take about one minute on a medium speed

4.      Add in the egg and golden syrup, and mix on a low speed until completely combined. Use a spatula to push down the sides of the mixture if needed,

5.      Slowly mix in the flour mixture in batches, ensuring each time that the flour is fully incorporated before adding more. Beat until all flour is completely combined on a low speed

6.      Line two baking trays with baking paper. Put enough sugar into a small bowl to dust the cookies with.

7.      Roll the dough using your hands into small balls. I wet my hands and slightly dried them to make it a little easier to roll. Once you have a ball, roll this in the sugar mixture to coat, and place on the baking tray. Continue to do this until all your mixture has run out.

8.      Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until they start to slightly crack on the top, and they are slightly golden in colour. Remove from oven and cool for a minute or two. Then transfer to a wire wrack to cool completely. They will flatten a bit and crinkle further while they cool.

Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

These cookies really didn’t last long. They were absolutely delicious, even though I might be a bit biased with my love of gingerbread. Everyone at work who tried them really enjoyed them and there were definitely multiple eaten! Because they were spiced I think it cut through the sweetness and made the cookies a lot easier to eat. They are dangerously good, and I’m only glad that most of them got demolished quickly so that I didn’t end up eating the entire batch! I would have if I had left them at home, because they were so delicious!

Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

I think all in all, these were a great cookie to make and perfect all year round. They would go great with a nice cup of tea, or coffee, or just on their own. Plus they were quite quick and simple to make, and didn’t take long to cook at all! Much simpler than some other cookies that I have attempted to make, which is what you need when you decide you feel like doing late night baking as I did this week.

Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

So go on, get into the Christmas spirit early and start enjoying that gingerbread! It’s never too early to enjoy the delicious flavours of gingerbread, and I’m so glad I’ve found recipes that allow me to enjoy it all year around!

Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

Until next time, happy baking.

Ella xx

The Gingerbread House Mission

I know that I’m reminiscing through pins a little too much about Christmas baking, but its just so much fun! And I really would love to share with you my mission to make Gingerbread houses. It really was a bit of trial and error, and so if I could make it a little easier for some of you, or inspire you to endeavour on this challenge, then I would be happy!

I decided that I wanted to make Gingerbread houses as presents for the people I work most closely with in my team at work (Obviously I would have made them for everyone if I had the time/patience/was a God of baking, but I had/am none of these on my side). I felt like this would be a nice gift, as it takes a lot of effort, which I think those special people around you deserve, and are really appreciate of the gift! They look really nice when you finish them, and the person you give them to can take them home and eat them when they feel like it, as they keep well. And just look at the finished product:

Small Gingerbread Houses

It took a lot of planning to make the 4 houses. But I decided from the start I would make smaller ones just to make it a little easier on me. I looked up ideas of lollies, layouts, designs and methods to make them the best way I could. I also didn’t practice, which meant that I needed to make it work first time! I really had all the odds against me. The last gingerbread house I made was more like a fort with my partner. We didn’t think through the layout completely so as a result it ended up being a sieged castle that had been overrun by gummy snakes (always remember that artistic license is important when making gingerbread houses). But it was a bit of fun, and I think that’s how you need to approach it! If you get to serious, I swear the gingerbread knows and buckles, or doesn’t bake properly. So just relax, and enjoy the process. And spread it out over a few sessions, like I decided to do, as it really helps you keep your sanity.

I’ll split this post into 3 parts: Making the dough, cooking the gingerbread, and assembly. This should give you a step-by-step, easy way to make 4 gingerbread houses. Feel free to adjust as you see fit. As I said, there is no real right or wrong way to decorate your gingerbread house, so you might want to change the way you do it to what I did. But I’d love to see the result if anyone recreates it!

The Gingerbread Dough

I used my favourite gingerbread recipe, which is super simple to make and hasn’t let me down in the past few years! I got a lot of comments about how delicious it was when I gave out cookies along with the gingerbread houses, and so I’d highly recommend it for simplicity and tastiness!

