Dress to Impress
BAISERRINGE (Meringue Rings) Baiserringe are a traditional German tree decoration, but should adorn all the best Fife Christmas trees too. They are really simple to make, taste delicious and look fantastically festive, particularly when tied with a red ribbon. Feel free to add some sprinkles of glitter if you wish. Some good advice is to make a double batch as they mysteriously disappear before Santa and his little helpers arrive. Makes 30 Preparation time: 20 minutes Baking time: 2 hours These will keep well for about 4 weeks.
INGREDIENTS 3 egg whites Pinch of salt 3/4 cup sugar
METHOD Preheat the oven to 110째C/225째F/Gas 1/4. Line baking trays with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix the egg whites and salt at high speed until stiff. Add the sugar a little a time, continuing to mix until shiny. Fill a decorating bag fitted with a wide tip (or a plastic bag with one corner cut off) with the egg white, and pipe rings (around 2 inches in diameter) directly onto the baking tray. If you choose to use sprinkles, decorate the Baiserringe before baking them. Bake them for 2 hours with the oven door slightly ajar. Carefully peel the rings off of the parchment paper and allow to cool. Once cooled, tie ribbon around and place on tree.
ROSEMARY AND TOASTED CARAWAY SHORTBBREAD Shortbread is a classic Scottish recipe that whilst delicious in its traditional form is ripe for innovation and new flavours, such as this savoury twist. Aside from the delicious flavour, the beauty of this recipe is that it can be made ahead of time and frozen in batches. Shortbread keeps for around a week or so and it is also great to whip up two batches, use one and freeze one. Perfect for gifts, teatime treats or to adorn the Christmas tree, the other batch is ready to bake in time for first footing in the New Year.
INGREDIENTS 1 tsp caraway seeds 1cup/ 225g butter ½ cup/100g granulated sugar ½ tsp salt 2 ½/cups/ 300g self raising flour 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped plus whole sprigs 1 large egg, beaten caster sugar for sprinkling
METHOD Toast the caraway seeds in a dry pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, giving a gentle shake occasionally until fragrant - around 2 minutes. Chop finely and set aside. Heat your oven to 180ºC/ Gas 4. Beat together the butter, sugar and salt until creamy, light and fluffy. If using an electric mixer/beater this will take around 7 minutes. It really is worth the extra effort to whip lots of air into the mixture, this makes for a tender shortbread. Next add the flour, chopped rosemary, caraway seeds and gently mix together on a slow speed, until just combined. The dough may look a little dry- trust me it’s not! Shortbread prefers a cold, light touch, so the less handling at this stage the better. Either place into two round 8inch tins, or cut into your desired shape with cookie cutters and place on greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Brush with the egg and sprinkle over the whole rosemary leaves and some sugar. Bake in the oven until golden brown - around 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and if you are hanging your shapes on the tree use a straw to poke holes in the biscuits and cool on a wire rack. If you have baked your shortbread whole, once cool you can cut into petticoats or slices. Your baked shortbread will last a week if wrapped and stored in an air tight container.
DRIED FRUITS DECORATIONS These are a fantastic alternative to tinsel or simply as hanging aromatic, stained glass decorations to adorn you tree. Any that are not eaten over the festive period can be coated in peanut butter or seeds for a festive treat for the birds. Whilst they are simply stunning as they are, if you wish to add some glue and glitter feel free, just remember this makes them inedible! Lemons Oranges Apples Fresh herbs such as bay leaves Spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon A sprinkle of sugar for apples Cut your fruit into ¼ inch thick pieces and place on a baking sheet. For the apples dust with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar and, if you wish to, add cloves or star anise to your citrus pieces. Place them in a very low oven (110ºC/ Gas ¼/ 225ºF). Lemons are ready after half an hour, whilst oranges take around an hour and a half and apples: no longer than 2 hours. During the cooking process it is helpful to turn over the slices of fruit every now and then.