The Ultimate Valentine's Day Treat Box


 
The Ultimate Valentine's Day treat box - a perfect mix of cookies and sweet treats to help celebrate valentine's day or the ones you love. This would make the most amazing gift - we included macarons, painted sugar cookies, linzer cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, meringue kisses, soft earl grey caramels, and marshmallow hearts. #valentinesday #cookiebox
The Ultimate Valentine's Day treat box - a perfect mix of cookies and sweet treats to help celebrate valentine's day or the ones you love. This would make the most amazing gift - we included macarons, painted sugar cookies, linzer cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, meringue kisses, soft earl grey caramels, and marshmallow hearts. #valentinesday #cookiebox
The Ultimate Valentine's Day treat box - a perfect mix of cookies and sweet treats to help celebrate valentine's day or the ones you love. This would make the most amazing gift - we included macarons, painted sugar cookies, linzer cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, meringue kisses, soft earl grey caramels, and marshmallow hearts. #valentinesday #cookiebox
The Ultimate Valentine's Day treat box - a perfect mix of cookies and sweet treats to help celebrate valentine's day or the ones you love. This would make the most amazing gift - we included macarons, painted sugar cookies, linzer cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, meringue kisses, soft earl grey caramels, and marshmallow hearts. #valentinesday #cookiebox
The Ultimate Valentine's Day treat box - a perfect mix of cookies and sweet treats to help celebrate valentine's day or the ones you love. This would make the most amazing gift - we included macarons, painted sugar cookies, linzer cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, meringue kisses, soft earl grey caramels, and marshmallow hearts. #valentinesday #cookiebox
The Ultimate Valentine's Day treat box - a perfect mix of cookies and sweet treats to help celebrate valentine's day or the ones you love. This would make the most amazing gift - we included macarons, painted sugar cookies, linzer cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, meringue kisses, soft earl grey caramels, and marshmallow hearts. #valentinesday #cookiebox
The Ultimate Valentine's Day treat box - a perfect mix of cookies and sweet treats to help celebrate valentine's day or the ones you love. This would make the most amazing gift - we included macarons, painted sugar cookies, linzer cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, meringue kisses, soft earl grey caramels, and marshmallow hearts. #valentinesday #cookiebox
The Ultimate Valentine's Day treat box - a perfect mix of cookies and sweet treats to help celebrate valentine's day or the ones you love. This would make the most amazing gift - we included macarons, painted sugar cookies, linzer cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, meringue kisses, soft earl grey caramels, and marshmallow hearts. #valentinesday #cookiebox
The Ultimate Valentine's Day treat box - a perfect mix of cookies and sweet treats to help celebrate valentine's day or the ones you love. This would make the most amazing gift - we included macarons, painted sugar cookies, linzer cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, meringue kisses, soft earl grey caramels, and marshmallow hearts. #valentinesday #cookiebox
The Ultimate Valentine's Day treat box - a perfect mix of cookies and sweet treats to help celebrate valentine's day or the ones you love. This would make the most amazing gift - we included macarons, painted sugar cookies, linzer cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, meringue kisses, soft earl grey caramels, and marshmallow hearts. #valentinesday #cookiebox

I couldn’t let Valentine’s day go by without a sneaky wee cookie box. Personally I’m not a giant fan of Valentine’s day, but what I do really love is making super cute pink stuff, so here we are! My friend Chelsea reached out a while back and asked if I wanted to do a wee valentine’s day collab with some macarons, so I roped in Jase and we took it one step further and came up with this epic Valentine’s themed treat box! We each did a bunch of prep the day before, then got together and put it all together, hung out, and took 12 zillion photos. It was the best day.

Jase and I made Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Macarons (classic v day flavour, chocolate and berries), and then some meringue kisses, which are super easy to make - the recipe makes loads, and they keep for a super long time. We also tried our hand at making some soft caramels, which turned out beautifully. We made an earl grey version, and I’m now hooked on making them and can’t wait to make more in the future. Finally, we also made some super cute marshmallow hearts, flavoured with a freeze dried raspberry powder.

Chelsea brought Sugar cookies, linzers, and chocolate sandwich cookies. She ices the cookies with royal icing and then paints on them with edible paint - I am totally, totally blown away by her talent. She did some wee heart cookies which became little conversation hearts, and then made THE most amazing, detailed, valentine’s themed cookies I have ever, ever seen. She chatted away while she just casually painted macarons, a task which would have me hiding in the corner in tears five seconds in. She’s also just an amazing human being, and will be opening a bakeshop in the near future. I am so excited for her, but also so, so grateful that I am lucky enough to call so many amazingly talented people my friends! Yay to more collabs in the future!