The only problem was that when I rolled out my batch, I soon realised that I didn’t have quite enough dough (I was only one roof piece short!). So I made another whole batch of the gingerbread, which I used to make gingerbread cookies for everyone else. This could be a good way to do it, as you will have excess for this, or in case of emergencies/baking disasters. However, for the sake of the blog, I’ve recreated the recipe I used for 1.5 batches of the original, which should still give you plenty left over to have some fun with!

IMG_4902

Basic Gingerbread Dough

Recipe from Taste.com

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 ½ cups of plain flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of ground ginger
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar – I used dark brown sugar to make the gingerbread taste a little more syrupy
  • 280g butter at room temperature, chopped
  • ¾ cup of golden syrup
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flours, ginger, cinnamon, sugar and butter with a beater (If you don’t have a beater, I’ve used a food processor before). Do this until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Whisk together the eggs and the golden syrup in a jug until combined.
  3. While the beater is still running (the benefits of using a food processor), add the egg mixture to the dry mixture until it just comes together. You might need to stop and push the sides down with a spatula in order to ensure everything gets mixed correctly.
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and kneed until smooth (this will take a couple of minutes.
  5. Cut the dough into 3 sections and cover in plastic wrap. Pop this in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

I chilled my first batch for a few days and my second one just overnight. I have to say it was better only chilling it overnight; the dough was much easier to work with and wetter, which is what you need for rolling it out.

The Baking

When you are ready to bake your Gingerbread, you will firstly need to find a good template. Luckily, I have already had a look through Google and found one I was happy with. It worked really well in the end, as I found that a lot of them were either far too small (like those cute ones that sit on your coffee cup!) or too big. Eventually I found one I was happy with, and it was a perfect size to fit on the plates that I had bought to put the houses on. Find the template here. I used the template for the roof, the sides and the front and back. You can do the chimney if you want, but I thought it might be too fiddly.

Once you are happy with the template, cut it out and get ready for cutting out the dough.

Method: Cutting out the dough

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees Celsius.
  2. Get your dough out of the fridge and let it sit for a bit (if you are in Summer it should take no time at all for the dough to heat up). I just found it a lot easier to manipulate once it wasn’t so cold!
  3. Take each portion and place it between 2 pieces of baking paper. Use a rolling pin or other suitably round object to roll the dough out into 5mm thick pieces. Alternatively you can flour up your bench and do it without baking paper. If you do this remember to flour the rolling pin. My dough got a little dry so I used a little water between rolls to soften it up (this is what I needed to do with my first batch to get it to come together a little better).
  4. Using your trusty template, which hopefully by now you have cut out, use a knife to cut through the dough in the shapes that you need for the houses. I needed 4 of each piece of the template, so make sure you don’t forget any pieces!
  5. Carefully place these pieces on a baking tray lined with baking paper. I used a wide spatula to transfer the gingerbread across to prevent it from warping too much.
  6. For the little hole that you see in the template, sort of like a window on both sides, I did something that ends up looking awesome. You can get finely crushed hard-boiled lollies and crush them up finely to make a neat little stained glass window. Place the crushed candy in the window hole, and then bake as normal. The candy will melt and fill the space out. When the gingerbread cools it will harden again, making a great stained glass looking window! I used red candy to keep it Christmassy, but you could use any colour, or even mix them up if you want! I did this on the side of the gingerbread without the door, but you could do it on both if you wanted. I only did this on one of the houses, as I was worried it might affect the structural integrity of the house, but it seemed to hold fine!
  7. Bake the Gingerbread for 10-15 minutes. I only needed 12, as at 12 minutes the dough was a darker golden colour, and verging on firm, but was still soft when I took it out of the oven. This meant that it as it cooled it hardened up perfectly for the house. I prefer my gingerbread soft, so this was good for how I liked it. You could leave it in a little longer if you want it harder, but just make sure you keep watching it to stop it from burning!
  8. Place on a wire wrack until cool.

I actually cooled my gingerbread components, counted them a few times to ensure I had enough, and then placed them in a container. I did this so that I could leave the assembly until the following day, so that I was in a more creative mindset. If you are ready to keep going, feel free to, but just make sure that the gingerbread is 100% cool. Otherwise leave the assembly until you are mentally prepared.

