The Ultimate Vanilla Bean Christmas Treat Box


 
The Ultimate Vanilla Bean Christmas Box. All of the christmas treats for your recipe planning for this upcoming holiday season! Chocolate Shortbread cookies with Vanilla bean Dulce de Leche filling, vanilla bean meringues, vanilla bean macarons, Vanilla bean shortbread, vanilla bean passionfruit fudge, vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix, and vanilla bean marshmallows. The perfect treat box for christmas!
The Ultimate Vanilla Bean Christmas Box. All of the christmas treats for your recipe planning for this upcoming holiday season! Chocolate Shortbread cookies with Vanilla bean Dulce de Leche filling, vanilla bean meringues, vanilla bean macarons, Vanilla bean shortbread, vanilla bean passionfruit fudge, vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix, and vanilla bean marshmallows. The perfect treat box for christmas!
The Ultimate Vanilla Bean Christmas Box. All of the christmas treats for your recipe planning for this upcoming holiday season! Chocolate Shortbread cookies with Vanilla bean Dulce de Leche filling, vanilla bean meringues, vanilla bean macarons, Vanilla bean shortbread, vanilla bean passionfruit fudge, vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix, and vanilla bean marshmallows. The perfect treat box for christmas!
The Ultimate Vanilla Bean Christmas Box. All of the christmas treats for your recipe planning for this upcoming holiday season! Chocolate Shortbread cookies with Vanilla bean Dulce de Leche filling, vanilla bean meringues, vanilla bean macarons, Vanilla bean shortbread, vanilla bean passionfruit fudge, vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix, and vanilla bean marshmallows. The perfect treat box for christmas!
The Ultimate Vanilla Bean Christmas Box. All of the christmas treats for your recipe planning for this upcoming holiday season! Chocolate Shortbread cookies with Vanilla bean Dulce de Leche filling, vanilla bean meringues, vanilla bean macarons, Vanilla bean shortbread, vanilla bean passionfruit fudge, vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix, and vanilla bean marshmallows. The perfect treat box for christmas!
The Ultimate Vanilla Bean Christmas Box. All of the christmas treats for your recipe planning for this upcoming holiday season! Chocolate Shortbread cookies with Vanilla bean Dulce de Leche filling, vanilla bean meringues, vanilla bean macarons, Vanilla bean shortbread, vanilla bean passionfruit fudge, vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix, and vanilla bean marshmallows. The perfect treat box for christmas!
The Ultimate Vanilla Bean Christmas Box. All of the christmas treats for your recipe planning for this upcoming holiday season! Chocolate Shortbread cookies with Vanilla bean Dulce de Leche filling, vanilla bean meringues, vanilla bean macarons, Vanilla bean shortbread, vanilla bean passionfruit fudge, vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix, and vanilla bean marshmallows. The perfect treat box for christmas!
The Ultimate Vanilla Bean Christmas Box. All of the christmas treats for your recipe planning for this upcoming holiday season! Chocolate Shortbread cookies with Vanilla bean Dulce de Leche filling, vanilla bean meringues, vanilla bean macarons, Vanilla bean shortbread, vanilla bean passionfruit fudge, vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix, and vanilla bean marshmallows. The perfect treat box for christmas!
The Ultimate Vanilla Bean Christmas Box. All of the christmas treats for your recipe planning for this upcoming holiday season! Chocolate Shortbread cookies with Vanilla bean Dulce de Leche filling, vanilla bean meringues, vanilla bean macarons, Vanilla bean shortbread, vanilla bean passionfruit fudge, vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix, and vanilla bean marshmallows. The perfect treat box for christmas!
The Ultimate Vanilla Bean Christmas Box. All of the christmas treats for your recipe planning for this upcoming holiday season! Chocolate Shortbread cookies with Vanilla bean Dulce de Leche filling, vanilla bean meringues, vanilla bean macarons, Vanilla bean shortbread, vanilla bean passionfruit fudge, vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix, and vanilla bean marshmallows. The perfect treat box for christmas!

It’s finally (but suddenly already) December, which means it is time for the best part of Christmas - Holiday Cookie Boxes! I’m totally hooked on making these after last year’s one, so was super super excited when Heilala Vanilla asked me to come up with a Christmas treat recipe. I couldn’t help myself and went all out with this vanilla inspired cookie box.

