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Video: Nigella’s tasty Christmas treats

  1. Closed captioning of: Nigella’s tasty Christmas treats

    >>> the reindeer all their hay, who wraps the gifts and packs the sleigh *

    >>> this morning on "today's holiday kitchen," decorations that you can eat. angela lawson is here with a few recipes from her latest cookbook

    nigella christmas: food, family, friends, festivities." good to have you back.

    >> it's always nice to be here.

    >> we're going to do a little cooking in a second, but i like what i was reading, that these recipes and decorations are a symbol and signal to your family, especially your kids, that the holiday season has begun.

    >> completely. and you know, i started when they were little , and you know, so i've made this recipe that to be honest is to be incredibly forgiving, because when kids do it, they have no respect for dough, so they drop it on the ground, they pick it up again, they roll it.

    >> so you can't mess this up.

    >> you can't, but in a way you can't make everything look store-bought, because it's homemade.

    >> you love the holidays, love traditions. your kids are now like 16, 13, 15, in that area.

    >> yes.

    >> do they still like to participate in this or are they over it?

    >> they like to pretend they're doing it to humor me, but really, i think they would say, but why, you know, what happened to the christmas tree decorations?

    >> if it weren't there.

    >> so, they need it. they need ritual and they need to feel, especially as they get older and their lives actually are lived outside the home with their friends, they need to feel that there is a family unit.

    >> and the connection.

    >> and you do the same thing each year.

    >> all right. so, we're going to make decorations that you can eat, and we start with this.

    >> so, that's just flour.

    >> okay.

    >> and then some butter.

    >> by the way, you can make the dough portion of this ahead of time? can you?

    >> oh, really, you can, and you can freeze it as well. i mean -- some brown sugar . you'll see that the dough here has sort of a dark tinge to it. these are a bit like ginger bread biscuits like you get in germany. baking powder.

    >> here's where it gets a little unusual.

    >> because you said, you can eat -- i don't want my kids to eat them all off the tree. cinnamon they like, that's okay. cloves, if it's little bit, they'll deal with. black pepper --

    >> why, why black pepper ?

    >> because i'm a cruel and sadistic mother --

    >> do you do that to keep them away from it?

    >> yes. yes. otherwise, they'll all be eaten. when they were little , i was worried they'd pull the tree down. so, as long as they learn --

    >> why don't you just put an electric fence up or something like that?

    >> you know, that is good!

    >> so, we're going to mix this all together. and you have to put the egg in in.

    >> i am. i have to make sure this will go through. yep. so, this is some egg and honey, and that gives it really an almost like a medieval taste. any minute now it's going to turn into a dough.

    >> now that i find out you put pepper in it, why not sand in it? does any of this matter anymore?

    >> between that, they taste nice. you can eat them if you want.

    >> okay.

    >> so, let's roll this, and then --

    >> select your favorite cookie cutter.

    >> yes. i'm doing a bit of a snowflake.

    >> so, you dip that in flour.

    >> just to help to not stick. it's incredibly easy --

    >> you're going to take them out and poke a hole up top.

    >> i am going to poke a hole. i need a hole poker. i haven't gotten one.

    >> we'll find you one.

    >> look, i can use this bit. so, i make a little hole --

    >> all right.

    >> so that when it bakes, you know, later on you can hang it from the tree.

    >> okay, fine. so you've done that. and what is this here, regular twine?

    >> you can use anything. or if you live near a florist, you can ask them for some of theirs. and then the joy of it, you see. do you feel like --

    >> yeah, sure.

    >> see, now, the thing is that i like them just white and silver. when my kids were the age of your kids, they went mad --

    >> mad colors, right?

    >> you can't get more pink. i wanted minimalist chic and they wanted donatella versace .

    >> who won?

    >> donatella, obviously.

    >> yeah.

    >> and then, and i think this is what makes them look really so cute, when you start putting all the --

    >> hi.

    >> hello.

    >> what are you trying to make, matt?

    >> just trying to make a mess, meredith.

    >> that is very good.

    >> thank you. and i'm going to sprinkle a little bit of this on top of it, okay?

    >> yes.

    >> i don't know why.

    >> yes, because -- i'm going to join on yours because i like the idea of this.

    >> okay, all right.

    >> that looks very sugary.

    >> you didn't know you could make this.

