Around this time everyone has got a pressing responsibility. This is so important that the choice you make here could set out the mood for your relationship with that person for the year to come. There are list and guilds telling us how to do it; where should we go and what should we do. You would think with all this press, we would not have so much anxiety round it right? WRONG
The thing I am taking about is Christmas shopping or Gift shopping for your co-workers, friends and loved ones. Even though Christmas gift time is meant to be about find gifts with heart, more often than not they are gifts with a price tag (the bigger the better). I know taking the cynical view of gift giving is easy, what with everyone shouting “consumerism has corrupted our society”…
Yawn, get a new slogan haters.
I am not troubled by the pricing fact of gift giving but the gender bias of gifts that occurs every year on the MUST HAVES FOR CHRISTMAS (In Australia we have already got full articles in the new paper about it)
Every year it seems to go like this; guys trendy techno wear, games and urban yuppie leather goods
Girls: designer clothes, jewellery and maybe the “feminised version” of a techno gadget. There are even sections for the mums and dads out there with mature aged sport wear, kitchen gadgets, crystals and things that remind them of their younger days (e.g novelty cars, model air plans etc.)
Now I think we need to update this list of to go to gifts. More importantly we need set what is a good gift and what is bad gift.
If you are boyfriend or husband; DO NOT get your wife a vacuum cleaner or to add insult to injury a dish washing kit. I think a lot of women can relate to this gift giving no-no.
If you are girlfriend or wife; DO NOT think that a he needs you to be his mother and pick our his clothes for him ( as much as it pains you too see his style); boy do not like clothes as gifts.
For the relatives from far away; Please do not get chocolates for them, they probably have been given 6 boxes of it by your other relatives too. This goes for shortbread too.
For the kids, this is easy. Go for your life kids! Get anything you want! As long as it is not dead animal or something along those gross lines you are all set! If I can recall the gifts I use to give as a kid; oh the shame of giving the multi coloured chalk dust in a bottle for Christmas and the poorly handmade towel; Parents are lovely people aren’t they?
But the most important rule of all to follow is: Give from your heart. If you have honestly put a lot of thought it into your gift, it shows. You can’t write a guild on this but trust in yourself and your gift will be great
Like the faith we put into gift giving, I feel the same way about new cookie flavour combos.
In the middle of night we brain storm, we try it out and hope for the best. I am not a huge fan of fruit, nut and chocolate combos in cookies (the chewy dried fruit gets stuck in between my teeth); I really think figs are different. They are so soft! Which I only recently discovered after my parents purchased dried figs from cost co. They were like Taffy but with an edge of fruit tartness, seriously how could I have not eaten these before?
Yes dried figs are not as pretty as their fresh counter parts but they work wonderfully in cookies; namely these ones which have crusty exterior and thick chewy interior; laced with chunks of diced fig, walnut and dark chocolate. The bitterness of the walnuts work to balance the sweetness of figs and dark chocolate. The hint of salt in the batter is a nice addition too
I love this cookie base. It is an adapted version the Momofuku bar cookie which is a brilliantly buttery cookie as it is, so it not hard to make it taste good in my opinion. Now I just throwing out there, what could be more lovely than a plate full of these cookies when guest drop by this season; really the only more welcoming sight in the kitchen would be cake.
Fig, walnut and dark chocolate cookies
Adapted from the Momofuku bar Corn flake cookies ( I like the freezing process for a high butter biscuit)
Makes 45 small cookies
100g brown sugar
150g caster sugar
1 egg plus one yolk
60g caramel sauce
2tsp vanilla extract
7g baking powder
3g baking soda
100g diced dried figs
150g dark chocolate chunk
50g chopped walnuts
60g ground walnuts
150g plain flour
50g bread flour
Shift flours, ground walnuts baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.
Cream butter and two sugars in a large bowl until very light and creamy (8 mintures)
Add vanilla, salt, egg and caramel; beat again until it is as fluffy as before.
With a mixer on low add the flour mixture. Mix for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl. Mix for 30 seconds again.
Using a wooden spoon fold in figs, walnuts and dark chocolate.
On two large baking trays, lining with greaseproof paper and place teaspoon sized ball on to trays. Cover with cling wrap and freeze for at least one day (I find it just better the longer you leave it in the freezer).
Pre heat oven to 190c. Leave large gaps (5cm) between each dough ball. Bake for 15-18 minutes. They may seem soft but it will harden on cooling. Leave to cool on trays.