Slow cooker mulled wine
The gentle, even heat from a slow cooker means the wine doesn’t boil and the flavours stay fresh, leave it to heat while you eat, drink and be merry!
PREP 5 mins
COOK 1 hr, 30 mins to 2 hrs
2 x 750ml bottles red wine
peeled zest and juice of 2 large oranges
pared zest of 1 lemon
120g golden caster sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
slices of orange
Put all the ingredients (except the slices of orange) in a slow cooker on low for 1 1/2 – 2hrs until hot. Ladle into heatproof glasses and serve with slices of orange.
Candy cane lollipops are easy for kids to make
Candy cane lollipops
These pretty sweet treats take just 15 minutes to make from just three ingredients – perfect as a last-minute edible gift or stocking filler
PREP 10 mins
COOK 5 mins
12 peppermint candy canes
200g white chocolate, chopped
edible sprinkles (we used gold pearls from Dr Oetker)
6 ovenproof lolly sticks
cellophane bags and ribbons (if giving as a gift)
1 Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment. Arrange the candy canes in pairs on the trays, to make heart shapes. Put a lolly stick between each one, where they meet at the bottom. Put the trays in the oven and cook for 5 mins.
2 The candy canes should now be soft enough for you to carefully pinch together where they join at the top and the bottom, around the stick. Be careful as the canes will be extremely hot, but work quickly or they will set and you won’t be able to pinch them together.
3 Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, or in the microwave. Spoon the melted chocolate into the middle of the heart lollies, pushing it out to fill the spaces. Scatter over your choice of sprinkles, then leave to cool completely. When set, peel off the baking parchment, wrap in cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon to give as a gift.
Gingerbread syrup adds a festive twist to warming hot chocolate or coffee
This easy-to-make syrup makes the perfect addition to a festive cup of coffee.
PREP 5 mins
COOK 5 mins
300g golden caster sugar
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
edible gold glitter (optional)
1 cinnamon stick
1 Put the golden caster sugar, 200ml water and ground ginger into a saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for 5 mins until the sugar has dissolved, then stir in a little edible gold glitter, if you like. Pour into a 500ml sterilised bottle.
2 To decorate, tie a cinnamon stick around the neck with a pretty ribbon, if you like. Will keep for up to one year.
Custard adds a fun addition to festive mince pies
Custard and crumble mince pies
A twist on a festive favourite, adding a layer of creamy custard and a delectable crumbly topping makes an irresistible and more mellow mince pie
125g unsalted butter, cold from the fridge
185g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
3 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 large egg
120g pot custard
1 Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put a baking sheet in the oven on the middle shelf.
2 Cut the butter into small cubes. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt.
3 Tip the butter into the flour and use your fingers to rub the two together until it resembles breadcrumbs.
4 Stir in 2 tbsp of the sugar. Scoop a heaped half cup (85g) of the crumbs into a smaller bowl and set aside.
5 Have two small bowls ready. Crack the egg on the side of one bowl, then carefully pull the shell apart in two halves, letting the yolk nestle into one side. Let the white drain away from the yolk into one bowl and put the yolk into the other bowl.
6 Beat the egg yolk with a fork, then add it to the bigger bowl of butter and flour mix. Use a cutlery knife to stir the yolk into the crumbs.
7 Put your hand in the bowl and squeeze the crumbs together to make a ball. Knead the pastry a few times until smooth.
8 Sprinkle some flour over your work surface. Sprinkle a little more over the pastry and roll it out to the thickness of two £1 coins.
9 Stamp the pastry with an 8cm cutter, re-rolling the trimmings to make 12 rounds.
10 Gently push the rounds of pastry into the bun tin. Spoon 1 heaped tsp of the custard into each pastry case, followed by the mincemeat on top.
11 Add the final 1 tbsp sugar to the smaller bowl of crumb mix. Pinch it together to make bigger clumps and mound it on top of the mincemeat.
12 Slide the bun tin on top of the baking sheet and bake for 15 mins until golden brown and the custard and mincemeat are starting to bubble.
13 Cool in the tin for 15 mins, then carefully lift the pies onto a rack and leave to cool. Will keep for 2 days in an airtight tin.
Images and recipes courtesy of BBC Good Food.
Main image: Getty.