Normally this is about the time I start visualising my homemade Christmas cards. From mini snow scenes to piles of miniature wrapped gifts, my creative efforts have been time consuming but a fairly delightful way to spend an evening or two for a crafty girl like me. Although if I'm honest, they always start off being fun - glass of port, festive tunes ringing out - but after a couple of hours, when I have perfected three or four cards and am faced with another 27 to make (I always figure I'll make for 30 of my nearest and dearest), I become, how can I put it, a mite disenchanted.
Anyway ths year I have had a brainwave. Ditch the DIY crafts (I'm already up to my eyes with ink stamps and scalloped scissors for the impending wedding), and instead, share the Christmas spirit through the kitchen. I was completely inspired by this simple but stylish recipe from Dan Lepard in last week's Guardian, for edible gifts. I plan to make the Stem Ginger Macaroons and package them in cellophane bags, with Merry Christmas gift tags.
Hopefully I can make three batches in one night... I'll let you know how it goes.
Dan Lepard's Stem Ginger Macaroons
Says Dan: The flaked almonds give a crunch to the crust of these macaroons, which is very pleasing, because after it you bite through the soft and slightly peppery heart packed with pieces of ginger. They keep very well, so make a big batch and bag or box them for sweet, elegant gifts. These quantities make about 16-18 macaroons.
200g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
2 medium egg whites
150g chopped stem or glacé ginger, minus the syrup
Mix the ground almonds, sugar, egg whites and ginger until evenly combined.
Roll into balls the size of a smallish unshelled walnut (about 30g), then press on to a mound of flaked almonds so a layer sticks to the outside. This is slightly tricky, but roll them firmly and slowly, and you should manage it.
Place the macaroons on a tray lined with nonstick paper, then heat the oven to 170C (150C fan-assisted)/335F/gas mark 3 and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown, turning the tray halfway through the bake time to make sure the heat gets to the macaroons evenly.
Remove from the oven, sieve icing sugar over the top while they're still hot and leave to cool.