I’ve spoken about Heilala in the past and how much I love not only their products, but the people behind the company and what they stand for, and I couldn’t be prouder to work with them. Not only do they control the production of the Vanilla from cultivation to processing, but they are doing amazing things in Tonga in terms of injecting money into the economy and increasing employment opportunities for Women. The company is New Zealand owned, and run by amazing people who are so passionate about what they do and giving back. Their vanilla truly is the best I have ever used, and I almost can’t bake without it.

I wanted to focus a little more on the treats that are made around Christmas this time around, rather than cookies. In New Zealand, it is hot at Christmas time, so we don’t have the same cozy baking traditions I have come to learn are common over here - everyone is too busy staying cool and spending time at the beach. What we do usually have though, is lots of little yummy bits and pieces to snack on or to bring out when guests come - things that you can make a lot of ahead, and keep in a couple of airtight containers to bring out when needed (that’s what happens in my family anyway).

I started out with a tradition in my family - my Great Great Grandmother’s Shortbread recipe. This was one of the first things I ever learnt to bake with my Grandma, and was always around at Christmas, so I knew it had to be included. They are super simple to make, and the recipe can easily be doubled, so are perfect for times when you will have a lot of people around. I also added my favourite chocolate shortbread cookie, which was sandwiched with a vanilla bean dulce de leche filling. These cookies also make a great roll-out cookie for decorating with royal icing, and are a nice twist on the standard sugar cookie.

Macarons had to make an appearance, so I stuck with a Vanilla Bean macaron with a Vanilla Bean Swiss meringue buttercream. I added some vanilla bean meringues to the lineup - they are super easy to make, and you can pipe out a bunch of different sizes to use as part of desserts through the holiday season too. I then made a quick batch of vanilla bean marshmallows, using honey and Heilala’s Vanilla sugar. These can also be batch made (you can double the recipe I have here very easily), and last forever kept in an airtight container. They also make perfect S’mores!

My favourite parts of this treat box are the Vanilla bean Passionfruit fudge, and the Vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix. Both of these, to me, scream Christmas - little treats to pick at, or to pop out for an easy dessert or sweet addition to a cheese board. Both are pretty easy to put together, and make loads, so you will be fully stocked up, although you’re probably going to need to make more of the nuts - I made a big batch two days ago, took them to the studio, and they got totally destroyed. The passionfruit fudge is a total nod to home for me - it is my absolute favourite fruit, and was the perfect addition to fudge to compliment the Vanilla bean.

So there we are! My Vanilla bean Christmas treat box. These are all perfect in a holiday cookie box, or you can mix and match with some of your favourite recipes too. If you are looking for good christmas gifts or stocking stuffers, I dunno about you but I would be stoked to get a jar of Vanilla. Happy Holidays!

Here’s what we ended up with:

  • Vanilla bean shortbread

  • Chocolate shortbread with vanilla bean dulce de leche (plus a few piped with royal icing, and a few cut out with stars)

  • Vanilla bean meringues

  • Vanilla bean macarons with a vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream

  • Vanilla bean marshmallows

  • Vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix

  • Vanilla bean and passionfruit fudge

A few wee tips:

  • I used this box to make this cookie box - Rich cut me little dividers on the laser cutter, but the craft wood is soft enough that you can use a craft knife and a ruler. I then just taped the dividers in.

  • Most of the components need to be stored in airtight containers, so make sure that if you are making a cookie box, you account for storage!

  • Mix and match the heck out of this box - use any recipes you like, and arrange the dividers any way you like. There are more ideas here - which actually all utilise vanilla bean too!

  • If you have any questions whatsoever please please feel free to ask - I will do my very best to help out!

 

 

Vanilla Bean Shortbread

- Makes about 24 -


225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp Heilala Vanilla bean paste
270g all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
1/4 tsp salt

 

- PROCESS -

Preheat the oven to 300˚f / 150˚c. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla bean paste until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Sift together the flour, corn starch and salt, and add to the mixing bowl. Mix on low until combined.

Turn out the dough onto your work surface and divide into two. Shape into two rectangle shaped logs, then using a sharp knife, cut slices approximately 1cm (0.4”), and place on the prepared lined baking sheets, leaving room for spreading.

Bake the shortbread for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pans half way through, until very lightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.  

 

 

Chocolate Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Vanilla Bean Dulce de Leche

- Makes about 18 Sandwich Cookies -

Notes: The Dulce de Leche requires some prep ahead work - boiling a can of condensed milk, so make sure you leave time for this + cooling if you make. I cut out some of the dough into larger circles and made Royal icing to decorate - I used a piping bag and a wilton #1 tip.

