Jammy Christmas Treats
You know I’ve just been to my store cupboard and looked in sheer amazement at the number of jars of jam I’ve accumulated over the year. Since starting this blog, not surprisingly my jam production has increased, but by how much I was unaware. Of course some of it can be used as very convenient Christmas treats for loved ones as in the form of a nicely wrapped presentation pack. My oh my that does sound pompous but you know what I mean. In fact we might have a look at different presentation ideas as Christmas treats in another blog. That is very much my wife’s territory but I can pass her artistic flair on to you guys – I’m sure she won’t mind.
The other way to convert jam into Christmas treats is to incorporate it into other edible goodies. As Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall would say, “adding value to the produce,” or something like that. So with all this jam in front of me that’s just what I’m going to do. Problem is what am I going to make? Well, I’ve come up with two ideas for the off, and they could not be more poles apart. The first is dead simple and will appeal to a very broad church. The second is complicated to make, very sophisticated and can certainly be given as an edible gift to your most discerning friends and family. So what are they, well festive jam tarts and pfeffernusse. Pfeffernusse I here you cry what on earth is that. Have no fear its not as bad as it sounds and all will be explained shortly – but first the jam tart.
Simplicity itself! Get yourself some puff pastry, either the hard way by making it or the easy way by buying it. No prizes for guessing which option I go for! Then avail yourself with some festive shaped cookie cutters. These are easily sourced through online outlet, Amazon for example has many to choose from. Then simply cut out your shapes, spread a little jam in the centre and cook on a baking tray using the instructions on the puff pastry packet or in the cookbook you get the pastry recipe from.
Hey presto! What great looking Christmas treats you have. They are really quick to knock up and can be served when the family or friends come round. They need only the minimum of prep especially if you buy the pastry hence can be made fresh so as piping hot when served. Alternatively they will keep fine in a sealed plastic container for a good while and just pop them in a hot oven for a few minutes to warm them back through before the folks arrive.
Now pfeffernusse – this is a whole different story! Firstly what the Dickens is pfeffernusse, well its a German biscuit come cake that is full of spices and is served traditionally as a Christmas treat. There are as many recipes for pfeffernusse as there are German Christmas markets I reckon, but here is the one I have concocted that I think will appeal to a wide audience. Many of the recipes call for masses of black pepper and other odd ingredients (the name pfeffernusse actually means pepper nut), but I want to make something that everyone can enjoy so here goes.
For these Christmas treats you’ll need:
- 12oz Plain Flour
- 8oz Clear Honey
- 4oz Butter
- 2 Large Eggs
- 2tsp Baking Powder
- 3tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 2tsp Ground Allspice
- 2tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1/2tsp Ground Cloves
- 1/2tsp Salt
To decorate your Christmas treats:
- Your homemade jam
- Good quality chocolate
To prepare your pfeffernusse:
- Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add all the other dry ingredients.
- Warm the honey, eggs and butter together until the butter has melted and mix thoroughly.
- Stir the warmed mixture into the flour and leave to rest for an hour turning occasionally until it forms a soft dough.
- Roll the soft dough into golf ball size portions using well floured hands. Place on well greased baking paper on a tray and cook in a preheat oven (180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4) for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
- Leave to cool completely then slice the tops off about 1/3 of the way up and carefully scoop out a hole in the centre with a teaspoon. Fill the hole with your homemade jam and place the top back on.
- Melt the chocolate in a bain marie and then pour over the top of each pfeffernusse so as to come down the sides and seal the top on, so as to look like snow atop a hill, all be it brown. You can of course use white chocolate if you want it to look more like snow.
And there you are very sophisticated Christmas treats that you can present as a gift or serve with mulled wine on Christmas Eve as a very different alternative to mince pies. I find the ideal jams to use are plum or strawberry, something with plenty of depth and flavour to compete with the spices in the buscuit.
So there we go jammy Christmas treats!