Love cakes and baking? Me too!

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Sunday, 5 January 2014

Bakin' with berries (cont.) and an aside

White Chocolate & Cranberry cookies:
So today is the 11th day of Christmas. I can scarcely believe how quickly the season has passed this year. Or that it's nearly time to take down all the decorations (apparently it is bad luck to have Christmas decorations up beyond 12th night...)

In attempt to squeeze as much Christmas as possible out of the remaining days of my holiday, I decided to do a final bit of festive baking this weekend. Below are a selection of the white chocolate and cranberry cookies that I made using the Hummingbird Bakery recipe that can be found in the Christmas section of the "Cake Days" iPhone app.

They taste really good (even if I do say so myself) with a squidgy, chewy consistency - just as cookies should be. You can detect just a hint of cinnamon when you taste them which, together with the cranberries, gives them they're Christmass-y flavour. I think that, if you packaged them up nicely in a kilner jar with some nice red and white gingham ribbon (or similar), these cookies would make great Christmas gifts. I'll have to bear that in mind for next year. They were very easy to throw together, so you get a lot of reward for not too much effort. That's always good in my book.

Speaking of books, I'm not wholly convinced about using baking apps. Call me old-fashioned, but I definitely prefer to follow a recipe from a book. The problem with using an iPhone/tablet is that it goes into snooze mode between each step, so you end up having to unlock the keypad every few minutes with increasingly buttery/sugary/dough-y fingers. You're also guaranteed to get your device covered in a film of flour/sugar as you weigh out your dry ingredients. Oh well. As you've gathered, I was still pleased with the final outcome, so I'll not grumble too much.

I'd learnt from last week's cranberry biscuit baking experience to always ensure that each unit of batter is as similar in shape and size to its neighbour, and to allow each unit of dough plenty of room to spread. This was useful knowledge, and I reaped the rewards (and felt quite smug) when the cookies came out as uniformly as they did. From yesterday's cookie baking, I also learnt that, if you roll the cookie dough in your hands to create a glossy, smooth ball of dough before baking, you get a better outcome than heaping an untidy mound of rough-edged batter onto your baking sheet.

11 Pipers Piping (on golden flutes):
Ok. Quite a tenuous link with my opening about it being the 11th day of Christmas, but go with it... Although this isn't a berry bake, a fairy cake or, indeed, any kind of foodie confection, I wanted to share it with you as it was a wonderful Christmas discovery for me and, if, like me you're a bit of a sweet-toothed magpie,  it might be something that you'd enjoy too. The discovery in question is Smirnoff Gold - a vodka infused with cinnamon, with 23 carat gold leaf flakes in suspension - how very Christmassy (and how very beautiful), eh?

I first glimpsed this novelty liqueur in the alcohol aisle of my local supermarket whilst buying boozy presents for family this holiday, and I was immediately intrigued and captivated. The perceived decadence of sipping an alcoholic drink containing flecks of pure gold was immediately appealing to me, so I eagerly researched cocktail recipes which feature this product. As the product is, I believe, relatively new on the market, there aren't a great deal of recipes out there yet. The "Apple Bite Gold" (a long drink containing Smirnoff Gold, apple juice and lemonade, and advertised in this rather gruesome advert: is the most common one you'll come across. I've not yet tried this, but I can whole-heartedly recommend an alternative, called the "Golden flute" to you. I first sampled it on New Year's eve. It's as easy as pie to put together: one part Smirnoff gold to two parts sparkling apple juice (Appletiser) served chilled in a champagne flute. You must, I think, take a moment to watch the gold sparkles dance in the fizz - a mesmerising effect,  before quaffing. It's a multi-sensory experience. In terms of taste, this simple little cocktail slips down *very* easily with the cinnamon flavour slightly off-setting the potentially cloying sweetness of the apple juice. On a different note, the pretty design of the Appletiser bottle (by Eliza Doolittle, of all people) caught my eye - I'm always a sucker for pretty packaging so my new year Golden Flute really was a visual feast.

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