Here’s what we ended up with:

  • Earl Grey caramels

  • Vanilla bean Meringue Kisses

  • Raspberry Heart Shaped Marshmallows

  • Linzer Cookies with Raspberry Jam (Chelsea brought these but I have included a version below)

  • Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Macarons - Recipe Here

  • Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (This recipe, but without any leavener, and filled with extra buttercream from the macarons)

  • Decorated Sugar cookies (Chelsea made these with her recipe, but I have a version here - I like this royal icing recipe)

A few wee tips:

  • The key to a good Cookie box (in my opinion), is choosing one colour and sticking with it as a theme throughout. We went with pink for valentine’s day.

  • We did all the prep work the day beforehand, then put it together and shot it the next day!

  • Make sure you plan out your cookie box before you start so that you have a good mixture of things - I like to do a combination of cookies but also little sweet treaty things such as as the caramels and the meringue kisses

  • A good way of making things a little easier on yourself is to make some components that can be used in a few places - for example, the jam and the buttercream from the macarons can be used to fill the linzers and chocolate cookies.

  • Here is the box we used - I got Rich to make us some dividers on the laser cutter.

 

 

Earl Grey Caramels

- Makes about 160 caramels -

Recipe Adapted from ‘Candy Is Magic’ by Jami Curl

Earl Grey Cream
300g Heavy Cream
30g Loose leaf Earl grey tea

Caramels
438g Glucose syrup or light corn syrup
800g sugar
220g Earl Grey Cream
8g Kosher Salt
2g Vanilla bean powder (I used Heilala)
330g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1 inch cubes

 

- PROCESS -

EARL GREY CREAM

Place the heavy cream in a small saucepan, and heat over low to medium heat until just shy of a simmer. Add the loose leaf tea, cover the pot, and steep for 20 minutes. Strain the cream through a fine mesh sieve, pressing down on the tea to get as much liquid out as possible. Clean out the saucepan, wipe dry, and measure 220g of the cream into the saucepan. Place over a low heat until ready to use. If you are making ahead, store in an airtight container in the fridge, then rewarm when ready to use.

CARAMELS

Butter a 9” x 13” pan and have nearby.

Place the corn syrup or glucose into a large heavy bottomed saucepan (It is easiest to weigh directly into the pan). Heat over medium high, until it begins to bubble. Swirl the pot occasionally to prevent any hot spots

Sprinkle in a third of the sugar, and, using a spatula or wooden spoon, poke the sugar so it is covered by the corn syrup. Do not stir at any time. Once all of the sugar has been covered, add the second third, and repeat the poking process. Repeat with the final third of sugar.

Place the cream into a small saucepan and place over low heat. Add the salt and vanilla bean powder.

Cook the corn syrup and sugar mixture, swirling the pot occasionally, until it is dark amber in colour. This should take around 13 to 15 minutes. Do not walk away from the caramel - it is important you watch it carefully so you can swirl the pot as needed to distribute the heat and ensure even cooking.

Once the mixture is dark amber, remove from the heat, and add in the earl grey cream mixture, followed by the butter. Using a large whisk, whisk the mixture for 5 minutes, until it is completely emulsified. Make sure you whisk for the full 5 minutes to ensure this.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, and allow to set for at least 3 hours, or ideally overnight.

To cut, prepare a chopping board and sharp knife. Carefully lift the caramel out of the pan - I found it was easiest to start in one corner and slowly work my way out. Use a ruler to mark the caramel - we did approximately 1 1/2 “ by 3/4” pieces, but you can cut however you like - 1” squares work great too.

Wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane squares - we used wax paper squares.

 

 

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 Vanilla Bean Paste
Pink Gel Food colouring (Optional)

 

- PROCESS -

MERINGUE

Preheat the oven to 225˚f / 110˚c. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit two large piping bags 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 half to a to piping bag, then colour the remainder with a few drops of gel food colouring, mix to incorporate, and transfer to the second piping bag.

Use a few small blobs of meringue to secure the parchment paper to the baking sheet. 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.

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.

