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:
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
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.
- 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
- 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
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.