Sunday Kitchen: Mince surprise

The Dunbrody House’s star chef, Kevin Dundon, shares his favourite recipes

Gingerbread Men

Chocolate Christmas Trees

Kevin with the Christmas turkey

Sunday World

IT’S all about spoiling family and friends in this week’s Magazine+, so I’m sharing two great edible gift ideas. The gingerbread man is a Christmas classic that always delights kids and adults alike. The light spices and shortbread texture of these little men or women, depending on the pastry cutter, will be devoured in no time. But a word of warning: decorate them as needed, as humidity is their number one enemy. Hanging one on the Christmas tree is great — just make sure it’s sealed in a clear airtight bag, so it is still tasty. Once the dough is rolled and the biscuits are cut out, pop them in the fridge for a while to help retain a better shape while baking. Don’t forget to create a hole large enough to add decorative twine once the biscuits are baked. My second recipe is for all the chocolate lovers out there: a rich, biscuit-like brownie. Once the cake is baked, all you have to do is to cut into long triangles to form the shape of Christmas trees. Then get decorating with green icing and, of course, silver sugar pearls for some festive bling. Happy cooking, Kevin

Gingerbread Men

GINGERBREAD MEN

Ingredients (makes 30):

■ 175g soft brown sugar ■ 175g treacle ■ 2 tsp ground ginger ■ ½ tsp ground cinnamon ■ ½ tsp ground cloves ■ 175g butter

■ 1 egg ■ 600g plain flour ■ 2 tsp baking powder ■ 200g royal icing to decorate ■ 1-2 drops food colouring to decorate

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. 2. Place the sugar, treacle and spices into a small saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Remove from the heat and add in the butter. 3. Cool slightly and then add in the beaten egg. 4. Stir in the sifted flour and baking powder and combine. 5. Wrap the pastry and rest in the fridge for a couple of hours at the least, but preferably overnight. 6. When you are ready to make the gingerbread men, remove the pastry from the fridge and leave it for 10-15 minutes to come back to room temperature. 7. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. 8. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of approximately ¼ inch. 9. Cut out the biscuits using your gingerbread man cutter and place onto a greased baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes. 10. You can also make bears by pinching the ears of the gingerbread men or folding their hands. 11. Prepare some royal icing in a bowl, following the package instructions, and combine with the food colouring. 12. Using a piping bag with a small nozzle, decorate the biscuits, then add some sweets or chocolate drops. Thread some ribbon through the hole to present as a gift or hang on the Christmas tree.

Chocolate Christmas Trees

CHOCOLATE CHRISTMAS TREES

Ingredients (makes 10-12 trees) ■ 200g dark chocolate ■ 250g butter, softened ■ 250g caster sugar ■ 4 eggs ■ 130g plain flour ■ 100g royal icing to decorate ■ 1-2 drops green food colouring to decorate ■ 2-3 tsp silver sugar pearls to decorate

Method: 1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 22x22cm baking tray with greaseproof paper. 2. Next, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Once nearly melted, add the butter and stir until combined. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes. 3. Place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and beat using an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. 4. Very carefully, fold the chocolate into the the egg mixture, then sift in the flour. Mix with a spatula until no pockets of flour are left. 5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tray and spread in an even layer. 6. Bake for 18-20 minutes until just soft to the touch. Remove from the oven and set aside until fully cooled. 7. Next, prepare some royal icing in a bowl, following the package instructions, and combine with the food colouring. 8. Trim the edge of the brownie to obtain a neat rectangle, then cut into triangles for Christmas trees. Transfer onto a serving platter. 9. Using a piping bag with a small nozzle, decorate the brownies, then add some silver sugar pearls or sprinkles. 10. Leave aside until the icing is set. Store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

Kevin with the Christmas turkey

TOP TIP:YULE BE A FESTIVE FOODIE IN HO-HO-NO TIME WITH THIS ONLINE COOKING COURSE

DO you want to be a pro for Chrismas? Well, now you can with my online course. Packed with tutorials — from the best ham and perfect sides, to the most delicious desserts and canapes — I will give you the cooking confidence you need to entertain over the festive season. The course runs automatically, so you can start and stop in your own time. And you can even download and print all the recipes if you prefer to read along as you follow the instructions on the big day. For more info, check out kevindundon.com/courses.

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