Festive!

Gingerbread Biscuits

 an updated recipe

it's nearly been a year since this space here on ALA was updated and that's for a few reasons. firstly, and most obviously, i have been highly preoccupied with finishing my final year of high school and prepping for the exams which will let me into uni courses in 2018. secondly, in the time that may have been spare for recipe making, shooting and editing, i found myself at music rehearsals, at a much needed yoga class or dealing with some of the curveballs the universe has thrown at my life recently. 

during this period of waiting for my final results and score, i knew that it was time to return to this corner of the internet and to my long afternoons in the kitchen (even if the only person reading this is my mum) (hi mum!). so, here's a little update and recipe to get me back into gear!

if you've been around here for a while you'll know that christmas is my favourite time of year for food, and it will forever disappoint me that it is miles too hot in australia for warm comfort food in december and a racially-sensitive white christmas. nevertheless the universal nature of chrissy baking means that whilst my winter coats are away, the cinnamon and ginger can come out to play. 

this is an updated recipe, since during my time *off* from blogging there was a moment of discovery late last week in which i found this recipe tucked away in a stephanie alexander cookbook. oh stephy, you remind me that not all heroes wear capes. #aussielegend

these biscuits are spicy and crunchy and have just the right structural integrity to maintain their form when dunked into a cup of tea. mine were decorated with royal icing and coconut, but you could make a house, a family or a squad of superheroes with yours. the options are endless, so decorate your little heart out. go on, it's christmas. 

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notes: this recipe isn't mine (as mentioned above) yet some adaptations have been made to the original. because i posses the coordination and grace of a baby giraffe when it comes to most things, my shapes were small and my gingerbread on the thicker side for easy handling. personally, thicker gingerbread is my preference, however if thinner is your cup of tea, reduce the cooking time by 5-7 minutes 


gingerbread biscuits 

makes about 24 biscuits

ingredients

for the gingerbread cookies

85g unsalted vegan butter

90g brown sugar

1/4 c golden syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg yolk 

235g self-raising flour (plus extra to dust board)

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

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for the royal icing

2 egg whites 

1 c pure icing sugar 

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desiccated coconut (for decoration, optional)

method

to make the gingerbread cookies

in the bowl of a stand mixer slowly combine the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and golden syrup on low speed until a consistent colour is developed. increase the speed and beat until pale and creamy (~3 minutes).

add the egg yolk and beat high until the mixture increases in size and pales. 

meanwhile, in a large bowl gently combine the flour, salt and spices. with the beater on the lowest speed, add about 1/4 cup of the flour at a time, before increasing the speed to bind the dough together. it should be still quite wet and squidgy. 

roll the dough into a thick sausage about 20 cm long and wrap it in two layers of cling wrap. leave the dough in the freezer for three hours or until firm and cold (if you are making it multiple days in advance, let the dough freeze completely or chill in the fridge overnight for next-day use).

preheat the oven to 180C and line 2 trays with baking paper. 

dust a rolling pin and a clean dry surface with flour and roll out the chilled dough into a rectangle about 5mm thick. cut the dough into shapes and bake on the prepared trays in the oven for about 12-15 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. re-roll any remaining scraps into a rectangle and cut more biscuits. if at any time during re-rolling remaining dough to cut more shapes the dough becomes warm from the heat of your hands, return it to the freezer until chilled once more. 

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to make the royal icing

while the biscuits are cooling, beat the egg whites and icing sugar on high, using a whisk attachment until stiff peaks are formed. transfer the icing to a piping bag with a small round nozzle and, once the cakes are cooled, pipe away! sprinkle some desiccated coconut on top for a wintery-snow vibe! 

make sure to wait until the icing is properly set hard before storing the biscuits in an airtight container. 

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Cranberry & Orange Punch

hey! how's the christmas prep going??? have you started???? have you already finished??? at this time of year melbourne goes a little nuts, and i think it's down to the madness of the holiday season. shopping centres quickly become more like overpacked psychiatric wards, as shoppers walk around with glazed looks in their eyes, full trolleys and dazed and confused expressions. the roads are overly busy as people try and achieve this and hat before the christmas break that really lasts until late january, and last week i saw two women literally fighting over the last turkey frozen roll in the supermarket whilst selecting my mangoes. 

thank the lordy lord for online shopping. 