Once you are in a creative mindset, gathered your lollies and have psyched yourself up with a good pep talk, you are ready to decorate!

The Assembly

This step is the most fun out of the whole process. But I think rather than calling it the assembly step, it should be called the “glue the house together and pray it doesn’t fall apart” step. Up until now, it’s pretty simple. This is the step that separates the mice from men, the bakers from the imitators. Well, I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself, but you get the idea.

I will list the ingredients I used for my gingerbread houses, but it’s really up to you what you want to put on it. I looked up a few sites and was able to find some really good inspiration. So feel free to use mine as a guide, but take a look in your supermarket and come up with your own ideas. That’s the best part!

Firstly, you will need to make a glue to stick the houses together. And I don’t mean clag glue, I mean royal icing glue, which I can guarantee will be far more delicious than the real thing.

Royal Icing Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites – lightly beaten
  • 3 cups of pure icing sugar

Method

  1. Beat the egg whites using an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  2. Gradually add icing sugar, and beat until the mixture goes thick

To assemble the gingerbread houses, I first got some Christmas themed cardboard plates to use as the base. I then set out to glue the pieces of my gingerbread together into a house, which is the hardest part of the whole process.

I firstly attempted to glue the houses together by putting the icing into a piping bag and using this to draw really neat lines between the joints of the house. However, the issue was that I couldn’t get enough icing to really solidify the joints, and so the houses ended up not staying together, which is clearly not ideal.

I then had a look at this recipe from Raspberri Cupcakes and she had the great idea of throwing neatness to the wind in favor of getting enough icing on the pieces of gingerbread to get them to stay stuck. It was quick, easy and when you are decorating the houses anyway, I think it’s more important to make sure that the houses stay together than making this part of them look pretty.

Grab your bowl of icing and dunk the pieces of gingerbread into the icing, ensuring that you get a good amount on the sides. Start with the four wall pieces, sticking them all together and using cans from your pantry to keep them upright if needed. I found I didn’t actually need to do this as the icing was nice and strong, but it will just depend on the consistency of your icing.

I found I needed to leave the houses for about 20 minutes to ensure that they were nice and firm. So set these aside and play the waiting game. If you come back to them and the icing isn’t completely dry, leave them for longer. It’s really important that you don’t move them until they are really dry.

Next, set out gluing them to the plate. I used the piping bag to do this so that I got a really neat line. I used the roof piece template and drew this onto my plate to give me a guide of where to pipe (you’ll find this will pretty much give you the right size). I then stuck the gingerbread house down; using my piping bag on the inside to make sure any joints that weren’t covered in icing yet would stick. Leave this for 30 minutes at least. They should look something like this:

IMG_4935

Next is the hardest part, as you will have gravity working against you: the roof. Make sure you have some suitably sized props for the roof pieces ready to go. Then pipe some icing onto the top of the gingerbread house walls (make sure you use a lot). Dip the sides of the roof that will come together at the top in the icing and stick down. I held these on for a few minutes just to help it start to dry. I then put the props in place to make sure the roof stayed put. After it was all secured, I went around with the piping bag and added the icing into any holes that were left. Mine looked like this:

gingerbread houses

Leave this for about 20-30 minutes to ensure that the whole thing is really dry. I know this seems like a long process but it’s worth it to make sure that you don’t wind up with a broken gingerbread house at the end, crying in despair. I only had one mishap where the roof started sliding, which I thought was a pretty good success rate.

The fun part: The candy

The next step is the best part – you get to decorate your pretty little houses! Use artistic license here, I mean who am I to tell you how to decorate your house? As you can see in the photos, I opted to do 4 different houses so that each recipient was getting something different.