Shortbread recipe adapted from Now, Forager

Vanilla Bean Dulce de Leche Filling
1 400g (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk, or one can of premade Dulce de Leche
1 tsp Heilala vanilla bean paste

Chocolate Shortbread
185g unsalted butter, at room temperature
80g powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Heilala vanilla bean paste
185g all-purpose flour, sifted
50g cocoa, sifted

 

- PROCESS -

VANILLA BEAN DULCE DE LECHE FILLING

Peel the wrapper off a can of condensed milk, and place it on its side in a large pot. Cover with water by at least 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer the can for 3 hours, checking often to make sure the water is well above the level of the can, and topping up when necessary. Remove from the pot with tongs and allow to cool completely.

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla bean paste until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Add the sifted flour and cocoa powder, and mix just to combine. 

Dump the dough out onto a large piece of parchment, and place a second piece over the top. Roll the dough out between the two pieces of parchment, until is is approx 1/4" (6mm) thick. Place the dough on a baking sheet, and place into the freezer for 15-20 minutes, or until very firm.

Remove from the freezer. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the top piece of parchment, and cut 2" (5cm) circles using a fluted cookie cutter. Place them on the baking sheet, with a little space between. Place the cut-out cookies in the freezer for 10 minutes, then, using a small cutter in your desired shape, cut out holes in the centre of half the cookies. Re-roll scraps as needed, freezing briefly before cutting out.

Bake the cookies, one tray at a time (or two if your oven is good), for 11-12 minutes, or until set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

ASSEMBLY

Pair the cookies so each pair has a solid cookie, and a cookie with a cut-out. Open the cooled can of Dulce de Leche, and transfer to a small bowl (be careful not to scrape out completely as sometimes sugar gathers on the bottom of the tin). Add the vanilla paste, and mix well until combined and smooth. Transfer to a small piping bag, and snip a small hole in the end.

Pipe a small blob onto one half of the cookie pair (the solid half), and top with a cut-out half. Press carefully to sandwich. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Best eaten on the day they are made - if you would like to prepare ahead, store the filling and cookies separately until ready to serve.

 

 

Vanilla Bean Meringue Kisses

- Makes about 60 meringue kisses, or about 24 nests -

Note: This recipe is very scaleable - the ratio of egg whites to sugar is 1:1.5, so adjust to your liking. Because the meringues are essentially ‘dried’ rather than cooked, you can pipe various sizes and bake all together.

200g egg whites
300g granulated sugar
1 tsp Heilala vanilla bean paste
Red Sprinkles to finish, optional

 

- PROCESS -

MERINGUE

Preheat the oven to 225˚f / 110˚c. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Line a large piping bag with your tip of choice (I used an Ateco #826).

Measure the egg whites and granulated sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer or other heatproof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat the mixture, whisking often and watching the edges carefully, until it no longer feels gritty when rubbed between your fingers, and it registers at least 70˚c / 160˚f on a thermometer. 

Carefully transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the vanilla. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form, approximately 4-5 minutes. Transfer to piping bag.

Pipe 'kisses', onto the baking paper lined sheets, leaving a small amount of space between each (they will not spread in the oven). You can pipe whatever shape you would like here - blobs, nests, kisses etc. Finish with red sprinkles if desired.

Place the baking sheets into the oven. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until they feel firm and no longer sticky, and peel cleanly off the paper when you lift them up. Turn off the oven, and leave them in there for at least an additional hour to dry out and crisp up.

Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

 

 

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

- Makes about 24 Macarons -

Macaron Shells
One batch of these macaron shells, leaving out food colouring and using sprinkles of your choice

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream
60g egg whites
100g granulated sugar
½ tsp Heilala vanilla bean paste
225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

- PROCESS -

VANILLA BEAN SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

Place the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or a heat proof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bowl. Heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture registers 160˚f / 70˚c on a thermometer and the sugar has dissolved. Carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites on high until they are snowy white and fluffy, 8-10 minutes. Add the butter one chunk at a time. The mixture may look curdled - but just keep mixing! Once all the butter is incorporated, mix on high for a further 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.

Once the buttercream has finished mixing, and is smooth and silky, add in the vanilla bean paste. Mix for a further 2-3 minutes, then switch to the paddle attachment and mix on low for one minute to remove any air.

ASSEMBLY

Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a round attachment (such as an ateco #805) Match the macaron shells up so that they are in pairs of equal size.

Pipe a blob of buttercream on one half of the macaron, and place the second half on top, pressing lightly. Macarons are best after an overnight rest in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before eating.