    >> and so, you hang these on the tree, but you store them -- after you make them, you put them in an air-tight container until you hang them on the tree.

    >> yes, but it depends on what your schedule's like. you could do it now --

    >> how long will they last once they're on the tree?

    >> i just leave them on for the whole holidays.

    >> and they're good six weeks later or something?

    >> yes, they are, but i mean, you don't make them permanently to eat, but you can.

    >> quickly, get some beauty shots of this as we get ready to go to commercial. these are gorgeous. nigella, happy holidays .

    >> thank you very much.

TODAY recipes
updated 12/3/2009 9:13:15 AM ET 2009-12-03T14:13:15

Recipe: Edible Christmas Tree Decoration

I couldn’t have Christmas without these, or at least, not happily. Rituals are essential to give us meaning, a sense of ceremony, and making these peppery gingerbready edible decorations is how I have always marked with my children that Christmas had begun.

  • For the cookies
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1-2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) soft butter
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with 1/4 cup runny honey
  • For the icing and trimming
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • Edible gold or silver sprinkles
  • Florists’ ribbon for hanging

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and pepper in a food processor and, with the motor on, add the butter and sugar, then, slowly, the beaten eggs and honey, through the feed tube, though don’t use all of this liquid if the pastry has come together before it’s used up.

Form two fat discs and put one, covered in plastic wrap or in a resealable bag, in the refrigerator while you get started on the other.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Then dust a work surface with flour, roll out the disc, also floured, to about ¼ inch, and cut out your Christmas decoration with cutters of your choice, which could include fir-tree shapes, angels, stars, snowflakes, and so on.

Re-roll and cut out some more, setting aside the dough scraps from this first disc, well covered, while you get on with rolling out the second. When you’ve got both sets of leftover clumps of dough, roll out and cut out again, and keep doing so till all the dough’s used up.

Now take a small piping nozzle and use the pointy end to cut out a hole just below the top of each cookie (through which ribbon can later be threaded).

Arrange the pastry shapes on the lined cookie sheets and bake for about 20 minutes: it’s hard to see when they’re baked, but you can feel; if the underside is no longer doughy, they’re ready. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Mix together the confectioners’ sugar with the meringue powder and 3 tablespoons water, beating it until it’s thick enough to be able to cover the cookies with a just-dripping blanket of white. Carefully ice the cold decorations, using a teaspoon (the tip for dripping, the back for smoothing), and scatter sparkles or sprinkles as you like. When the icing is set, thread ribbon through the holes and hang on you tree.

Serving Size

Makes approx. 35-40

Recipe: Christmas Chocolate Cookies

I love these dark, fat patties of chocolate shortbread exuberantly topped with festive sprinkles. There’s something so cheering about the sight of them, but they have more in their favor than looks: They are a doddle to make, and meltingly gorgeous to eat.

  • 2 1/4 sticks (18 tablespoons) soft butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • For the festive topping
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup boiling water, from a kettle
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Christmas sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 325 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl and, when you have a light, soft whipped mixture, beat in the 1/3 cup cocoa powder (sifting if it is lumpy) and, when that’s mixed in, beat in the flour with the baking soda and baking powder. Or just put everything in the processor and blitz, if you prefer.

This mixture is very soft and sticky and I find it easiest to form the cookies wearing my disposable vinyl gloves, so pinch off pieces about 1 tablespoon in size, roll them into balls, then slightly flatten into fat discs as you place them, well spaced, on your cookies sheet; you should get about 12 on at a time.

Bake each batch for 15 minutes; even though the cookies won’t feel as if they’ve had enough time, they will continue to cook as they cool. They will look slightly cracked on top, and it’s this cosy, homespun look I love.

Remove the cookies sheet to a cold surface and let it sit for 15 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack, with a sheet of newspaper under it (to catch drips while topping them).

To make the topping, put the cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar, water and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and whisk over a low heat until everything’s smoothly combined. Take off the heat for 10 minutes.

When the cookies are cool, drizzle each one with a tablespoonful of chocolate glaze — to glue the sprinkles on in a minute — using the back of the spoon to help spread the mixture, though an uneven dribbly look is part of their charm. After you’ve iced 6 cookies, scatter with some of the Christmas sprinkles, and continue thus until all the cookies are topped. If you ice them all before sprinkling, you will find the cocoa “glue” has dried and the sprinkles won’t stick on.

Serving Size

Makes approx. 24


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