IMG_4939

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of sour straps – These are great to use as they are a. delicious b. take up a lot of space on the house, so are a really good gap filler. I used these on the sides of my houses and on the roof of one.
  • 1 – 2 packets of lolly raspberries – There seemed to be some shortage of raspberries when I was shopping (it seemed like everyone else had the same idea) but these lollies are great on the roof of your gingerbread house, or as additional festive decorations on the walls.
  • 1 – 2 to 5 packets of freckles. These look really nice on the roof of the gingerbread houses, and I didn’t have enough. Buy as many packets as you can, as these are a classic decoration and you will want to eat a couple as you go/there will be broken ones in the bags
  • 1 packet of chocolate covered liquorish bullets – I really don’t like liquorish, so I used raspberry flavoured ones to make it more delicious. These look great stacked up on the side to make the gingerbread house look like a log cabin, or along the joins of the house.
  • 1 packet of musk sticks – and obvious staple, these look great to hide any messy gluing work
  • 1 – 2 packets of jubes – You need a few packets of these if you want to go super festive, as you can pick out the red and green ones from the packet and just use these. For the rest of the colours, I suggest eating them.
  • 1 packet of Christmas themed lollies, or lollies of some other description – I found great Christmas lollies in my supermarket which had all kind of cute shapes. These I stuck all over the house walls.
  • 1 packet of candy canes – I broke these off to use in the doors, and used them in the joints.

Optional extras: These are things I was going to do but didn’t

  • Making a snowman out of marshmallows for the front of the house
  • Using boiled lollies to make a path up to the house
  • Using a chocolate as a chimney on the house

I think ideally I would have liked more freckles and jubes to use on the roofs, but you have to make do with what you have! I found that my houses had really low walls in the end as well, so I didn’t find the need to put windows in. Instead I covered the sides with chocolate logs to make them look like cabins, or sour straps because they were just about the right size when I cut them up.

IMG_4948

A great idea that I used from the Raspberri Cupcake post was to cut the top off the candy canes and use these around the doorways. I then used the bottom straight bit of the candy canes on the roof beams. I think this made it look especially festive. Chuck on a couple of festive themed lollies and hey presto! You have your gingerbread houses!

IMG_4937IMG_4938

IMG_4947

I then wrapped these up in cellophane, tied a ribbon around them, and added gift tags. I think that these made really great Christmas gifts, and I don’t think it was too difficult when you split the process up over a few days. Just be patient, and you should be fine! And even if they are a little rough around the edges, Gingerbread houses are just impressive when they stay together, so they are sure to be a hit! And here’s a shot of me with the finished product:

IMG_1864

Until next time, happy baking!

Ella

Two Delicious Christmas Rocky Roads

For my first post I thought it might be fitting to share some of my Christmas baking with you!

I wanted to make something simple and delicious that I could gift to my work colleagues. Seems like a simple task, surely? Well I don’t know about anyone else, but I spent hours trawling through recipes trying to pick something to make. There is almost too much choice, making it difficult to narrow down! I can’t believe how many Christmas recipes there are out there, literally everything you could think of.

I found two recipes for rocky road, and I mean, who doesn’t love rocky road? One was for white chocolate rocky road that was gluten free, and I was pretty keen to try it as one of my work colleagues is coeliac. I also settled on a peppermint chocolate rocky road which looked divine. Rocky road is one of those things that I’ve never tried before, but can’t believe that I haven’t. Its so simple when you get down to it: buy the ingredients, crush them up, pour melted chocolate over them and cool. Simple! It was the perfect recipe to give out, as it looks impressive, is delicious, but super easy to make.

I’ll detail the process below, first for the white chocolate rocky road, and second for the peppermint. As for a favourite, I think the peppermint was the real winner out of the two, but it really depends on your preference.

White Chocolate Christmas Rocky Road

I bought the ingredients for both rocky roads at the same time, which was good as they did call for similar ingredients. But I did have a big issue with this one when I went to the store. I’m not sure how readily available gluten free items were for the writer of the recipe, but I know now that in my supermarket all lollies contain gluten. This was a real eye opener for me, because I just wouldn’t think of gluten being in something other than bread and wheat. Turns out I really don’t know anything!

So after a bit of deliberation I decided that I would scratch making this gluten free. There just weren’t any gluten free alternatives for marshmallows, jelly candy, or jubes in my supermarket, plus if I substituted it would have become far more expensive. Instead I just made a gluten full rocky road version of this recipe. I guess if you have the options you could make this gluten free, but I just didn’t have the choices.

