Handing out some homemade edible gifts for the teachers, friends or family this Christmas is guaranteed to earn you and the kids plenty of gold stars (or a good school report next term).

These festive treats are really fun to make and easy enough to get the kids involved, too. You’ll probably have all the clearing up to do, but I’m afraid that’s all part of being a parent! My advice is to save some of the goodies for yourself (especially the Chocolate Cherry Liqueur) and it’ll all be worth it!



MAKES about 12

• 125g butter, softened
• 75g caster sugar
• finely grated zest of 1 orange
• 1 egg yolk
• 150g plain flour
• 100g white chocolate drops
• 50g dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas 4.

1/ Beat together the butter and sugar until it is pale and creamy, either in an electric mixer or if you are feeling energetic, then by hand. Beat in the orange zest and egg yolk. Add the flour, half of the white chocolate drops and cranberries. Mix until you have a smooth dough, with the only lumps being the chocolate and cranberries.

2/ Using your hands, roll the dough into golf-sized balls and lightly press each one flat on to a greased baking sheet, making sure they are spread slightly apart.

3/ Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and let cool a couple of minutes before cooling completely on a wire rack.

4/ Melt the remaining white chocolate in a small bowl over a pan of simmering water, or very gently in the microwave. Drizzle over the cooled cookies. Leave to set and the cookies are ready to pack/wrap or simply eat.

PS…The white chocolate can be replaced for milk or plain chocolate if preferred. Other dried fruits can be used instead of cranberries, such as cherries or sultanas. You can also add 50g chopped macadamia or pecan nuts to the cookie dough.


Gingerbread snowflakes

MAKES 26 x 8 cm biscuits (or more or less, depending on the size of your pastry cutter)

• 125g light muscovado sugar
• 1 tbsp black treacle
• 1 tbsp golden syrup
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• coloured writing icing tubes
• 375g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
• 2 tbsp ground ginger
• 1 tbsp cocoa powder
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 125g butter, softened

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan ovens/gas 4.

1/ Sift together the flour, ginger, cocoa, cinnamon and baking powder.

2/ In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk until it is slightly creamy. Add the treacle, golden syrup and egg. Beat until smooth.

3/ Using a wooden spoon, gradually add the flour mixture, a little at a time so the flour doesn’t go everywhere, and then finish off with your hands to form a smooth dough, kneading lightly on the worktop.

4/ Roll the gingerbread dough out on a flour dusted worktop, to around the thickness of a £1 coin. Using a pastry cutter, cut out as many small or large biscuit shapes as you can, and place on greased baking sheets. There is no need to space them well apart as the dough won’t spread while cooking.

5/ Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, until they are starting to firm up. If you want to hang them on your Christmas tree, make a hole with a skewer, near the edge while they are still hot.

6/ Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

7/ Once cold the gingerbread biscuits can be decorated like snowflakes (or, of course whatever pattern you or the kids like).

PS… Once made these will keep, un-decorated, for 3 weeks in an airtight container and decorate when required. If they are decorated too soon, they will become soft.

A special treat for the grown-ups:


Chocolate cherry liqueur

MAKES about 800ml

• 200g good quality milk chocolate, broken into pieces
• 300ml single cream
• 400ml Cherry Brandy
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan ovens/gas 4.

Melt the chocolate and cream in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or gently in the microwave. Stir well until the mixture is smooth, cover with cling film and leave to cool to room temperature. Once it’s cool, stir in the Cherry Brandy.

Pour the Chocolate Cherry Liqueur into 1 or 2 sterilized glass bottles and store at room temperature. Before drinking or pouring over ice-cream, shake the bottle lightly before using. The liqueur will last for a good few weeks (if it isn’t all drunk before then).

PS… You can make this into a chocolate Orange Liqueur by swapping the Cherry Brandy for an orange flavoured liqueur. Alternatively, use whatever flavour liqueur takes your fancy, such as hazelnut, almond, coffee, coconut or mint.