Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Chocolate Star Cookies

I bake these cookies a few weeks before Christmas every year, decorate them and give them away for little gifts.  It's my thing.  I don't like buying presents for acquaintances but I do love to bake and give something home made with love.  Stacked up on top of each other wrapped in clear cellophane tied with a festive ribbon, these cookies make a lovely little gift.

The cookies are just the right size to pop into your mouth without anybody noticing.  I make a chocolate batch accompanied by a vanilla batch.  My boys and husband are often very disappointed that we give most of them away, not this time, I made two double batches to make sure there was enough to go around and some left over.  The recipe is based on Mrs Fields, Snowy White Chocolate Crescents, I just shape them a little differently.

Christmas Chocolate Star Cookies

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg


White chocolate for melting
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 160°C/325°F.  Combine flour and cocoa in a bowl, mix well, put aside.  In a medium bowl cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed.  Add vanilla and egg, and beat until light and smooth.

Scrape down sides of bowl, then add flour and cocoa mixture.

Blend on a low speed until fully incorporated.  The dough will be moist and crumbly but kneads together well.  Grab a handful of dough and roll into a ball.  Sprinkle flour on your working surface and roll out dough, lightly flouring the rolling pin so it doesn't stick.  Roll out to what ever thickness you desire, remember the thinner they are the more crispy they will be or the thicker, the more moist they will be. 

Cut out your star shapes.  When cutting out large stars I used my BBQ mate (flat metal spatula) to slide in and lift up the star so it didn't tear while transferring to the lined baking tray.  The little stars were easy to pick up and pop out of the cookie cutter.

Reserve a little dough for blending and kneading with your left over bits after cutting out the stars.  Otherwise the dough gets a little too dry and crumbly towards the end if you keep kneading it with the flour.

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes.  Let cool completely before decorating.


I melt a handful of white chocolate buds and use it in a piping bag with a small, plain nib and swirl patterns across each cookie.

If that seems like too much then dusting with icing sugar works beautifully too.

Note:  If you want to make vanilla star cookies just substitute flour with the cocoa.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Orange poppy seed roasted vegetable salad

This is my special occasion roast veggie salad and it comes from my Family Circle Fabulous Salads book. I make it for Christmas or big family get togethers. This one I made for my church's Relief Society Christmas dinner and it didn't last very long before it was all gone. It can be served straight from the oven or as a warm salad a few hours out of the oven. Just don't put the Brie on top until you're ready to serve. It is just a beautiful salad for any time of the year.

Orange Poppy Seed Roasted Vegetable Salad

6 small potatoes quartered (I don't even peel them)
(hint: chop all of the veggies about the same size, but not too big)
2 parsnips peeled and chopped in chunks
1/2 of a large orange sweet potato chopped
1/4 jap pumpkin chopped
2 carrots peeled and chopped
4 small brown onions quartered
3 cloves of garlic peeled and halved
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
200g triple cream Brie thinly sliced

Orange dressing

1/2 cup orange juice
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Preheat oven 200°C/400°F. Place all of the chopped veggies and garlic in a bowl toss in oil, salt and then spread over a large lined baking tray.

I used two trays to spread the veggies over. Bake in oven for 50 mins to an hour. Check after the first 20 mins, toss then sprinkle with poppy seeds and put back in the oven for another 20 mins and check again after that and give another toss to bake evenly.

To make the dressing whisk the ingredients in a small jug or jar to combine.

When veggies are done transfer to a large bowl, pour the dressing over the warm veggies and toss to coat, you may not need all of the dressing. Be gentle or the veggies will squish.

Then top with the slices of Brie. Watch the Brie melt ever so slowly over the veggies and then serve and enjoy!!