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4 Christmas Sweets

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


  1. Combine sugar and next 3 ingredients in a heavy sauce pan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; bring to a boil.
  3. Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 255 degrees F.
  4. Remove from heat; stir in salt and vanilla. Quickly pour mixture over popcorn; toss gently to coat. Add nonparells, tossing gently to combine.
  5. Moisten or grease hands. Working quickly, press the mixture into 5-inch star-shaped cookie cutter.
  6. If candied corn becomes too hard to shape, place in a warm (200 degrees F) oven for a few minutes to soften.

Fig Cookies

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
5 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground allspice


  1. 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.
  2. For chocolate dough, reduce flour to 4 1/2 cups and add 2/3 cup cocoa.
  3. For hand-formed cookies, transfer to an airtight container.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. For tinted-dough cookies, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F and bake 12 to 18 minutes.

Sugar charms
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


  1. Grease two large baking trays with the oil. Crush the fruit-flavoured sweets by colour and put into separate bowls.
  2. Arrange small clumps of coloured sweets onto the trays.
  3. Put the mints in a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook gently until melted, stirring occasionally with a metal spoon.
  4. Once melted completely, remove from the heat immediately, otherwise the mixture will burn and discolour.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

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