 

 

Raspberry Marshmallows

- Makes one 13” x 9” pan of marshmallows -

Marshmallow Dust
35g (1/4 cup) powdered sugar
35g (1/4 cup) Corn Starch

Raspberry Marshmallows
75g cold water
14g (2 sachets) powdered gelatine
75g cold water
270g Sugar
106 g light corn syrup
1 tablespoon (18g) vanilla bean paste, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
20g freeze-dried raspberry powder (we used Freshas brand)

- PROCESS -

MARSHMALLOW DUST

Sift together the powdered sugar and corn starch. Set aside - this will be used to dust the pan.

RASPBERRY MARSHMALLOWS

Grease a 9” x 13” quarter sheet pan with butter, and dust with marshmallow dust. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine 75 grams water with the powdered gelatine. Combine well and leave to bloom while you prepare the sugar syrup.

In a medium sized heavy bottom saucepan, heat the second measure of water, granulated sugar, light corn syrup, vanilla bean paste, and freeze dried raspberry powder. Cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer registers 240˚f (116˚c). Remove from the heat, and allow to cool to 210˚f (99˚c).

Turn the mixer to medium speed, and allow it to break up the gelatine slightly. Carefully stream in the sugar syrup mixture. Increase the speed to high, and beat until the marshmallow has doubled in volume, holds a small peak, and is fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Working quickly, scrape into the prepared pan, and smooth down with a lightly oiled offset spatula. Dust with additional marshmallow dust, and allow to cure for at least 3 hours.

Dust a work surface with marshmallow dust, and turn the marshmallow onto it. Using a heart cutter of your desired size, cut out heart mallows, dusting the cutter with marshmallow dust as needed.

Store in an airtight container until ready to use.


 

 

Shortbread Linzer Cookies

- Makes approximately 18 sandwich cookies, depending on size -

Shortbread Roll-out Cookies
180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
65g powdered sugar, sifted
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
265 g all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar to dust

Raspberry Quick Jam
375g frozen raspberries
400g granulated sugar

- PROCESS -

SHORTBREAD COOKIES

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla bean paste on high speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the flour, and mix on low until just combined.

Dump the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and press out into a rectangle. Wrap tightly, and refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight, to allow the butter to firm up.

Place the wrapped dough on the bench for 10-15 minutes to allow it to soften slightly. Cut two pieces of parchment paper the same size as a half baking sheet (13” x 18”). Unwrap the dough, and place between the two sheets of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, bang the dough gently to help flatten out, then roll to the size of the parchment paper. If you have some wrinkles in the parchment paper, which will then in turn cause wrinkles in your dough, peel the sheet off and smooth it back onto the dough, then continue rolling.

Once you have rolled your dough to the size of the parchment paper, transfer it, still between the two sheets of paper, to a baking sheet, and place in the freezer to firm up, 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325˚f (170˚c). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 2” fluted cookie cutter, cut circles of dough, and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet (you can fit quite a few cookies on a baking sheet, as they do not spread much). If the dough starts to soften, return to the freezer to firm up. Re-roll scraps, freeze briefly, then cut out the rest of the dough.

Place the cut out cookies in the freezer for 10 minutes, then, using a small shaped cutter, cut out a hole in the middle of half of the cookies.

One sheet at a time, bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes, until the shortbread is set and only just beginning to go golden. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 15 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

RASPBERRY QUICK JAM

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, mash the raspberries roughly. Bring to a rolling boil, and then add the sugar. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a container or sterilised jars, and allow to cool completely before using. Store in the fridge.

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

Pair up the cookies so each pair has one solid half, and one half with a cut-out. Arrange the halves with a cut-out on a wire rack, and dust generously with powdered sugar. Place all the solid halves, smooth side (the side that was facing upwards on the baking sheet) down, and, either using a piping bag or a spoon, dollop about a teaspoon of the Raspberry Jam Filling onto the halves. Top with a cut-out half, and carefully press down to sandwich. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Store leftovers in an airtight container. If you are not planning on eating these on the first or second day, store the cookies and the filling separate, and sandwich closer to eating, to avoid them going soggy.

The Ultimate Valentine's Day treat box - a perfect mix of cookies and sweet treats to help celebrate valentine's day or the ones you love. This would make the most amazing gift - we included macarons, painted sugar cookies, linzer cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, meringue kisses, soft earl grey caramels, and marshmallow hearts. #valentinesday #cookiebox

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.