It's been all Christmassy and we have had a good layer of white stuff fall...
I didn't think to take a pic until the thaw had really began and I didn't feel like venturing to the deeper snow to get a really good one today... its so cold outside! Instead there's the garden and all the footprints of the birds, squirrels and my little dog, who has been having a marvellous time decorating his ears with snowballs. As it hasn't been safe for me to take my tiny car out, I have been hidden away. Which isn't too bad as I finished my gifts as the snow came and all my parcels are sent so I can do some homely Xmas things...
...like decorate the fireplace while watching movies and fill the house with Christmas cooking. Once I post this I'm making snowy cupcakes, white chocolate and coconut with little deer on the top , and later I'm going to try to make marshmallows! I love marshmallows with hot chocolate and I've heard homemade ones are the best so I had to see for myself. I'll probably drink hot chocolate while nibbling on these little mince pie puffs I make every year.
They are much lighter than mince pies, almost bitesize... two or three bites at the most and so easy to make. I first made them years ago when I wanted to bake mince pies but didn't have the proper ingredients and was feeling too lazy to go to the shop to get them so I used what was to hand with happen to be ready roll puff pastry and mixed dried fruit. I've tweaked it and now I make them like this:
In a bowl I place all the dried fruit I have about. Whatever you like really... this year it was a bag of raisins, a packet of dried cranberries, a tub of mixed peel and some chopped glace cherries... I love putting red and yellow fruits in as it makes it looks festive. I put in a couple of good big tablespoons of sugar and a couple of teaspoons of mixed Xmas spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc) to just coat all the fruit before half a cup of orange juice and a good swig of brandy. I leave the fruit to soak up all the juice and just keep added juice, brandy or spice if I think it needs it. Once the fruit is plump and juicy with a tiny bit of syrup at the bottom of the bowl and it smells like Xmas, its ready.
I then take a packet of puff pastry and roll it out (I do it in two halves rather than the whole pack) Cut into smallish squares and make tiny slits like in the pic to make a lattice pattern. I can make 16 from half a packet.
In the centre of each square, I put a heaped teaspoon of the fruit and then bring the corners of the pastry together and squeeze to close into a parcel. Place cut side up on a baking tray and brush with egg and sprinkle with sugar before baking in a hot oven for 10-15 mins until the pastry is cooked.
Eat at least two before calling others to say they are ready :)
I'm sure this isn't my idea but I've never used a recipe for it so I thought I'd share. I can't really tell you about any of the other things I've been making as they are all presents (and need to be secret for a little while longer) and I just love to share! Thank you so much for all the lovely comments about the Sweet Snowman tags. I had the sweetest message from Meninheira saying she had made them into this sweet garland and I hope everyone else is enjoying them too!