I cannot quite believe it has been over two months since Christmas (although the weather certainly still feels frosty today!) but I still am yet to blog about the many hours I enjoyed in the kitchen making tasty treats!!! Last Christmas, in order to do something a little different and a little more personal, I filled some beautiful hampers chock full of yummy delicacies for friends and family to enjoy.
The hampers we purchased came from the awesome Northampton shop, St Giles Cheese. St Giles stock a range of hamper sizes all year round which can either be filled with goods from the shop or purchased to take home and fill yourself. I can thoroughly recommend their selection as they have help me chose some awesome cheeses on many occasion!
I filled the hampers with a range of treats from mulled wine kits to Christmas rocky road, Yankee candles to cranberry, almond and chocolate biscotti, Christmas tea and tiger butter. I must admit, I really enjoyed researching the recipes to include and playing about with different forms of packaging and flavour combinations. Extra time in the kitchen is always a bonus for me; I only hope the recipients enjoyed the hampers as much as I enjoyed putting them together!
One of my favourite bakes, which I added to the hampers as a bit of an after thought after seeing the recipe on twitter, was Nigella Lawson’s ‘Parmesan Shortbread’.
Nigella’s Parmesan Shortbread
Makes 35 – 40
150g plain flour
75g parmesan, grated
100g unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg yolk
1. Mix all ingredients together, using a spoon or even your hands, until a golden dough begins to form in a clump.
2. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 30 seconds until smooth, then divide into two.
3. Take the first half and, using your hands, roll into a cylinder as uniform as possible, to about 3cm in diameter, ensuring that you flatten each end. The cylinder should resemble a roll of coins. Roll the cylinder in a piece of clingfilm, twisting at both ends like a Christmas cracker. Put the roll in the fridge and repeat with the other half of dough.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees while the dough rests in the fridge for 45 minutes. Prepare a baking sheet with baking parchment.
5. Slice each roll of dough into pieces, aim for about 1cm thick.
6. Arrange the shortbread rounds onto the baking sheet. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until just beginning to turn golden. Leave to cool.
Oh.My.Word! These bad boys are AMAZING!!! If you are a savoury fiend, these are a must. They crumble perfectly whilst melting in your mouth promising pools of cheesy deliciousness. The thing I also really love about Nigella’s recipes are that they are so quick and simple; you do not need to be a baking genius to follow them and get great results! The uncooked dough also lasts really well in the fridge so you can easily whack them in the oven if you have some unexpected visitors, I promise they will go down a treat! My mouth is watering by simply writing about this recipe!
A quick note, I know I am usually an advocate for margarine, such as Stork, as it is such a winner for arthritic hands but shortbread really does call for the original, full-fat variety; you simply must use a good quality butter!
The caramelised red onion chutney which I made also complemented the shortbread well with these simple savoury treats. The only problem is, they will both disappear way too quickly….!
Remember, you don’t need to wait for Christmas to whip up some delicious nibbles for a hamper, any occasion will do!