Bake some Christmas nibbles with Michelle Darmody

This week Michelle Darmody shows you how to make some bite-sized nibble for the Christmas season, including brownies, sausage roll bites and stollen buns.

In our house, Christmas Eve is spent putting the finishing touches to trays of mince pies, boiling the ham, and rolling lines of sausage rolls, for those in between snacks that people warn you against at all other times of the year. These days tend to involve endless snacking and nibbling on all of the Christmas goodies that we have stocked up on in previous days.

Every year, to my mother’s consternation, the ham gets devoured by someone arriving home late on the eve of Christmas and I have to patch it up with extra glaze.

Brownies are a relatively low commitment if you are deciding to bake during the holidays. They are something that children can help to make, you do not need to whip and whisk to get air into the recipe and you do not need a mixer of any kind, a wooden spoon and large bowl will do.

I have always enjoyed stollen loafs, they are a bready alternative to a Christmas pudding or mince pie.

The recipe here is for stollen buns rather than the more typical larger loaf, they can also be made in smaller bite size pieces that work well for sweet Christmas canapés.

Sausage roll bites

Bake some Christmas nibbles with Michelle Darmody

Ingredients:

  • 400g of good sausages or sausage meat
  • 1 tbs of tomato puree
  • 1 small bunch of sage, finely chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 500g of puff pastry, slightly de frosted

Method

Take the sausage meat from the sausages and place in a bowl. Add the tomato puree, sage and lemon zest and season with some black pepper. The meat is probably salty enough as it is. Mix well together. Lay the first of your pastry sheets on a work surface and scoop a line of the meat along one side. Roll the pastry up and with a fork and push the edges down so the join is smooth. Cut the long sausage into two inch sections.

Repeat this until all of your meat and pastry are used up. Place the seam of each sausage roll to the bottom and cut small slits in the top of the pastry.

If you wish to put a glaze on the rolls mix an egg with a dash of milk and using a pastry brush cover the top of each roll.

Place on a greased baking tray again with the seam facing down. Bake for about 20 minutes in a hot oven until the meat is cooked through.

Jeweled brownies

Bake some Christmas nibbles with Michelle Darmody

Ingredients:

  • 250g of butter
  • 250g of dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 4 eggs
  • 325g of caster sugar
  • 150g of plain flour
  • 150g of dried cranberries
  • a handful of silver almonds, chopped
  • seeds from ½ a pomegranate

Method

I get the silver almonds from a local Italian shop, they are used as wedding favours in Italy, they are handy for decorating cakes at Christmas time.

Heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Melt the butter and chocolate together. Beat together the sugar, eggs and flour and stir in the cranberries.

Mix the two mixtures and pour into a lined 9-inch square tin.

Bake for about 25 minutes. Allow to cool in the tin and then cut them to size. Sprinkle with slivered chopped nuts and pomegranate seeds.

Stollen buns

Bake some Christmas nibbles with Michelle Darmody

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbs of brandy
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • zest of a lemon
  • 80g of dried cranberries
  • 80g of golden raisins
  • 40g of chopped dates
  • 550g of strong flour
  • 85g of caster sugar
  • 14g of fast action yeast
  • 1 tsp of powdered cinnamon
  • 85g of butter, cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 250 mls of warm milk
  • 200g of marzipan, chopped into small cubes

Method

Pour the brandy over the dates, raisins and cranberries and zest. Allow to soak until the fruit has puffed up.

Mix the flour, caster sugar, yeast and caster sugar together. Rub in the butter until it looks like rough breadcrumbs.

Mix the egg and warm milk.

Pour it into the flour mixture and combine together until a dough is formed. It will be quite sticky. Turn it out on to a floured surface and knead for five minutes. Place into a large oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Allow to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment.

Roll the dough into a long flat rectangle. Sprinkle the marzipan and fruit over the dough. Roll it into a log and slice it into 10 or 12 pieces. Place then onto the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

You can decorate with a drizzle of icing or a sprinkling of icing sugar.


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