 

 

Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

- Makes about 36 square marshmallows -

Marshmallow recipe adapted from Bravetart

30g corn starch
30g powdered sugar
14g (2 packets) powdered gelatine
76g cold water
103g liquid honey
76g water
265g Heilala vanilla sugar, or granulated sugar
1 tsp Heilala vanilla bean paste
pinch of salt

 

- PROCESS -

Sift together the corn starch and powdered sugar. Spray an 8” baking tin (20cm) with cooking spray, or grease with butter, then liberally dust with the corn starch and powdered sugar mixture. Set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the first measure of water and gelatine. Mix well with a fork, and leave to bloom while you prepare the sugar syrup. 

In a medium pot, combine the water, corn syrup, vanilla, and sugar. Heat over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally. Heat until the syrup reaches 240˚f /120˚c, then remove from the heat and leave to cool to 210˚f /100˚c.

Turn the mixer on to medium, and mix for a few seconds to help break up the bloomed gelatin. With the mixer running, VERY carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the mixer. Turn the speed up to high, and whip for 4-5 minutes, until the marshmallow has doubled in volume, has turned white, and holds somewhat of a peak when you stop the mixer and lift out the whisk. Scrape into the prepared baking tin and spread with an oiled offset spatula, smoothing as much as possible. Dust liberally with the corn starch mixture and allow to cure for at least 1-2 hours. Turn out onto a board, dust with more corn starch mixture, and cut into squares using a knife dipped in the corn starch mixture. Roll cut marshmallows in the corn starch mixture.

Store in an airtight container.

 

 

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramel Nut Mix

- Makes about 3 cups of Nuts -

Note: This recipe is very scaleable - it would double very well, and the nuts keep for a long time in an airtight container. Toasting them really helps to bring out the depth of flavour. You can use any nuts you like here.

1 cup skinned hazelnuts (I used skinned, if you have nuts with the skin on, rub them together after toasting to remove skins)
1 cup walnut halves
1 cup pecan halves
250g granulated sugar
45g (3 Tbsp) water
15g (1 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp Heilala vanilla bean paste
1 Tbsp flaky sea salt (such as maldon)

 

- PROCESS -

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Spread the nuts onto a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, shaking the baking sheet frequently, until they smell toasty. Remove from the oven, skin the hazelnuts if needed by rubbing them together in a tea towel, and pour into a large heatproof bowl. Wipe the baking sheet down and line with a silpat mat or parchment paper.

Place the sugar and water into a medium heavy bottomed saucepan. Place over low to medium heat, without stirring, and washing down the sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the mixture is amber in colour. Remove from the heat, and add the butter, whisking well to combine. Use caution as it may splatter. Stir in the vanilla, and whisk to combine.

Pour the caramel mixture over the nuts in the heatproof bowl, and toss well using a silicone spatula to combine.

Working quickly, dump out onto the lined baking sheet, and separate using two forks. Sprinkle with the flaky sea salt. Leave to cool and harden. Break apart and store in an airtight container.

 

 

Vanilla Bean and Passionfruit Fudge

- Makes about 36 pieces -

Notes: I used passionfruit pulp to make this - you can either use fresh pulp from fruit, or you can purchase the pulp packaged from some supermarkets - make sure it is unsweetened. You will need a candy thermometer for this - make sure that in the first step you cook the sugar and milk together very slowly to dissolve the sugar so the end product is not grainy.

Recipe adapted from Edmond’s Cookbook

900g granulated sugar
190g whole milk
225g sweetened condensed milk
190g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
140g (1/2 cup) passionfruit pulp
2 tsp Heilala vanilla bean paste

 

- PROCESS -

Grease an 8” square (20cm) baking tin with butter, and line with two pieces of parchment, extending over the edges of the tin to form a ‘sling’. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, combine the sugar and whole milk. Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat slightly and add the condensed milk, butter, salt, and passionfruit pulp. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 115˚c / 239˚f on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Alternatively, use and electric mixer and beat directly in the pot.

Beat the fudge mixture on high speed for approximately 6 minutes, until it has thickened and lost its gloss. Pour into the prepared tin and spread with an offset spatula. Chill until hardened, then cut into pieces with a sharp knife. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

The Ultimate Vanilla Bean Christmas Box. All of the christmas treats for your recipe planning for this upcoming holiday season! Chocolate Shortbread cookies with Vanilla bean Dulce de Leche filling, vanilla bean meringues, vanilla bean macarons, Vanilla bean shortbread, vanilla bean passionfruit fudge, vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix, and vanilla bean marshmallows. The perfect treat box for christmas!
The Ultimate Vanilla Bean Christmas Box. All of the christmas treats for your recipe planning for this upcoming holiday season! Chocolate Shortbread cookies with Vanilla bean Dulce de Leche filling, vanilla bean meringues, vanilla bean macarons, Vanilla bean shortbread, vanilla bean passionfruit fudge, vanilla bean salted caramel nut mix, and vanilla bean marshmallows. The perfect treat box for christmas!

