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Oh Christmas treats, oh Christmas treats . . .

Whether you are baking for the masses or just looking for homemade gift ideas, these Christmas treats are sure to delight. Preeti Maheshwari and Tayla Pearce share their favourite festive recipes to inspire home cooks around the region. The whole family can get involved, even if it is just to eat the loose sprinkles scattered on the bench . . .

Shortbread

Ingredients

225g butter, cold, diced into cubes

½ cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1¾ cups all-purpose flour

Method

Put flour, sugar and salt into a food processor. Add butter and blitz a few times then add vanilla. Pulse until it comes together as a dough.

On a floured surface, roll the dough out to 1cm thick. Cut into squares or rectangles (using a cookie cutter or knife).

Transfer to baking-paper lined trays, spacing a few centimetres apart.

Transfer the tray to the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes. Halfway through preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven until cookies are just set, about 13 - 16 minutes.

Let cool for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with second baking tray.

Once cool, decorate with icing made up of 1 cup icing sugar, 1 tbsp butter, a few drops of food colouring and about a tablespoon of hot water. Add more or less water depending on the consistency you are after.

Drizzle over the cookies and decorate with sprinkles.

Chocolate bark

Melt a bag of white chocolate buttons.

Spread thin on baking paper on a baking tray.

Sprinkle toppings (crushed candy canes, Christmas-themed sprinkles etc) on before the chocolate sets.

Place in refrigerator to set and then break with your hands.

Cupcakes

Ingredients

For cupcake:

1½ cups plain flour

1 tsp cornflour

¼ cup butter (You can replace it with oil if you prefer)

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup milk

¾ tsp vanilla essence

½ tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)

1 tsp baking powder

1½ tbsp chocolate chips

For icing

100 grams butter

1½ cups icing sugar

1tsp vanilla essence

Sprinkles

Method

Sift the flour, baking powder, cornflour and salt together at least twice to make sure they are evenly distributed. Set aside.

In a wide bowl, cream the butter and sugar using a whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Add vanilla essence to the milk, mix well and add the milk to the creamed butter-sugar mixture. Beat well until it’s light and creamy.

Now add the flour in two parts to the creamed mixture and mix well.

Add in the chocolate chips, reserving half a tablespoon for the topping. Fold in gently, being careful not to overmix.

Arrange muffin liners in the baking tray and spoon the mixture to fill three-quarters of the muffin liners. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and bake the muffins for 20-25 mins or until a fork inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Decorate the cupcakes with buttercream and Christmas-themed sprinkles.

Cupcakes. Picture by Preeti Maheshwari
Shortbread with a festive vibe. Picture by Tayla Pearce
Chocolate bark - an attractive Christmas treat. Picture by Tayla Pearce