it's been package central around here lately, with christmas gifts arriving at our door left right and centre. but it's always the awkward game of can i look!??!?!?!?!, because there's nothing worse than ruining your own christmas surprise. so to account for the ambiguity of delivery times, we've sort of resorted to hiding boxes behind our backs as we shuffle down the hallways. at least that's my plan for hiding the parcels anyway.   

but, despite all the christmas madness, the packed car parks and the supermarket sass, it's always worth it. because when you unpack the shopping you get to wrap presents, put them under the tree, plan christmas dinner and decorate your house with lights, christmas trees and decorations. so whilst the most wonderful time of the year makes people slightly insane, i suppose they don't call it the most wonderful time of the year for nothing. 

notes: this morning i brunched with belle and we chitchatted our little hearts away over coffee, smashed avocado and sourdough toast. brunch is by far my favourite meal of the day. why? because it doesn't discriminate against breakfast foods no lunch foods and chances are if you argued your case well, you can pretty much eat anything you want. brunch is simple, brunch is easy, and it is always a good way to catch up with friends. because who says no to brunch???? belle doesn't drink coffee though so i thought something like this would be a great brunchy drink. this drink is so easy and quick i feel like a cop-out turning it into a full blown blog post. but, to be perfectly honest, it's a really festive substitution for alcoholic cocktails or mulled wine and ideal for party situations because of it's few ingredients. it's delicious and fizzy and i think it's simply yummy! 


Cranberry & Orange punch 

{serves two}

ingredients

juice of one orange (approx 100 mls)

200 ml carbonated water, chilled 

160 ml cranberry juice

mint leaves, fresh

ice, to serve 

method

combine the orange juice and carbonated water in a jug. mix the cranberry juice in. split the drink mix between two glasses. top with ice and some fresh mint leaves* and serve. 

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*to enhance the mint flavour in the drink, smoosh the leaves with your straw or a cocktail muddler at the bottom of your drink. 


- jess x

Chocolate Bauble Cupcakes

hello! today i've a recipe for some awesome chocolate cupcakes that i've been using for years, but never actually got around to sharing on ALA. they're super moist, light and extra chocolaty! topped with my fool-proof classic buttercream, it's a match made in heaven - especially for the festive season! i've decorated these as little green baubles (ish?) to celebrate the decorating and setting up of my christmas tree!! yay!! 

after starting the week with sweltering temperatures, melbourne is officially having a temper tantrum. one minute we're freezing cold, and the next minute we're waaaaay too warm. it's more indecisive than me in a ceramics store. but where is are my warm summer nights? where the crisp mornings fading into sunny afternoons??? if i'm going to live in a climate that's not going to give me white christmases, i at least want a solid summer to preempt the holiday season. where's the solid summer??

i've officially been on holidays for two weeks now and my days have been filled with baking, writing, watching gilmore girls on marathon (i'm halfway through season three!) and wrapping christmas presents. here's a checklist of all the people i've got gifts for mum βœ”οΈ dad βœ”οΈ tom βœ”οΈcards for friends βœ”οΈ , but i still need to figure out what to get for more extended family members that isn't a christmas decoration or chocolate, because i think i've used those too many times. 

anyway, after taking a couple of days off #littlealiceblogmas i'm back with cupcakes! stay tuned for tomorrow's recipe, where we're back to regular programming :D 


chocolate cupcakes

{makes 12}

ingredients

1 1/3 c + 2 tbsp plain flour

 1 tsp bicarb soda

 1/3 c cacao powder

 1 c caster sugar

 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

 2 eggs

 130g vegan butter, melted, cooled

 1 tsp vanilla extract

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for the buttercream

220g vegan butter

530g icing sugar, sifted

1 tsp vanilla extract

yellow, blue and red food colouring optional

method

preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a muffin tray with cupcake cases. 

in the bowl of an electric mixer, sift the flour, bicarb soda and cacao powder together. whisk through the caster sugar. 

in a medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk, eggs, vegan butter and vanilla. make a well in the dry mix and pour in the wet mix. on a low setting beat the mixture, turning the setting to high once all the dry mix has been incorporated. mix on high for 5 minutes or until pale and creamy. 

divide the batter between the cupcake cases and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 

leave the cupcakes to cool, before frosting them with the buttercream. store at room temperature in a sealed container. 

to make the buttercream

cream the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. add the vanilla and beat for another 4 minutes on high. divide the frosting into smaller bowls and colour them as desired. chill the frosting in the fridge for 20 minutes before icing the cakes.