Oh good grief. What. A. Month.
I know that I am far from alone by saying that Christmas needs to bloody well hurry up and get here, pronto. A heady combination of excitement and exhaustion has set in well and truly. The party invites are so very pleasant though. I was filled right up by jolly rambunctious Christmas spirit when, on Saturday night, an entire brass band came into the pub. 150 people entered into the most in choral football chant-esque version of The Twelve Days of Christmas I have ever heard. It was amazing and I felt jingle bells go all the way from my tippy toes through to my Father Christmas hatted head. The very crystallisation of Christmas then and there. The slightly chubby trumpet player made me grin from ear to ear and it was great to see such a collection being made for charity.
The parties are great but boy do I love sitting on the sofa at this time of year. Especially when the tree is up. Pine tree wafts, fairy lights and squashy cushions are an inviting combination that are, quite frankly, impossible to resist. Shove a glass of red in my hand or cup of tea and that's me set. Sealed to the sofa. Forever. What cup of tea (or glass or red wine for that matter) isn't complete without a biscuit? At this time of year the combination of cranberry, orange and chocolate is hard to beat. In a take on a classic British tea time staple, I give you my Christmas Jaffa Cakes. To be eaten in multiples of 3 whilst you seal yourself to the sofa with Home Alone on in the background writing your Christmas cards. Red wine or tea? I leave that choice to you.
An important note to add that inspiration for this recipe was taken from wonderful friend Sian, who made a smashing batch of regular homemade Jaffas last week at work and they were snaffled in an instant.
If you can't be arsed to faff around with making cranberry jelly yourself, do use a packet one instead and follow the instructions on that.
You can also freeze the base bits or the cake bits if you will for up to a couple of months. Defrost thoroughly before finishing with jelly and chocolate.
50g plain flour, sieved
50g caster sugar
200ml cranberry juice (from a carton is fine)
2 gelatine leaves
200g dark chocolate
30g melted butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Handful of dried cranberries
Orange oil or extract (you can get this from the home baking section in the supermarket. Failing that the fine zest of half an orange)
A shallow fairy cake tin.
An empty metal tea light holder
Preheat the oven to 180C.
For the jelly, put the gelatine leaves in water to soften. Place the cranberry juice in a pan with a teaspoon of sugar and warm and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Squeeze out the water from the gelatine laves and add to the pan, stir until dissolved. Pour the liquid into a dish so you have a flat and thin layer of jelly - about half a centimetre. Put in the fridge to set.
Fill a pan with about 2-3 cm of boiling water and reduce the heat so it simmers. Put a heatproof bowl over the top and add the sugar and eggs. Whisk with an electric whisk for a few minutes until it is thick and creamy. You should have trails left by the beaters in the mixture.
Remove from the heat and beat in the flour until thick and well combined.
Melt the butter and brush in each of the holes in your tin. Put the tin in the fridge so the butter solidifies. It should only take a couple of minutes.
Once hard, remove from the fridge and spoon the batter into each hole until each is half filled. Place in the oven for around 8-10 mins until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
Meanwhile melt the chocolate. Add a few drops of orange extract or the zest of half an orange along with half a teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir into the chocolate. I find it good to have a taste and add more orange/cinnamon as you see fit! Leave the chocolate to cool a little before spreading on the cakes as it will melt the jelly !
Take the jelly out of the fridge and cut small rounds out with the upside down tealight holder. Sometimes it helps to put a little hole in the base of the holder so you don't get an air lock when you press out the jelly. Place a little round on each cake.
Cover each cake in chocolate and put a few dried cranberries on each.
Enjoy, stuck to the sofa with tea/wine.