Thank you so much to Heilala Vanilla for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.

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 light brown sugar
30g corn starch
415g 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

Jam Sandwich Cookies with Homemade Raspberry Jam


 

TOMORROW. Tomorrow is Christmas eve! I am finally starting to get excited, now that I have finished writing 9 jillion emails. And what is Christmas without cookies! 

These are a super simple sugar cookie, sandwiched together with home made jam. Raspberry jam has been added to my ever growing list of "things I didn't realise are really easy to make" - It just requires equal parts by volume of sugar and crushed raspberries, and a little lemon juice to cut through the sweetness. Raspberries have loads of pectin in their seeds, so you don't need to worry about adding any to help with setting. If you are planning on making it ahead, I would recommend doing it either the day before or a few hours before so that it has time to cool. If you are making lots, make sure that you store it in sterilised jars. (because it is easy to make and I usually use frozen fruit, I tend to only make a small batch at a time as we need it)

For me, these are a take on a childhood favourite - the shrewsbury biscuit, however it seems as if the sandwich cookie is a fond fave in lots of different countries. I filled these with home made jam, and also some amazing jam that my friend Candice gave me - she has a small batch jam company that she runs out of Brooklyn, and makes all kinds of amazing flavours! (Banana Jam, um YUM?!?)

The sugar cookie recipe is from one of my faves ever, Stella of Brave Tart. It requires no resting (!!), and has a lovely flavour. They are best the day after they are made so that the flavour will develop nicely, but i'm not going to judge if you make and eat them on the same day.

I used a 2.5 inch cookie cutter to make these. I found that the 'tops' with the holes punched out (I used these cutters to make the shapes in the top) baked a teeny bit smaller, so if you have a set of circle cutters that go up in small increments, you could try using the next size up for the tops so that they come out similar sizes.  

So from Me and mine to you and yours, Happy happy holidays! Stay safe and enjoy! xx

 

 

Jam Sandwich cookies
- makes approx 14 2.5 inch cookies -

Sugar Cookie recipe adapted from Serious eats/Brave Tart

Sugar Cookie
1 Stick (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100g) refined coconut oil, at room temperature
1 cup sugar (200g)
1 1/2 tsp (6g) salt
1 Tbsp Vanilla paste or extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 large egg, 
3 cups (375g) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Raspberry Jam (makes about 3 cups jam)
2 cups crushed raspberries (frozen is fine) 
2 cups (400g) sugar
squeeze of lemon juice

OR
Your favourite jam of your choice, for filling.

- PROCESS -

 

JAM

In a large pot, mash the raspberries roughly, then heat until they are at a rolling boil. Add the sugar, and boil for three minutes. Pour into container or sterilised jars, and allow to cool before using. 

SUGAR COOKIES

Preheat oven to 350f/180c. Line two or three baking trays with parchment paper. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, coconut oil, sugar, salt, vanilla paste/extract, baking powder and baking soda. Mix on low for a few seconds, then turn up the mixer to medium/high and beat for approximately 5 minutes, until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl once or twice during the process. Add the egg and beat until incorporated.

With the mixer on low, add the flour. Mix until just incorporated and the dough is balling around the paddle. Finish incorporating the flour with a spatula if necessary to form a cohesive dough. It will seem a little more sticky than most cookie doughs. Divide in two. If you are preparing the dough ahead of time, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to a week.

Turn half of the dough onto a very well floured surface. (I like to lightly flour a piece of parchment paper and roll out my dough on that). Roll to 1/4 inch (about 7mm). Cut out 2.5 inch circles out of the dough, and transfer them to the prepared baking trays using an offset spatula, leaving an inch between them for spreading. Re-roll and repeat with scraps. 

Using a smaller cutter, cut shapes from half of the circles, removing the cut out dough using a skewer if it does not come away cleanly. 

Bake one tray at a time for approximately 11-12 minutes depending on your preference, checking for doneness after 10. I prefer my cookies pale, so remove them soon after the 10 minute mark.

Allow to cool for 30-40 minutes on the baking tray, then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. 

Once the cookies are cool, sandwich a plain 'bottom' and a cut-out 'top' together using jam. 

Store in an airtight container.