Saturday, 19 December 2015

Cheese and walnut biscuits for Christmas gifts

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our place.  The Christmas tree is up.  I have made my first batch of chocolate mince pies.  They disappeared quickly.  A gingerbread house sits on our kitchen table.  We have been eating loads of cherries and drinking Crabbies ginger beer.  And I have made some gifts in the kitchen. 

I am inspired by bloggers who make lots of goodies to pack into Christmas boxes to give away.  I wish I could say I was one of them.  But I only look on in awe.  Then occasionally I make a few small offerings.  One of the bloggers who makes an amazing amount of gifts is Cakelaw.  I have bookmarked a lot of her Christmas recipes.

I was volunteering at a Christmas lunch the other day and wanted to bring a plate along.  Time was tight.  It had to be quick.  I stumbled across these cheese and walnut shortbreads in my bookmarks.  They were quick and easy.  And tasted great.  Crisp, cheesey and melt in the mouth sort of shortbread.  They are quite different to Nigella's cheese stars (like these) that I love but are best in the first day or two and less buttery.

Most of them were eaten by the volunteers in our lunch before the guests arrived.  When I said I had made them someone said that they had thought they were biscuits from a packet.  They hastened to add that this was meant in the nicest of ways.

The party was after lunch so we served scones with jam and cream, Christmas pudding, white Christmas and crackers with cheese.  We chatted to the guests and sang carols.  Santa arrived at the end and gave everyone presents.  It was all very jolly and festive.  More importantly, it was great to be able to involved in a local community event.

I had only had time to use half the dough and pulled out the other half the next day.  I wanted to make something for Sylvia's teachers.  Savoury seemed a good option in this time when we have so many sweets.  Sylvia enjoyed helping make the second batch of shortbreads.

In the above photos I put my little champagne cork angel when it was work in progress.  I later glued on a glittery gold pipe cleaner halo and a ribbon around the neck.  It was then returned to the friend who had brought over a bottle of champagne.

Another part of our Christmas is the picture books that we only bring out at this time of year.  This year I bought a new one called What do you Wish for? by Jane Godwin with beautiful illustrations by Anna Walker.  Every time I read it, the hair stands up on the back of my neck because it is so sweet.  I was given some gift tags when I bought it.  They finished off the packs of shortbread stars nicely for teacher gifts.

I was glad I baked them a few days ago before our heat wave began.  Ironically, last weekend we decided not to go to an outdoor carols service because it was too cold (19 C) and today we have cancelled a trip to the Fitzroy Market and Moonlight because it was too hot (41 C).  Thank goodness for the pool!  Hopefully we will get some cooler weather before Christmas to bake more mince pies and maybe even more of these cheese and walnut shortbreads.

I am sending these to Caroline (and Ros) for Alphabakes (N for Nuts).

More savoury biscuits or crackers on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cheese hearts
Chickpea crackers (gf, v)
Polenta parmesan thyme crackers (gf)
Scottish oatcakes
Spinach crackers with French lavender salt (v)
Tofu and pesto crackers (v)

Cheese and Walnut Shortbreads
Adapted from Margaret Fulton's Christmas via Laws of the Kitchen
Makes about 72

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
185g cold butter, chopped into 1cm cubes (I used mostly margarine)
1 1/2 cups finely grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Mix the flour, smoked paprika and salt in the food processor.  Add butter, cheeses and walnuts.  Process until it forms a ball of dough.  Briefly knead on a lightly floured surface until you have a smooth ball.

At this stage it is best to wrap in clingfilm and refridgerate for at least an hour.  I halved the dough and used half straight away which was fine and left the other half in the fridge for a day.

Preheat oven to 180 C and line a few oven trays with baking paper.  Roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 2-3mm thick.  Cut into stars or the shapes you desire.  Transfer to prepared oven trays leaving about 1-2cm between each shape.  Repeat with any leftover scraps of dough  then continue to cut out shapes with second half of dough.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.  (They don't take on a lot of colour so just watch that the edges aren't getting too brown.)  Cool on wire rack.  They keep well for at least 4 days in an airtight container.  (That is as many days as we kept them)

On the Stereo:
Christmas in the Heart: Bob Dylan

17 comments:

  1. Such festivity in this post- everything looks amazing. Merry Christmas to you all!!

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  2. These biscuits sound good. I am glad I did my baking last weekend too - it is a scorcher this weekend.

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    1. Thanks Cakelaw - I was glad to get some baking done then but there is not much relief closer to christmas

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  3. I've heard you guys have had a massive heatwave this weekend. It was warm here but nowhere near as crazy. I still wouldn't have wanted to switch on the oven though!

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - yes although an odd heatwave where the weather still went up and down - I hung out washing yesterday morning because it was so hot and then got caught out by the afternoon rain that went on and on so my washing was still wet this morning - strange weather!

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  4. These look like lovely gifts and I also like your cork angel! It sounds like things are very festive at your place.

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    1. Thanks Kari - all very festive indeed

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  5. Very nice savoury bakings. I wish I had the time and strength to bake more food gifts, it would be so nice.

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    1. Thanks VegHog - I never do as much as I plan so I understand!

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  6. The internet makes the world so small... we can imagine Christmas in a heat wave with you, imagine the horrible avalanche in Svalbard near the North Pole where it's permanent night for months, imagine a British or French or Canadian Christmas, imagine with bloggers in Asia, all in sync worldwide.

    Best wishes for wonderful celebrations... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Mae - yes blogging does reveal so much of the rest of the world to us and in far more intimate detail than the mainstream media!

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  7. Your biscuits look great and so festive. The weather in Sydney has been similar with incredibly hot days and then next day the temperature is halved. I love your cork angel! xx

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    1. Thanks Charlie - yes such strange weather - never seems to make up its mind - and our cork angel has left us to live with one of my friends!

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  8. Mmmmm.... These sound lovely and yes, they look really professional too! I haven't made savoury biscuits in a while. These are making me hanker after a batch!.......
    I hope Sylvia's teachers enjoyed them too.... they look so lovely all packaged and labelled!

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  9. I do try to make edible gifts at Christmas but usually only have time to do one or two things - I like how simple and straightforward these are! Thanks for sharing with Alphabakes.

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  10. "But I only look on in awe."
    I kind of look at most things you do that way - so we're even haha ;p
    I love homemade gifts and yours turned out beautifully. The tags are really pretty - I love that they came with your picture book.
    Looks like you had a great holiday =)

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