This recipe is delicious, as it has toasted pistachios and macadamias in it, which give it a nice crunch without putting biscuits in. The white chocolate also made it look a lot more Christmassy when paired with red lollies. It was really simple to make and I would recommend this recipe to anyone. The recipe below is how I did it, but obviously you can check out the original post if you would like the full recipe.

White Chocolate Christmas Rocky Road

Recipe Adapted from G-Free Foodie

Ingredients

400 grams of White Chocolate melts– I just used the supermarket brand, as I believed that the ingredients would make up for using cheap chocolate. If you want it more decadent, use a high quality brand

56 grams of unshelled pistachios, lightly toasted (I put these in the oven at 150 degrees for about 7 minutes, or until the kitchen got a nutty aroma

56 grams of macadamia nuts

170 grams of  multi colored marshmallows – I used the Pascal brand marshmallow packet that comes with 4 flavours: strawberry, vanilla, peach and banana. Could have done without the banana, but that’s just personal preference!

85 grams of red frogs, chopped into chunks. For some reason the only red lollies I could find were red frogs, as there appeared to be a Brisbane shortage of rasberries! So I just chopped up the red frogs really finely. I decided to use these instead of multi coloured lollies as the recipe called for in order to make the rocky road more Christmassy.

85 grams of dried cranberries

Directions

  1. Line a baking tin with baking paper and set aside. I did this quite roughly in a pretty deep, square tin. It depends on how thin you want the rocky road to be, the smaller the tin in length and width, the thicker it will be
  2. Chop up the macadamias, marshmallows and red frogs and pop into a bowl. Ensure that the pieces of marshmallow are small enough so you don’t end up with them taking over the rocky road, which is what seemed to happen a little bit with mine! Then add the pistachios once they’ve cooled a little and the cranberries. Mix this all together gently. This is what mine looked like in a bowl:

IMG_4904

  1. To melt the chocolate, the recipe called for melting it in the microwave, but I personally prefer to do it on the stove. I filled a small saucepan with a little bit of water and placed a heat safe bowl over the top so there were no gaps. I then poured the chocolate melts into the bowl and over a medium heat stirred the chocolate until it melted. Sometimes, the water will boil over and you’ll need to lift the bowl. Be careful of the steam when you do this, its normally best to lift it tilting away from you. Here’s a pic:

IMG_4906

  1. Pour the melted chocolate into the bowl with all the lollies and nuts. Mix this well to ensure everything is coated.
  2. Pour this mixture into the prepared pan, and even it out with a spatula.
  3. Refrigerate this for a couple of hours, or overnight if you have the time.
  4. When you are ready to cut it, take it out of the fridge and get a nice big knife and a chopping board. I was able to cut it quite easily as it was a very hot day, but if you don’t have this on your side, simply heat the knife a little under hot water to make it really easy to cut through the rocky road. I cut mine into about 16 pieces, but yield will really depend on the thickness of your rocky road. Here’s my finished product:

 photo 1

And there you have it! The recipe says it should keep for at least two weeks, but will soften at room temperature. If you live in a hot place like I do, its best to keep it in the fridge, and that way I got more life out of it (until my boyfriend realised I still had some left).

As I said, a very simple recipe, but it looks great when completed! And who doesn’t like rocky road? You wouldn’t even need to keep this treat for Christmas only. You could add any lollies you wanted for an all year round treat.

Peppermint Chocolate Rocky Road

This recipe is a lot more Christmassy, but was definitely the crowd favourite out of the two! The peppermint twist to this recipe really ensures that it is fresh and delicious in every bite! I would say this one was a little more complicated than the white chocolate rocky road, but it was still quite simple. I felt like I did more with this one, like I might have been a little bit more involved with the cooking process. So if you like something slightly more hands on I’d pick this one!

This recipe is not gluten free by any means, but I suppose the great thing about rocky road is that it is really adaptable to what you want to put in it. If you have gluten free ingredients you can most certainly make it gluten free.

