Candied Popcorn Stars
1 c. sugar
⅓ c. light corn syrup
⅓ c. water
2 tbsp. butter
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
8 c. Popped Corn
⅓ c. red and/or green nonparells
¼ c. cinnamon candies
- Combine sugar and next 3 ingredients in a heavy sauce pan.
- Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; bring to a boil.
- Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 255 degrees F.
- Remove from heat; stir in salt and vanilla. Quickly pour mixture over popcorn; toss gently to coat. Add nonparells, tossing gently to combine.
- Moisten or grease hands. Working quickly, press the mixture into 5-inch star-shaped cookie cutter.
- If candied corn becomes too hard to shape, place in a warm (200 degrees F) oven for a few minutes to soften.
1¼ lb. whole dried figs
zest of 1 orange
1 c. blanched almonds
½ c. orange marmalade
½ c. mini semisweet chocolate chips
¾ c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
3 c. all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
1 c. solid vegetable shortening
1 tbsp. red decorating sugar
1 tbsp. green decorating sugar
- Place figs and orange zest in a food processor and chop, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add almonds, marmalade, chocolate chips, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, cocoa powder, cloves, and cinnamon to mixture; combine. Add warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time (up to 2 teaspoons), until mixture reaches consistency of a thick paste.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine flour, remaining granulated sugar, and baking powder on low speed. With mixer still on low, add shortening, 1 tablespoon at a time (up to 1 cup), and mix until resembling coarse crumbs. Then add water, 1 teaspoon at a time (up to 1 cup), until dough begins to ball around paddle.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Using damp hands, shape each piece into a 10-inch-long log, 1 inch thick. Cut each log into 10 coins. (Keep any dough you’re not using covered with a damp cloth.) Using a rolling pin, roll out each coin to a 3-inch round, about 1/8-inch thickness.
- Place 1 heaping teaspoon fig filling in center of each round of dough. Using your fingers, bring 2 sides of the round up and pinch them over the filling, sealing edges of dough. Turn cookie over so seam is on bottom; then shape cookie into an almond shape. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Transfer cookies to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. With a sharp paring knife, score several vents on top of each cookie (as shown in photo). Sprinkle cookies with decorating sugar.
- Bake cookies until lightly golden, 16 to 20 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Sugar Cookie Dough
2 c. butter
1½ c. sugar
3 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
5 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground allspice
- Beat the butter, using a mixer on medium-high speed. Beat in the sugar, eggs, yolks, and vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to medium-low and beat in the remaining ingredients. If tinting dough, add food coloring.
- For chocolate dough, reduce flour to 4 1/2 cups and add 2/3 cup cocoa.
- For hand-formed cookies, transfer to an airtight container.
- For rolled and cut cookies, divide dough in half, form into 1-inch-thick slabs, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. For sliced cookies, use parchment paper to roll dough into logs.
- Chill dough at least 2 hours. And chill formed cookies 20 minutes before baking at 350 degrees F on parchment-lined baking pans 10 to 15 minutes, depending on cookie size.
- For tinted-dough cookies, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F and bake 12 to 18 minutes.
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Sunflower oil , for greasing
7-8 fruit-flavoured boiled sweets, unwrapped and sorted by colour
400g bag clear mint sweets (I used Fox’s glacier mints)
2 metres of coloured thread or thin ribbon, for hanging
- Grease two large baking trays with the oil. Crush the fruit-flavoured sweets by colour and put into separate bowls.
- Arrange small clumps of coloured sweets onto the trays.
- Put the mints in a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook gently until melted, stirring occasionally with a metal spoon.
- Once melted completely, remove from the heat immediately, otherwise the mixture will burn and discolour.
- Working quickly, design your charm shapes (making sure they have a hole for threading the ribbon) by drizzling spoonfuls of the melted mints over the clumps of coloured sweets on the trays – they will melt into your shape and add interest to your design.
- If the mixture hardens while you are working, return it to a low heat to soften, but try to make as many as you can in one go – the more you heat the mixture, the less clear the final charms will be.
- Leave to set for about 10 mins until hard and cool enough to handle, then remove from the tray by hand – be careful as they will be quite brittle.
- Tie a length of ribbon through each charm for hanging on the tree. Pack in a box between sheets of baking parchment so they don’t stick together. Eat within 3-4 days, or keep as a decoration for up to 4 weeks.