Michelle Darmody makes treats for the Christmas table

Michelle Darmody makes treats for the Christmas table

The recipes here can be made to give as last-minute gifts or simply made as treats for your own Christmas table.

Cranberries match quite well with white chocolate, not only does the colour combination look festive, the tart bitterness of the cranberry helps to downplay the sweetness of the white chocolate. Dried cranberries are used in the recipe but at this time of year I usually buy a bag or two of fresh ones as well and make a batch of cranberry sauce or a fresh cranberry salsa to accompany the main event.

The cookie dough will keep in the fridge for up to a week so you can slice a few cookies off and bake them just before you eat them. This recipe makes about 18 generously-sized cookies, if this is too many you can freeze some of the dough for another day.

Again, the tartness of marmalade works in a similar manner to the cranberries by offsetting the rich buttery almond filling in the bakewell tart. If the marmalade is not to your liking, you can use another type of jam or preserve instead.

The fudge takes a little time to make and you will need a sugar thermometer. It is very rich and buttery. I tend to cut it into really small pieces.

White chocolateand cranberry cookies

Michelle Darmody makes treats for the Christmas table

  • 230g of golden caster sugar
  • 250g of soft butter
  • 90g of brown sugar
  • 150g of self-raising flour
  • 225g of porridge oats
  • 200g of dried cranberries
  • 50g of white chocolate chips and 150g extra for topping

Heat your oven to 180C and line two flat baking trays with parchment.

Beat both sugars with the butter until fluffy. Mix in the flour and oats and combine well. Add the cranberries and the 50g of chocolate chips and mix again.

Roll into logs and refrigerate. They can be easily sliced with a warm knife to the size you want, I generally make about 18 cookies.

Place the sliced discs onto the prepared trays and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until they are turning golden.

Cool on a wire rack.

Melt the remaining white chocolate over a dish of boiling water. Spoon it over the cooled cookies and allow to harden.

Mini-marmalade bakewells

    Pastry
  • 225g flour
  • 140g cold butter, cubed
  • 50g of golden caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Filling
  • 100g of soft butter
  • 90g of golden caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 100g of ground almonds
  • Zest of 4 oranges
  • 10g of plain flour
  • 3tbsp of thick cut marmalade
  • 25g of flaked almonds

To make the pastry rub the butter into the flour until it resembles rough breadcrumbs.

Stir the sugar into the egg, mix it lightly until the sugar begins to dissolve. Add this to the flour mixture and bring them together until completely combined.

Wrap the dough in baking parchment and place into the fridge to cool completely. It will take at least an hour.

Grease and flour a 12-hole bun tin.

Roll your pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut out 12 small discs that will sit well in our bun tin. Place the circles into the tin and chill in the fridge while you make the filling.

Heat your oven to 180C.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the egg, ground almonds, zest and flour and slowly beat until combined.

Divide the marmalade between the chilled pastry cases and scoop the filling over it.

Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

Bake for about 18 minutes until golden on top. Allow to cool in the tin until you can comfortably handle the buns then place onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Butter fudge squares

Michelle Darmody makes treats for the Christmas table

  • 100g of soft butter
  • 300 mls of milk
  • 350g of caster sugar
  • A pinch of ground sea salt
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence

Line a 7in-square cake tin with parchment and set aside.

Add the butter, milk and sugar to a large, heavy-based saucepan. Place over a low heat until the butter and sugar have melted. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil, stirring as you do.

I use a heat-proof rubber spatula as it gets all of the mixture from the bottom of the saucepan. Allow to boil for about 15 minutes until it rises up to about twice the size. Take it off the heat and continue stirring until it subsides.

Place it back on the heat and with your thermometer check it until it reaches 115C, which is known as the soft ball stage.

Stir in the sea salt and vanilla.

Take the saucepan off the heat and beat until it thickens and becomes matt rather than shiny. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and allow to cool.

Cut into small cubes.

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