When completed, this rocky road looks like Santa’s elves whipped it up themselves. It’s definitely got a lot of festive character.

Peppermint Chocolate Rocky Road

Adapted from Style Sweet CA

Ingredients

150 grams of softened unsalted butter

115 grams of milk chocolate melts – Again, I used the homebrand chocolate melts, as I believed that it wasn’t worth getting good quality chocolate when there are so many things being added to it. If you are a chocolate purist, feel free to get some really good quality chocolate!

230 grams of dark chocolate melts – The recipe did call for good quality chocolate, but again I didn’t listen. Feel free to substitute if you’d like to turn this rocky road up a fancy notch!

¼ cup of rice malt syrup – The recipe called for corn syrup, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. Corn syrup really isn’t very good for you, and given that this recipe already adds butter to the chocolate, I felt it could use slightly less bad stuff (I know, it’s a little contradictory). Lets just say using an alternative makes you feel slightly better knowing that you are giving your friends something a little bit better for them. Rice malt syrup is great as it is sweet but doesn’t have as much of a distinctive flavour as honey does.

½ a packet of milk arrowroot biscuits, crushed, but not too finely crushed. Keep it in chunks to avoid getting crumbs through the mixture

2 cups of lollies – The recipe called for 2 cups of mini marshmallows, but if I’m honest with you I forgot to buy enough for both rocky roads. So I combined the rest of the marshmallows and the rest of the red frogs together and finely chopped them. If you are smart enough to remember to buy enough marshmallows, no need for this! But the red frogs did add a little something to the rocky road

6-8 Candy Canes

½ cup of Christmas m and m’s, or other red chocolate candies – the Christmas m and m’s were perfect for this rocky road

1 teaspoon of peppermint extract

Method

  1. Make sure your biscuits are crushed into largish pieces, and that your lollies are all ready to go
  2. Crush your candy canes to within an inch of their lives. I put them in a freezer bag and bashed them on the bench. This was very satisfying, and I’d highly recommend this method. The candy canes need to be crushed fine so make sure you give them a good bashing.
  3. Place the lollies, biscuits and coloured chocolate in a bowl with the candy canes. Leave the marshmallows out. Set aside. This is what my delicious mix looked like before being covered in glorious, buttery chocolate goodness:

IMG_4909

  1. Line a pan with baking paper and set aside. As with the white chocolate rocky road, the smaller the pan, the thicker the rocky road. I only had a long, rectangular pan, so mine ended up being thinner. This worked will with this recipe though.
  2. Place a bowl over a saucepan that has a little bit of water in it on a medium to low heat. Ensure the bowl seals up any gaps. Place the chocolate in the bowl and melt it, stirring frequently. Then add in the butter and rice malt syrup and stir until smooth. Take off the heat. Here’s my glorious chocolate butter mix before melting:

IMG_4914

  1. Pour the chocolate mixture of the lollies and chocolate that you set aside earlier. Fold the mixture gently until everything is covered well.
  2. Add the peppermint extract and stir through.
  3. Add the marshmallows to avoid them melting. Stir through.
  4. Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth with a spatula. Here’s what mine looked like:

IMG_4915

  1. Place in the fridge and cool for at least four hours, or overnight if possible.
  2. Place the rocky road on a cutting board and get a nice big knife. If it’s a hot day you’ll be able to chop it easily, if not run the knife under hot water to make this a little easier. I chopped mine into about 16 pieces.
  3. You can dust it with icing sugar to make it look really nice. I honestly forgot to do this…whoops! But anyway, see my finished product below:

photo 2

And voila, There you have it! Two rocky roads all ready to go. I put these into nice little Christmas goodie bags along with some gingerbread cookies, and presented them to my work colleagues. They all really loved them, and I think it worked as a great gift. I managed to give them 2 squares of each rocky road, which was a pretty good size!

I’d highly recommend giving these recipes a go. They were super easy, quick and fun to make. And the finished product looks quite nice. It’s sure to put a smile on someone’s face!

Happy baking!

– The Serial Pinner xx