Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Well, Christmas is over for another year. I’m always surprised by how enthusiastic I get about the day. We are fortunate here at Pilyara that we don’t have to go anywhere. The family comes to us. It means I prepare most of the food, but the trade-off is that we don’t have to pack up the car and drive for miles.

Xmas 2012 008My daughter H made a stunning assortment of Christmas cookies – real works of art. Here’s the very simple recipe for Christmas Truffles. They really are to die for!


  • 500g      light fruitcake, coarsely chopped
  • 100g      dark chocolate melts, melted
  • 60ml      (1/4 cup) brandy
  • 2 tbs      apricot jam
  • 250g      dark chocolate melts, extra
  • 60g      copha, chopped
  • 150g      white chocolate melts, melted
  • Red and      green glace cherries, finely chopped, to decorate (I used sprinkles in      holly leaf & berry shapes)
  1. Step 1

Place the cake in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the dark chocolate, brandy and jam. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or until slightly firm.

  1. Step 2

Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Stir the cake mixture. Roll 2-teaspoonful quantities of cake mixture into balls and place on the lined trays. Place in the fridge for 1 hour or until firm.

  1. Step 3

Place the extra dark chocolate and copha in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Cook on High/800watts/100% for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.

  1. Step 4

Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Use a truffle dipper or fork to dip 1 truffle in the chocolate mixture to coat. Remove truffle, tapping the dipper or fork on the side of the bowl to shake off excess chocolate. Place on 1 lined tray. Repeat with remaining truffles and chocolate mixture. Set aside to set.

  1. Step 5

Spoon the white chocolate into a small sealable plastic bag. Cut 1 corner from the bag to make a small hole. Drizzle a little white chocolate over each truffle. Top with glace cherry (or, in my case, sprinkles) to decorate. Set aside until set.

Xmas 2012 007My son M on the other hand, was in charge of the cheese platter. Not to be outdone, he made a fortress of cheese cubes with turrets of crackers, mortared together with hummous. An interesting creation!

The day was one of fun and family; a fantastic conclusion to an exciting year. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and my writing in 2012. I couldn’t have done it without you, and look forward to the continuing journey. Wishing you all a very happy, peaceful and productive New Year!

Man the Battlements!

My daughter H is building a gingerbread house with a difference. For starters, the biscuit mixture is sans spice, much to the horror perhaps of traditionalists. It turns out, my family simply prefers gingerbread without the ginger. But that is where the simplicity ends. This is much more than a house. It is a castle! She has built it on a Lego base, with turrets, arched windows and even a drawbridge.

H baked the walls yesterday, carefully measuring them to fit the base using a template made from a cocoa pops box. One of the walls was damaged overnight. Not sure how … boys and pets plead innocence. But clearly some form of enemy was abroad, because this morning, a side wall lay in three pieces. H wasn’t fazed. “It’s an authentic ruined castle,” she said, and calmly mortared it back together with icing.



And now it’s done! A work of art, I’m sure you’ll all agree. Lego archers, swordsmen and knights on horseback, defend their castle from a fearsome fire-breathing dragon perched on a biscuit battlement. Brilliant H. Absolutely brilliant. And a merry Christmas to all!