The Ultimate Christmas Cookie Box


 
THE ultimate holiday cookie box - with something for everyone. Coconut ice, Honey Caramel Corn, sugar cookie marshmallow sandwiches, marshmallow and sugar cookie rocky road, piped roll out sugar cookies, and a DIY S'mores kit. What more could you wish for - this would be the perfect gift this holiday season.
THE ultimate holiday cookie box - with something for everyone. Coconut ice, Honey Caramel Corn, sugar cookie marshmallow sandwiches, marshmallow and sugar cookie rocky road, piped roll out sugar cookies, and a DIY S'mores kit. What more could you wish for - this would be the perfect gift this holiday season.
THE ultimate holiday cookie box - with something for everyone. Coconut ice, Honey Caramel Corn, sugar cookie marshmallow sandwiches, marshmallow and sugar cookie rocky road, piped roll out sugar cookies, and a DIY S'mores kit. What more could you wish for - this would be the perfect gift this holiday season.
THE ultimate holiday cookie box - with something for everyone. Coconut ice, Honey Caramel Corn, sugar cookie marshmallow sandwiches, marshmallow and sugar cookie rocky road, piped roll out sugar cookies, and a DIY S'mores kit. What more could you wish for - this would be the perfect gift this holiday season.
THE ultimate holiday cookie box - with something for everyone. Coconut ice, Honey Caramel Corn, sugar cookie marshmallow sandwiches, marshmallow and sugar cookie rocky road, piped roll out sugar cookies, and a DIY S'mores kit. What more could you wish for - this would be the perfect gift this holiday season.
THE ultimate holiday cookie box - with something for everyone. Coconut ice, Honey Caramel Corn, sugar cookie marshmallow sandwiches, marshmallow and sugar cookie rocky road, piped roll out sugar cookies, and a DIY S'mores kit. What more could you wish for - this would be the perfect gift this holiday season.
THE ultimate holiday cookie box - with something for everyone. Coconut ice, Honey Caramel Corn, sugar cookie marshmallow sandwiches, marshmallow and sugar cookie rocky road, piped roll out sugar cookies, and a DIY S'mores kit. What more could you wish for - this would be the perfect gift this holiday season.
THE ultimate holiday cookie box - with something for everyone. Coconut ice, Honey Caramel Corn, sugar cookie marshmallow sandwiches, marshmallow and sugar cookie rocky road, piped roll out sugar cookies, and a DIY S'mores kit. What more could you wish for - this would be the perfect gift this holiday season.
THE ultimate holiday cookie box - with something for everyone. Coconut ice, Honey Caramel Corn, sugar cookie marshmallow sandwiches, marshmallow and sugar cookie rocky road, piped roll out sugar cookies, and a DIY S'mores kit. What more could you wish for - this would be the perfect gift this holiday season.
THE ultimate holiday cookie box - with something for everyone. Coconut ice, Honey Caramel Corn, sugar cookie marshmallow sandwiches, marshmallow and sugar cookie rocky road, piped roll out sugar cookies, and a DIY S'mores kit. What more could you wish for - this would be the perfect gift this holiday season.

Today I did something I've been looking forward to for LITERALLY an entire year - I made a Christmas Cookie Box! Ever since Amy made hers last year and blew my little mind, I've been wanting to make one of my very own! I have had on my to-do list for a few weeks now, with a little post-it note in my diary with ideas of what I wanted to put inside, but I suddenly realised that Christmas is just around the corner and I was going to have to get a serious wiggle on if I wanted to pull this off in time! 

So the entirety of yesterday was spent baking my little heart out in order to make all the little things I wanted to include in the box! (Plus a bonus batch of chocolate sugar cookies because Rich tried one and couldn't stop eating them). It all went fairly smoothly, I stayed up WAY too late tempering a giant bowl of chocolate, and then today I did a little happy dance in the kitchen when it all came together far better than I ever could have imagined! I bought this box from a craft store, and then drew up a little pattern of how I wanted the dividers to look, and rich cut them all for me on the laser cutter, then etched a little pretty pattern on the top! I kind of wish that I had done this a little earlier, as I would have made loads of them to give as gifts! I made full batches of everything I made, so our coffee table is currently drowning in sweet food, but I am planning to take it all to Jill's where it will hopefully get eaten by the Christmas crowd!

I wanted to do a mixture of cookies and other little treats that I associate with Christmas in New Zealand, so I went with a couple of cookie recipes that I already had, and then added in a couple of my faves - honey caramel corn (aka one of the most addictive things I have ever made), coconut ice, which is a coconut fudge made with condensed milk, and Rocky Road, which is marshmallows and other goodies (I used sugar cookies and cranberries) folded through tempered dark chocolate and set into a bar. I haven't made coconut Ice or Rocky Road since I was a kid, so it was so fun to re-live all those excited for christmas memories that making them brings! The Caramel Corn and the Rocky Road recipes were based on recipes from The Cook and Baker, which is one of my fave books to bake from! The treats were the perfect balance of things to go alongside my cookies - I did a DIY S'mores kit, Roll-out sugar cookies, and then sugar cookies with vanilla bean marshmallow. In the end the box contained:

  • Coconut Ice
  • Marshmallow and sugar cookie Rocky Road with Cranberries
  • Honey Caramel Corn
  • Chocolate and vanilla sugar cookies, sandwiched with vanilla bean marshmallow
  • Roll-out sugar cookies, some piped, some sandwiched with jam
  • Components to make S'mores - graham crackers, vanilla bean marshmallows and dark chocolate
  • Two sprinkles compartments!

To make it a little easier on myself, I wanted to make some of the recipes usable in a number of the components. The Marshmallow for the S'mores kit was also piped between some of the sugar cookies, and also used in the Rocky Road. The sugar cookies were used in the marshmallow cookie sandwiches, but I also used them in the Rocky Road too because of how delicious and chewy they were. Little steps like this meant that less components overall were needed. The box came out amazingly, and I can't wait to make more! Any aspect of this would make great gifts for the holiday season. Merry Merry!

Some of the recipes are new, which I will share below, and some are already from this blog. Overall, I made:

  • One Batch of these Sugar cookies
  • One batch of the same sugar cookies, but subbing 50g of flour for 25g black cocoa and 25g regular cocoa to make chocolate sugar cookies
  • One large batch of vanilla bean marshmallow (this, but without the peppermint) for S'mores Kits, and the Rocky Road. I also piped a little between some of the sugar cookies to make sandwiches. Once I had piped out some to make sandwich cookies, I set the rest in a 9" x 13" tin
  • One Smaller batch (these quantities) of vanilla bean marshmallow, which I tinted with pink gel food colouring and set in a 9" x 9" tin 
  • A batch of these Graham Crackers for the S'mores Kit
  • One batch of these roll-out sugar cookies. I sandwiched some with jam, and piped some of them with royal icing and a wilton #1 tip
  • Rocky Road (recipe to follow) 
  • Coconut Ice (recipe to follow)
  • Honey Caramel Corn (Recipe to follow)

I hope that you give some of these a try! You can mix and match, or make just one component, or a couple, or add in your own things - it's so much fun to put together! Please let me know if there are any Recipe Questions! 

A few wee tips:

  • For the Rocky Road, I tempered the chocolate, which made it stable at room temp, and beautiful and shiny. If you don't want to do this regular chocolate will work just as well, but ensure that you store in the fridge. 
  • Rocky Road is often made with turkish delight, but I subbed that this time with 500g of chopped sugar cookie (I used a mix of chocolate and vanilla). They added a nice chewy texture. 
  • You can add whatever you like to this - dried fruit, nuts, the options are endless.
  • The Honey Caramel Corn Recipe makes loads - but just watch it disappear quickly. 
 

 

Rocky Road

- Makes one 9" x 13" tin  -

Recipe Adapted from The Cook and Baker

500g white and pink marshmallows (I used home made, cut into 1/2" pieces)
500g chopped sugar cookies (I used home made, from this recipe)
200g dried cranberries
1.5kg (3 lbs 5 oz) good quality dark chocolate, chopped
35g Freeze Dried Raspberries (optional)
Flaky Sea Salt, to finish

- PROCESS -

Grease a 9" x 13" pan, and line with parchment paper, leaving some extending over the edges to form a "sling".

In a very large bowl, combine the marshmallows, sugar cookies and cranberries, and toss to combine. 

Place a large heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Place 1kg (2lb 4 oz) of the chocolate in the bowl, and stir constantly until melted. Using a sugar thermometer, continue stirring the chocolate until it reaches 50˚c / 122˚f. Add the remaining chocolate, remove from the saucepan, and continue to stir until the remaining chocolate is melted and the chocolate temperature reduces to 29˚c / 84˚f. (this may take 15-20 min). Place back on the pot of water, and bring up to 32˚c / 90˚f. Once it has reached 32˚, pour over the marshmallow and cookie mixture, and stir well with a spatula to combine. 

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and smooth down with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with crushed freeze dried raspberries and flaky sea salt. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and leave to set overnight. Cut into chunks using a warmed sharp knife. Store in an airtight container

 

 

 

Coconut Ice

- Makes one 8" x 8" tin (approx 50 squares)

Slightly Adapted from Nestle

One can (400g) condensed milk
500g sifted powdered sugar
390g (5 cups) unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp salt
a few drops of red or pink gel food colouring

- PROCESS -

Grease an 8" x 8" square tin and line with a parchment paper sling. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the food colouring. Mix using a stiff spatula or your hands. Add milk a teaspoon at a time if needed to form a slightly sticky cohesive dough. Divide the mixture in half, and press half into the tin, smoothing with your fingers or an offset spatula. 

Add a couple of drops of food colouring to the remaining half, and knead to evenly distribute. Spread over the white mixture, pressing down and smoothing. Leave for a few hours to set in the fridge before cutting into squares with a warm knife. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

 

 

Honey Caramel Corn 

- Makes approx 12 cups - 

Adapted from The Cook and Baker 

12 cups freshly popped popcorn
470g dark brown sugar
300g honey
450g butter, chopped into chunks
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
Flaky sea salt, to finish

- PROCESS -

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the popcorn between them. 

Place the brown sugar, honey and butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir to combine, and continue to cook until the mixture registers  248˚f / 180˚c on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and carefully add the vanilla and salt. Stir well to combine then carefully add the baking soda, and mix in well (be careful as it will foam). Pour the caramel evenly over the two trays of popcorn, and mix well to combine. 

Bake the trays of popcorn for 10 minutes, switching the trays once half way through the process. Remove from the oven and stir to redistribute the caramel and ensure that the popcorn is evenly coated. Sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt to taste. 

Leave to cool completely before breaking into chunks. Store in an airtight container. 

 

THE ultimate holiday cookie box - with something for everyone. Coconut ice, Honey Caramel Corn, sugar cookie marshmallow sandwiches, marshmallow and sugar cookie rocky road, piped roll out sugar cookies, and a DIY S'mores kit. What more could you wish for - this would be the perfect gift this holiday season.

My Great Grandmother's Christmas Cake


 
My Great Grandmother's Christmas cake - a rich fruit cake, loaded with dried fruit and christmas spice. A family heirloom in itself!
My Great Grandmother's Christmas cake - a rich fruit cake, loaded with dried fruit and christmas spice. A family heirloom in itself!
My Great Grandmother's Christmas cake - a rich fruit cake, loaded with dried fruit and christmas spice. A family heirloom in itself!
My Great Grandmother's Christmas cake - a rich fruit cake, loaded with dried fruit and christmas spice. A family heirloom in itself!
My Great Grandmother's Christmas cake - a rich fruit cake, loaded with dried fruit and christmas spice. A family heirloom in itself!

One of my most treasured possessions is my Grandmother’s recipe book. I’m not quite sure how this came to be - as Grandchild 17 of 18, I am literally almost at the bottom of the pile. But I somehow managed to get lucky. It’s falling to pieces in a way only the most loved books do - the favourite recipes recognisable by messy tattered pages. Aside from a few recipes taken from magazines or glued in recipe cards, and a couple written by the grandchildren (along with their name and age at the top), the majority of recipes are written in my Grandma’s familiar curly writing, which got a little shaky toward the end as her eyes failed her.

There’s something insanely soothing about baking from this book. On the pages are the recipes which taught me to bake. We spent every Summer holiday staying with my Grandparents, and Grandma and I would spend hours and hours in the kitchen, where she taught me all sorts of things. The recipes themselves can be quite vague - often there are no tin sizes or baking times, but that is part of the fun of working out how she used to do it. Parts of it I remember, parts of it I turn to Mum or one of my Aunties to ask them, and parts of it I just wing it and hope some sort of muscle memory will help me out. And usually they turn out just as I remembered. It’s probably good luck or an educated guess, but I like to think that she’s secretly helping me out - the diamond in my ring belonged to her, so whenever I bake from the book it gets turned around so it is inside my hand, just the way she wore it, my little good luck charm.

Something which was made every year at the start of December was a Christmas Cake. This isn’t quite the one that I remember eating - as Grandma’s eyes got worse, Mum took over the cake making duties, and would opt for a slightly lighter cake, but this is the one I remember making with Grandma when I was very young. According to her book, this was her Mother’s recipe, and it is one of the dirtiest, most used pages of them all.

I had to interpret the recipe a little - there was no method, or indication of what size cake tin to use (Grandma used her Mum’s tin, and it was just ‘the christmas cake tin’), but as soon as I took the first bite, it tasted exactly as I remember, so it must have all turned out just fine.

I am super excited to be sharing this on the Bake From Scratch website today. Head on over there for the recipe! 

 

 

 
My Great Grandmother's Christmas cake - a rich fruit cake, loaded with dried fruit and christmas spice. A family heirloom in itself!

Gingerbread Brioche Doughnuts with Spiced Brown Sugar Diplomat Cream


 
Gingerbread doughnuts with a spiced brown sugar diplomat cream. Pillowy brioche dough, spiced lightly with ginger and molasses, are stuffed with a light and creamy filling which is loaded with christmas spice. A perfect little package of holiday cheer
Gingerbread doughnuts with a spiced brown sugar diplomat cream. Pillowy brioche dough, spiced lightly with ginger and molasses, are stuffed with a light and creamy filling which is loaded with christmas spice. A perfect little package of holiday cheer
Gingerbread doughnuts with a spiced brown sugar diplomat cream. Pillowy brioche dough, spiced lightly with ginger and molasses, are stuffed with a light and creamy filling which is loaded with christmas spice. A perfect little package of holiday cheer
Gingerbread doughnuts with a spiced brown sugar diplomat cream. Pillowy brioche dough, spiced lightly with ginger and molasses, are stuffed with a light and creamy filling which is loaded with christmas spice. A perfect little package of holiday cheer
Gingerbread doughnuts with a spiced brown sugar diplomat cream. Pillowy brioche dough, spiced lightly with ginger and molasses, are stuffed with a light and creamy filling which is loaded with christmas spice. A perfect little package of holiday cheer
Gingerbread doughnuts with a spiced brown sugar diplomat cream. Pillowy brioche dough, spiced lightly with ginger and molasses, are stuffed with a light and creamy filling which is loaded with christmas spice. A perfect little package of holiday cheer
Gingerbread doughnuts with a spiced brown sugar diplomat cream. Pillowy brioche dough, spiced lightly with ginger and molasses, are stuffed with a light and creamy filling which is loaded with christmas spice. A perfect little package of holiday cheer
Gingerbread doughnuts with a spiced brown sugar diplomat cream. Pillowy brioche dough, spiced lightly with ginger and molasses, are stuffed with a light and creamy filling which is loaded with christmas spice. A perfect little package of holiday cheer

I'm finally feeling semi Christmassy. And if semi Christmassy means very stressed and a little Christmassy, then i'm feeling that too. So I took all the very stressed and semi Christmassy I am feeling, and I jammed it all into these doughnuts. It was a great idea if you ask me - doughnuts are the ultimate comfort food in my book. They sound daunting to make but are really very satisfying - I love watching them puff up in the oil as they fry. I happily spent an afternoon ignoring adulting, and whipping these wee guys up, and they turned out far too good to just keep the recipe to myself.

I wanted to have some warming christmas spice in there, to keep it extra holiday-ish, so I adapted my favourite brioche dough (it's amazing in scrolls, burger buns, babka, and now turns out it can be fried!), and added a little ground ginger and molasses. I then filled them with a brown sugar spiced diplomat cream - which is really just a fancy name for pastry cream / custard which has been folded through whipped cream. I spiced the pastry cream with the regular suspects - cinnamon, allspice and a little ginger to help carry the flavour through. Once it was folded in with the whipped cream, it made for a beautiful filling - not too sweet, and lovely and light against the fluffy doughnut. (My friend said that she though that it was 'refreshing' which I though was a nice way of putting it!)

I'm not going to tell you what to do - but I think you should make these for your christmas gathering. The dough can be prepared ahead of time - you can give it its first rise in the fridge overnight, and the filling can be made in advance too. They are the perfect wee twist on a regular filled doughnut - just enough spice to make you think of the holidays, but also a welcome change to all of the cookies and desserts you are likely to encounter. Plus. Doughnuts. 

A few wee tips:

  • A thermometer is going to be your friend here, as it is very important to keep the oil at a specific temperature. Too cold and the doughnuts will soak up oil, too hot and the outsides will cook before the inside does, and you will have a gooey mess. (if you don't have a thermometer and a set of scales, then I suggest you self-gift ASAP this holiday season, both are game changers) 
  • Along the same lines of specific oil temperature, cast iron is great to fry in because it maintains heat very well.
  • The Dough can be made the night before you want to make these, and given its first rest in the fridge. Just increase the second rise a little once you have cut them out to allow the dough to warm up.
  • Pastry cream can be made ahead too, but I suggest, if possible, folding through the whipped cream the day you are planning on using it. You may have a little diplomat cream left over, but it is awesome on fruit / desserts / straight out of the piping bag into your mouth.
  • I measure the amount of pastry cream I have, then use 2/3 that amount (multiply the amount of pastry cream by 0.66) of cream, hence the 'approximately' in the method - you will need to do some quick maths to work it out when the time comes. 
 

 

Gingerbread Brioche Doughnuts with Spiced Brown Sugar Diplomat Cream

- Makes 14-16 doughnuts -

Spiced Brown Sugar Diplomat Cream
100g egg yolks (about 8 yolks)
105g sugar
30g corn starch
412g whole milk
1 Tbsp vanilla paste, or the scrapings from one vanilla bean
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
20g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Approximately 300g heavy cream

Bread Dough
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 cup (240ml) whole milk, lukewarm
3 Tbsp brown sugar, divided
3 3/4 cups (565g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 Tbsp unsulphered molasses  
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
90g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Neutral Oil, for frying (about 4-6 cups)
Granulated sugar for tossing doughnuts

 

- PROCESS -

DIPLOMAT CREAM

 

In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar and cornflour.

In a medium pot, warm the milk, vanilla paste and spices until there is movement just around the edges of the milk - do not bring it to the boil. 

Remove the milk from the heat, and, whisking constantly, add half of the milk mixture into the egg and cornflour mixture to temper the egg yolks. Whisk briskly for 30 seconds. Transfer the milk-yolk mixture back to the pot, and return to a medium heat. Whisk constantly until very thick. 

Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, mixing well until totally combined. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, whisking occasionally. 

Strain the pastry cream through a mesh sieve, and into a bowl. Cool to room temperature then place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the pastry cream to prevent a skin. Place in the fridge until completely cooled.

When you are ready to fill the doughnuts, weigh the amount of pastry cream that you have - it should be around 450g (see notes). Whip 300g cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold through the pastry cream until well combined. Store in the fridge if not using immediately.

BRIOCHE DOUGHNUTS

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 1 Tbsp of the brown sugar. Mix well, and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and remaining 2 Tbsp brown sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs, molasses, vanilla, and foamy yeast mixture to the bowl. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is starting to come together. It may look slightly dry but do not worry - it will mix together nicely in the next steps. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for another 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth. 

Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next piece. This process should take 3-4 minutes. Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is very soft and smooth. 

Transfer to an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot until doubled in size, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours. 

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Roll into a circle that is about 2cm thick (3/4 inch). Leave to sit for 5 minutes to allow the dough to relax.

Cut out circle shapes using a cookie cutter approximately 2.5 inches (6cm) in diameter. Place the cut doughnuts on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Leave the doughnuts to proof for a further 20 minutes. When you poke them lightly with your finger, it should leave a small indentation that springs back. 

While the doughnuts are proofing, heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron works great). Heat the oil to 175-180˚c / 340-350˚f. Fill a shallow bowl with sugar for tossing the doughnuts.

Once the oil has come to temperature, test it with a few scraps of dough. Gently lower the doughnuts, two at a time, into the hot oil. Cook for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 30 seconds before tossing in the sugar. Repeat the process with the rest of the doughnuts. Once the doughnuts are cool, poke a hole in them using a chopstick, and widen the hole using your finger.

ASSEMBLY

Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized round tip with the diplomat cream. Carefully fill the cavity of the doughnut with the diplomat cream as full as the doughnut will allow you - you can usually feel when they are full as they suddenly feel heavier. When you pull away the piping bag, a little of the pastry cream should ooze out. 

Serve immediately. Leftover doughnuts can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge - bring to room temperature before serving, and sprinkle with a little fresh granulated sugar.

Gingerbread doughnuts with a spiced brown sugar diplomat cream. Pillowy brioche dough, spiced lightly with ginger and molasses, are stuffed with a light and creamy filling which is loaded with christmas spice. A perfect little package of holiday cheer