Saturday marked the official start of Christmas in the little loaf household.
We went in search of an oversized tree, cranked up the cheesy tunes, cracked open some bubbles and spent the afternoon stringing up lights and debating between different baubles. I baked a batch of gingerbread (which was delicious, but not quite perfect enough to make an appearance on the blog just yet) and the flat was filled with warmth, laughter and the scent of spices.
Some of you may feel it’s a little too early to start the season’s festivities. My Mum always refused to even think about decorations until just before my brother’s birthday on 19th December, claiming that they felt too tired by the time Christmas Day came around. But since Carnivorous Boyfriend and I both head home for the holidays, it seems a shame not to start early and make the most of our little flat while we can.
We don’t have a huge number of decorations other than the tree, but a wreath always goes up on the front door. Last year we hammered in a nail to hold it in place which, once the wreath was removed, turned into a bit of a booby trap, spiking Carnivorous Boyfriend several times a week as he attempted to open the door whilst holding his bike. Somehow we never got around to removing it which means that this year the wreath was up in seconds: next January we really must remember to take it out . . .
With wreaths in mind, I decided to make something festive to mark the start of advent. After baking up an enormous batch of cookies to send out as part of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (recipes coming on 12th December so please do come back to check them out then), I had a cupboard full of half-opened packets. With juicy dried cranberries, bits of chocolate, pistachios and pecans, chocolate biscuit cake seemed the most sensible, simple way forward, shaping it into individual wreaths for a Christmassy twist.
This is a bit of a kitchen sink recipe in that you can include pretty much anything but. I’ve used dark chocolate, milk chocolate orange segments (mine, not Terry’s), digestive biscuits, pecans, pistachios and cranberries for colour. I also threw in some crunchy feuilletine (left over from these peanut butter chocolate cheesecake bars) but you could substitute with any kind of biscuits (amaretti or cantuccini add a lovely festive flavour), toasted rice or cornflakes. Raisins, sultanas and other nuts would work well and a few chunks of creamy white chocolate would create a nice contrast.
Although I’ve included a photo of a wreath hanging on the tree, I’d actually suggest storing them in the fridge due to the butter content. Plus, if your tree is anything like ours and within plucking distance of the sofa, limiting the number of easy access free-hanging treats might be a good idea if you want to fit into that little black dress come Christmas party time.
If you’re looking for something easy and festive to make this Christmas, do give these chocolate wreaths a go. And if you’re not quite ready to start the celebrations yet, you can always be a boring scrooge and mould the ingredients into a loaf tin. Just saying.
Chocolate Christmas Wreaths (adapted from Konditor & Cook‘s Chocolate Biscuit Cake)
(makes 8 festively plump wreaths)
100g dark chocolate, chopped
100g orange chocolate, chopped
125g unsalted butter
75g golden syrup
1 medium free range egg
10 – 12 digestive biscuits, crumbled
25g feuilletine (optional)
50g pistachios, plus extra to decorate
Handful of cranberries, to decorate
Line two trays with baking parchment or a non-stick silicone mat.
Melt the chocolates in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of boiling water. In a separate saucepan, melt together the butter and golden syrup, then combine with the melted chocolate.
Stir the egg into the chocolate mixture to pasteurise. Fold in the feuilletine, digestive biscuits and nuts then pop the mixture in the fridge to firm up for half an hour or so (don’t leave it too long or the whole thing will set).
Place a metal ring mould onto the baking parchment and fill with dollops of the mixture, making a hollow in the centre of each to form a wreath shape. Repeat to make eight wreaths. Stud pistachios and cranberries into each wreath then return to the fridge to firm up completely. Tie a ribbon round each wreath, if desired.