26 December 2010

Christmas hampers - vanillekipferl and ras el hanout

I hope these last few days have been wonderful for you with plenty of decadent Christmas treats and cheer shared with family and loved ones. I have had an exceptional time preparing the house for the arrival of my (soon to be) in-laws, baking cookies and cupcakes, making spice mixers and pickled onions, and cooking meals to ensure it was a festive occasion. And boy are my feet tired! But, I've had a ball.

I was originally going to put a blog post about what was in my hampers before Christmas, but, between all of the above - and slotting in a little drinking and gossip time with loved ones - I completely ran out of time. However, I hope these will still give you some great gift ideas for other special events throughout the year.

Small gift boxes with cupcakes and
vanillekipferl (vanilla crescents)

Vanillekipferl (German for vanilla crescents)
This recipe was courtesy of a friend of mine, Sian.

My very own vanillekipferl cookies coated
with icing sugar and vanilla bean powder
150g unsalted butter
210g flour
80g ground hazelnuts or almonds (I used almonds)
80g icing sugar
1 egg
60g icing sugar and 3 tablespoons *vanilla sugar (or to taste) to coat the biscuits once cooked

*I bought vanilla bean powder from the cake decoration and baking section of a supermarket. You can also buy vanilla sugar from the spice/herbs section.

Preheat oven to 160 degree celsius.

Sieve the flour into a heap on a pastry board or into a large bowl.

Cut the cold butter into small pieces and mix with the flour. Add icing sugar, ground almonds or hazelnuts and the egg.

Rinse hands with cold water and knead the mixture into a dough. Chill for half an hour in the fridge.

Form thumb think rolls from the dough, cut into 1cm wide pieces, roll and form crescents.

Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until very light gold in colour.

Turn the crescents in a mixture of powdered sugar and vanilla sugar while still hot as it will help the sugar stick to the biscuit.

Inside the Christmas hampers:
vanillekipferl, spiced cookies, pickled
onions, ras el hanout and choc chip cookies

Ras el hanout
This is a wonderful recipe from a little taste of morocco. I love this spice mix because not only can it be used in tagine recipes, you can simply use it on its own sprinkled over chicken, lamb or fish with some olive oil before cooking the meat how you like - roasted, fried or barbecued. You can also buy this pre-mixed from some supermarkets and most delis.

1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground cardamom
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground coriander
2 nutmegs, freshly grated (or 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg)

Combine all spices together and store in a tightly sealed jar.

A Christmas hamper wrapped
and ready to go


  1. Fiona, you must be reading my mind. I'm really into Moroccan flavours this summer! Thanks for giving the recipe for ras-el-hanout. It is my favourite! xx

  2. oooh thanks for these, just a question though, why does the butter have to be cold in the first recipe? Doesn't it make it hard to mix?

  3. Hi, Kitty. I actually waited for the butter to be soft to mix it easier with my hands. However, I'm assuming the recipe is saying that so you treat it like an apple crumble mix. They still tasted devine - well I thought so - with soft butter.