I'm not much of a baker, as most of you know by now if you've been visiting here for a while. You won't find that many recipes here for baked goods, though surprisingly (to me at least) the few baking recipes that I have posted are amongst my most popular. Christmas baking to me usually amounts to nothing more than the ubiquitous Christmas cake, and perhaps a dozen or two Christmas mince pies. So it intrigues me when I read how some of you spend virtually all of December baking dozens and dozens and dozens of cookies. Not only can I not imagine actually baking all those cookies, I equally can't imagine where they all go.
Anyhow, on one of my tours around blogland I came across a post about the Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap, and thought it might be fun to join in. After all, what's not to love about sending out a batch or two of cookies to fellow bloggers, and getting cookies back in return. So, I signed up and Clare at Major Cake's Kitchen Affair (a new to me blog) did too, so a swap was on.
Of course, I spent several weeks deliberating over what to bake, and I confess to more than a little anxiety. When you're not an experienced baker, the possibility of failure is high and, let's face it who wants to send a batch of failed cookies to a fellow blogger. I was also hoping to be able to put a bit of a personal touch to whatever I made, but again that would be straying into risky territory for a novice baker. In the end I decided on an adaptation of this recipe for melting moments. Melting moments are one of my favourite cookies, and I hoped fervently that Clare might be a lover too. I put my own spin on it by adding vanilla paste to the cookie dough, and some freeze-dried mango powder to the filling. The resulting cookies were light, buttery, and flecked with vanilla, and the hint of mango flavour in the filling made a nice twist on the original without being too risky. In the end I was thrilled to be able to send these to Clare and I hope she enjoys them.
In return, Clare sent me these stunningly festive Christmas Shortbreads. Every single one of them was individually wrapped, which was a lovely touch. These shortbreads are deliciously crisp and buttery, with a bit of crunch from the sugar on top, and the red and green sprinkles really say Christmas. Do go and visit Clare - she has only been blogging for a few months, but her blog is already chock full of delicious sweet treats. I'm very tempted by her recipe for Homemade Limoncello - looks like a great project for the weekend.
Mango Melting Moments Recipe
Adapted from this recipe at Taste.co.au
200g (7 oz) soft butter
115g (4 oz) flour
45g (1-1/2 oz) icing sugar
50g (1-3/4 oz) custard powder
3/4 teaspoon vanilla paste
For the filling:
60g (2oz) soft butter
2/3 cup icing sugar
Fresh As freeze-dried mango powder to taste
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C (320 degrees F).
Place soft butter in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Add flour, icing sugar, custard powder and vanilla paste, and mix with a wooden spoon until everything is fully combined.
Roll cookie dough into small balls and place on a parchment lined baking tray about 2.5cm (1 inch) apart. Use the back of a fork to slightly flatten the balls of doughs and leave the traditional indentations in the tops.
Put into the hot oven and bake until lightly browned and cooked through - about 15 minutes. You may need to turn the tray halfway through.
Remove from oven. After a few minutes remove cookies to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
To prepare the filling, beat butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy - an electric mixer is ideal for this job. Add mango powder to taste - I used close to a tablespoon.
Spread filling over the flat half of one cookie, and sandwich with another. Repeat until all cookies have been filled.
I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to have participated for the first time in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and look forward to joining in again next year. Hopefully a few more Kiwi bloggers will feel inspired to join in next year as well.
This will be a submission to Sweet New Zealand, inspired by Alessandra Zecchini and hosted this month by the lovely Lydia at Lydia Bakes.