Helloooo. It's Friday again and oh my its less than three weeks till Christmas (did I just say that?, sorry!). Not sure whether I am feeling excited or just an itsy bitsy frazzled by this prospect as my to-do-list is forever increasing, I mean how does this happen? So the plan this morning, once I got over the shock of Mandela passing (more on that later), was to start getting to grips with this pesky list that clearly seems to be off with the fairies. Not only did I busy myself in the kitchen making cakes for the School Christmas fair tomorrow, I also managed to make three Christmas presents, hooray!! Tick, tick, tick!
Now these gifts are such a wonderful idea, which I can't take credit for, and seeing that it fits in perfectly with my weekly bake I figured I might as well share the idea and hopefully inspire a few last minute gift ideas. These very simple 'Cookies in a jar' are so easy to make and fairly inexpensive too. Going on the premise that I reckon most kids love doing a spot of baking, I am sure these little gifts will be a big hit. I made three of them, using two different recipes with a few tweaks here and there, so if you want to give it a go, this is what you will need to get started.
A large jar, I just used some very large old mayo and chutney jars I had in the cupboard
1 3/4 cups flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup m&m's or something similar. I like the idea of a bit of colour
Mix together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt and set aside
Start by filling your jar with the dark brown sugar as it is the heaviest, then white and then some of the cocoa followed by some chocolate chips. Then start adding your flour mixture and alternate with cocoa powder and chocolate chips till all the ingredients are used. Decorate your jar as you chose and attached the instructions below.
Hopefully you can just print out the instructions below that needs to be attached to the jar.
1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C
2. Empty cookie mix into a large bowl and thoroughly
blend the mixture by hand
3. Mix in ¾ cup of softened butter or margarine
4. Mix in 1 egg, slightly beaten
5. Mix in 1tsp of Vanilla essence
6. Shape the mixture into walnut size balls and
place around 2 inches apart on parchment paper
7. Bake for 10-15 minutes
The other two jars were filled with ingredients for Chocolate Brownies, a definite favourite with my kids.
1 1/4 cups flour
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cups of cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups caster sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
To fill your jar, simply mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and fill the bottom of the jar, then add some of the cocoa powder and then the majority of the sugar, followed by the last of the cocoa powder and the last the last of the sugar. Put the chocolate chips on top. Decorate your jar if you wish and add the following instruction for your little recipient.
1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C
2. Grease and flour a baking pan (9 x 13 inch)
3. Empty jar of brownie mix into a large mixing bowl and mix by hand
4. Mix in ¾ cup of melted butter and 4 eggs
5. Spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes
7. Cool completely before cutting into 2 inch squares
Tomorrow is our School Christmas fair and I wanted to make some reindeer cupcakes for the kids that I made last year for our annual Christmas get together as the kids absolutely loved them, but this time I made a few improvements. Firstly I used small marshmallows, which I cut in half and then marked the eyes using an edible food pen.
Secondly I used some Giant Buttons for the base of the nose and then made some red noses out of royal icing (using food colouring paste and not liquid) and cutting the shapes with the lid of my almond essence bottle. This looks so much better than the smarties I used last year and it also seems a great deal sturdier.
For the cake mix I just used my Gluten and Dairy free Chocolate Cake recipe to make 24 cupcakes, the recipe can be found here. From experience I know now that there are always a need for allergen free cakes at the school and needles to say I am more than happy to supply these. For the antlers my doh came to the rescue and managed to find some chocolate pretzels.
This week little Es and me had some special time without the boys so we made the very most of it by unwrapping some baubles..
and putting a few decorations here and there and all this whilst blissfully singing full pelt to Michael Buble's Christmas album without the constant nagging of the boys to change the record 'cos its boring'. Instead we giggled and repeated a few tunes and Mummy even got a little excited that she might just again be kissing Santa Claus on Christmas eve...
We are off to get our tree tomorrow after the School fair and needless to say we are all very excited.
Before I go I just wanted to pay tribute to the most remarkable man of our time. Not only did he bring a rainbow nation together, but somehow he united the world. We all respected and admired him, and I can't think of another leader that achieved global success in the same way that Nelson Mandela did. He fought for equality in South Africa, but also around the world. He was a beacon of hope and he leaves behind the most remarkable legacy that will continue to drive and inspire many generations still to come. He touched my life personally and being a child of apartheid, I was there when he was released, and there when he was inaugurated in 1994, and today I lit a candle for Madiba for being a saint who brought some level of peace to the world. I will always remember him as a strong and gracious man who wore wonderful shirts, laughed and stood up to the world for what he believed in. Madiba you were a truly remarkable man, may you rest in Peace.
photo borrowed from newsinfo. enquirer.net