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Favorite festive treats

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Favorite festive treats

Favorite festive treats bring back so many memories of my Childhood Christmas. No our Noël experience in France has been somewhat different and sometimes challenging, but we remained optimistic as this season allows you to be. The smells of Speculoos spiced lattes, Nutella filled crepes and glue wine. When it comes to celebrating a French Christmas I have it pretty down to a T for this year to come. Come and read a bit more and get a few ideas for your Christmas table.

Blink, it’s almost Christmas. Seriously I can’t even believe that another year has passed. It has been such an eventful year and time of my life. So much joy and hardship have been rolled into this year and now I get the chance to celebrate this wondrous year with two men in my life. So enormously blessed. Christmas is somewhat different in France, not really the traditions that are so different, but the fact that you’re celebrating it alone. The lights are up, Christmas decorations are stacked in shop windows and people are busy buying gifts for their loved ones.

Luckily I get to spend two weeks in sunny SA before returning just before Christmas. I will arrive at a very cold, but a cheery little town. Christmas markets will be up and running and there will be the smell of Nutella crepes, hot chocolate, and roasted chestnuts. As you will see last year around Christmas I was 37 weeks pregnant. How we all should celebrate all the different phases of our lives. Even when it’s alone and somewhat uncomfortable. That’s life and it should be celebrated. (28)

I remember a while back I read a post about this stage of life is hard and been sure it very well is. Becoming a mother lets you enjoy the little things in life like my one friend said. She gave me the advice to really just enjoy painting your nails when the opportunity presents itself or just taking nap, but unfortunately, I have the tendency to not sit still which let to utter exhaustion at a point. What have I learned from 2017- life is hard and you’re not perfect and can’t do everything and you know what it’s okay.

I look back at the past all the Christmas that I have celebrated. Our first year we where newlyweds, alone and new to the culture in France surrounded by new friends. Feeling somewhat awkward and alone. The Christmas after we celebrated it in between the mountains in Chamonix. Our third year in Montpellier was celebrated with many South Africans surrounded by all the Christmas comfort food that we all know and love.In 2016 yet again we moved and our first year in Castres I was 37w along pregnant with family guests. Cooking has become my forte, but at 37weeks you’re now quite so enthusiastic anymore, but you do it all with a smile (on the inside). Now in 2017, we celebrate this year with more love, spit-ups, and little cuddles that I could even ask for.

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So obviously food should be on the table and I am planning a much more low key Christmas… Oh, who am I kidding right? I always seem to overdo it when I get the opportunity to host. My Mother in law will be visiting so this gives me the chance while I have a babysitter to cook to heart’s content. We have also ordered our Christmas pajamas and will be spending Christmas morning in Santa Clos printed pajamas. Don’t even go there, my husband did the picking, lol.  We bought it from Pat Pat, they have such a broad variety. We’ll just certainly have to wear undergarments because they are not as thick as we thought they would be. I don’t want to scare my kid of Christmas completely!

What are the French traditions for Christmas? Well, it seems as though they are pretty much like us when it comes to celebrating Noël. Big dinners are planned, the family is invited with copious amounts of food. The traditional cake is Boeche de noël (if you are looking for the recipe check out this post from last year.) I have asked a few Frenchies what do they traditionally make to eat and they all seem to have the same response, “We’ll have whatever we want”. Well, to elaborate a bit Turkey, duck, beef etc can be on the menu alongside a few known desserts like creme brulee, chocolate dipped churros etc.  There are a few courses though so this Christmas celebration can take a while just like the French know to do.

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So I am going to share just a few dessert recipes with you this week to get you started for the festive season ahead. I know there are so many options to choose from and even I get overwhelmed. When I have just too many things to choose from, I can’t decide at all! Some are healthy and some are not so healthy, but that is why indulging is needed to cope with the family drama going around. Whereas we will try and keep our almost nine-month-old on a very close watch, he is grabbing everything at this stage. I’ll leave the baking and cooking to you guys, hopefully, you’ll get a few things done!

Recipe

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Prep Time
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Cook Time

Serves

20-25 cookies

Espresso Caramel self saucing puddings

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Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat/Rye or plain flour
  • 1 tbsp almond flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tsp caramel essence
  • 1/2 cup milk/Coconut milk/Cream
  • 35g vegan butter or normal butter
  • 1 flax egg or 1 normal egg
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Sift together the flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder and two spoons cocoa powder.
  3. Spoon this mixture into ovenproof cups or creme brulee cups.
  4. Mix together the other spoon of cocoa powder and the rest of the sugar, sprinkle a spoonful over every cup and then pour over the boiling water.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes till cooked.
  6. Serve hot out of the oven with coconut whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
0
min
Prep Time
0
min
Cook Time

Serves

20-25 cookies

Speculoos Gingerbread men

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Ingredients 

  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 70g vegetable butter (like soy or coconut)
  • 1 tsp speculoos spice (Dille et Kamille) or gingerbread spice
  • 50g coconut oil
  • 125g coconut sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg yellow or 1 vegan flax egg
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup/agave/molasses

Icing ingredients

  • 1 egg white or coconut oil
  • 125g white sugar
  • drops of lemon juice

Method

  1. Heat up the oven to 175 degrees Celcius.
  2. Mix together the butter, coconut oil and the sugar until nice and smooth.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and then mix well till dough forms.
  4. Scoop the dough out on a flour surface areas and roll out with a rolling pin.
  5. Press out gingerbread men and place on a parchment paper lined a baking tray. (cookie press bought from Dille et Kamille)
  6. Bake for 9-12 minutes till nice and brown and remove to cool.
  7. Let the cookies cool completely before adding the frosting, let them dry in a dry place at room temperature.

Gingerbread icing 

  1. Mix all these ingredients together and let it rest for a bit before pouring into a piping bag with a small nozzle.
  2. Decorate your cookies and let them dry at room temperature.
  3. Store in airtight container.
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Prep Time
0
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Cook Time

Serves

2-4 people

Giant peppermint cookie

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Ingredients 

  • 125g salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour (farina de ble)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 slab of peppermint chocolate
  • funfetti sprinkles
  • silver cake sprinkles

Method

  1. Heat up the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
  2. Mix together the softened butter and sugar, add the egg and mix slightly more.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and the chopped chocolate. Mix well until pliable dough forms and scoop the dough out into the giant cookie press. (Bought from Maison du Monde.)
  4. Remove some of the dough so that the cookie dough does not bake over the sides of the cookie press. You can lake extra cookies with this dough.
  5. Now its time to add the sprinkles and other decorations.
  6.  Bake for 14-20 minutes till nice and golden.
  7. Let it rest a bit before you remove it from the cookie press, decorate a bit further if you like. Wrap it up and give it as a present to someone special!

Happy festive baking! I am on my way to South African for a bit of sunshine before Christmas. Wish me luck, I will be flying on my own! For more recipes be sure to check out my Instagram and Facebook page.

Have a lovely weekend!

M*

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