Well, the big day is just two weeks away. Is everyone all ready? Are all your gifts bought and wrapped? Cards written and sent?? Food ordered, puddings, cakes and pies baked?
I know!!! Hasn't it crept up on us quickly???? I am just amazed at how fast it has come upon us! I'm pretty much all prepared now, with only a few more cards to get out. Sorry folks . . . my Christmas Card may be a bit late arriving this year, but then again better late than never, right?
I bought up lots of cranberries over the past month, picking up a bag or two whenever I hit the shops. It's really the best time of the year to buy them here, because there are lots in the shops at a really good price, and you just can't find them any other time of the year, or only very rarely if you do. I just throw them, right in the unopened bag, into the freezer and that way I have them whenever I want some throughout the winter months. They come in ever so handy, seriously.
Today I made these delicious Christmas Muffins . . . just perfect to stog into the Christmas morning breakfast bread basket! (Or perhaps even gift a neighbour or close friend with.)
Lovely sweet muffins, with the tartness of fresh cranberries baked up all ruby pretty . . . stogged along with some sweet and creamy white chocolate chunks . . . in a batter redolent of Grand Marnier . . . sweetly orange, and topped with crunchy flaked almonds and demerera sugar.
Of course you could use orange juice and a bit of fresh orange zest if you didn't want to use the Grand Marnier, but it is a lovely touch.
Moist, pleasing and special. These have it all! (Sorry for the awful photos. The light is just sooooo poor this time of year. I hate it. )
Picture it . . . Grand Marnier, the savoury delicate crunch of flaked almonds and demerara sugar, stogged full of fresh cranberries and white chocolate chunks. Perfect fot the Christmas morning bread basket!
For the Batter:
310g plain flour (2 1/4 cups)
170g caster sugar (generous 3/4 cup)
15g baking powder (scant 4 tsp)
generous pinch salt
50g ground almonds (generous half cup)
3.5 fluid ounces Grand Marnier
3.5 fluid ounces milk
3.5 fluid ounces oil
1 tsp almond extract
2 large free range eggs
For the filling:
200g fresh or frozen cranberried (2 cups)
5 ounces white chocolate, chopped
For the topping:
a handful of flaked almonds
2 TBS demerara sugar (turbinado)
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Butter and flour a 12 section muffin tin or line with paper liners.
Sift the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in the ground almonds. Beat together the wet ingredients. Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir in the wet, just to moisten. Gently fold in the cranberries and chocolate bits. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle evenly with the flaked almonds and demerara sugar.
Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the muffins are well risen, golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Let sit in the pan for about 5 minutes before transfering to a wire rack to finish cooling. Serve warm.