Photograph by Syd Spence (thanks Syd)
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 Soon afterwards Mary got ready and hurried off to a town in the hill country of Judea. 40 She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby moved within her. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and said in a loud voice, “You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord's mother comes to visit me? 44 For as soon as I heard your greeting, the baby within me jumped with gladness. 45 How happy you are to believe that the Lord's message to you will come true!”
Keeping Christ at the heart of Christmas
At Fancy Pans, we shall be decorating the Christmas trees soon. When I say we, I don't mean me. I dislike Christmas trees, or at least, I dislike putting them up. If they could be pulled from a box, ready done, then I'd be happy. So that job is left to Mel who I know will do a fantastic job. So now would be a good time to make the Christmas Tree biscuits in preparation for the ceremonial hanging of said decorations.
Of course, you don't have to hang them on the tree to gather dust and throw to the birds after twelfth night, you can actually eat them.
Here's what you do to make Christmas Tree Biscuits:
Before you begin you might want to switch the oven on – it needs to be fairly hot at gas mark 5, 190C and 375F
Put your tin of black treacle somewhere warm to make it more runny.
Take a large bowl and sieve 7 oz. (200gm) of plain flour into it. Add half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, half a teaspoon of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of ground ginger.
Spoon 3oz (75gm) of the (now runny) black treacle into a saucepan with 4oz (100gm) of butter, or you can use marg if Marge doesn’t mind. Melt them together gently.
Take 4 cardamom seeds, split them open and crush the kernels, then add them to the melted mixture. To this, add 2 oz. (50gm) caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of ground almonds.
Combine the melted ingredients with the dry and add one beaten egg yolk (more meringues to make!)
Work it all together to form a smooth dough. Wrap in cling film (the dough, not you) and leave in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes.
Half an hour later, after you have had a cuppa and listened to today’s song, (or read the spooky story - it all starts with a Christmas tree) lightly flour a surface and your rolling-pin, and roll out the dough (after you have taken off the cling-film) to about a quarter of an inch thick (that’s about 5mm).
Use cutters to make the desired shapes, or do it free-hand: hearts*, stars, etc. Place them on a greased baking sheet (or one lined with grease-proof paper) and bake for about 10-12 minutes until they are just firm to the touch. As soon as you remove them from the oven, make a hole in each, with a suitable implement, for the ribbon to be threaded through. Put them onto wire trays to cool where they will ‘firm up’ nicely.
When they are cold, you can decorate them using either bought coloured icing, or make your own by adding colouring to sieved icing sugar and putting it into a piping bag. You can stick on silver balls (edible ones), sugar flowers, etc. – Go on, be creative. Lastly, thread a ribbon through and tie to form a loop, then you're all ready to hang on the tree (not you, the decorations).
7oz (200gm) plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
4oz (100gm) butter or margarine
2oz (50 gm.) caster sugar
4 cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons ground almonds
3oz (75 gm.) black treacle
1 beaten egg yolk
For the Icing:
3oz (75 gm.) sieved icing sugar
About 1 tablespoon warm water (+ food colouring)
*Speaking of hearts, Why not enjoy some great Christmas music while you make your biscuits? - click on the arrow to enjoy: