This post originally featured in the Wells Journal on Thursday 12 December 2013.
This can be a very expensive time of year. Like most people I am looking for ways to stretch my budget that little bit further. But I have been thinking a lot about why we put so much pressure on ourselves each year to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas. Why does perfect need to equate to expensive?
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has been vocal on this subject recently. Whether or not you’re religious, there is a lot of sense in his comments and we should heed his reminder that being generous at Christmas should be in a way that demonstrates our love and affection, rather than by trying to buy that love and affection.
So this year, please don’t break the bank simply to let people know what they mean to you. In my eyes, a homemade gift, particularly if it is something you can eat, is so much more special and meaningful than a hastily bought piece of tat.
These simple cookies are a perfect Christmas present. They are easy to make and beautifully festive, featuring that tried and tested combination of cranberries and white chocolate. While cardamom might make you think of Asian cookery, it is also very popular in Norwegian baking and so the Scandinavian theme I started last week with my baked ham and Finnish mustard continues…
White chocolate, cardamom and cranberry cookies
100g soft butter
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
150g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g ground almonds
2 tsp ground cardamom (or 1 tsp cardamom seeds crushed in a pestle and mortar)
125g dried cranberries
125g white chocolate chopped
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg and beat again, before mixing in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground almonds and cardamom.
When the dough is smooth and thick, stir in the cranberries and chocolate.
Roll pieces of the dough into walnut-sized balls and place onto baking trays lined with baking parchment. Make sure they are well spaced out.
Bake for around 10 minutes until they are a pale golden colour.
Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
As these cookies are super easy to make, they’re ideal for baking with children to give as gifts at Christmas, I’m entering them into December’s Family Foodies challenge at Eat Your Veg, where the theme is Kids Christmas.
December’s theme at Tea Time Treats is Festive Gifts and Treats, so I’ve got to enter these cookies there too. This is Kate from What Kate Baked‘s last month hosting this brilliant challenge, and Karen from Lavender & Lovage will be announcing her new co-host in the new year.
Deena Kakaya is running a new challenge called Fabulous Fusion Foods and so I thought these cookies might make a good entry, as they bring together a spice I associate with Asia, cardamom, with white chocolate and cranberries, which I connect with a very Western Christmas.
And finally, I’m entering these cookies into the AlphaBakes challenge hosted by The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, where the theme for December is the letter X – perfect for all things Xmas…