Biscuit Christmas Tree

Biscuit Christmas Tree by The Fat Foodie

The chatter about Christmas has been well upon us since the start of October, so it’s given me quite a lot of time to think about what I like to cook around Christmastime. I tend to always make a Christmas  cake at the end of November, albeit a FODMAP friendly version that’s very light on the dried fruit, but not everyone enjoys fruit cake so it’s nice to have an alternative to hand when people come to visit, such as this biscuit Christmas tree.

Initially, this bake might look complicated, but I can assure you, it really isn’t. It’s just layers of decorated biscuit that are stacked on top of one another. I cut my star templates out of different sizes of card and just cut out my biscuit shapes with a knife before transferring them onto a greaseproof-papered baking tray, but you can actually buy star-shaped biscuit cutters in varying sizes that will cut out the different sized biscuits to make this tree.

I really like the visual impact of this stunning biscuit Christmas tree which makes it a real dessert centre point for the dining table after a family meal, but it also tastes great too. The chocolate biscuits are generously decorated with rich dark chocolate, so you really feel as though you’re eating a proper chocolate biscuit and the fruity Skittle ‘baubles’ which adorn the tips of the tree’s ‘branches’ make every mouthful taste like fruity chocolate.

The additional Maltesers which hold each level of the tree up from one another also add a delicious crunch to the biscuit layers, but because Maltesers aren’t vegan you could use vegan marshmallows if you’d prefer. Also Maltesers aren’t gluten-free because they’re made from barley, so although you might get away with eating a couple if you’re on the low FODMAP diet, if you’re celiac you’ll need to use an alternative sweetie, such as marshmallows, to hold the biscuit levels up. Let’s not kid the troops, my friends, this biscuit Christmas tree isn’t the healthiest thing you could eat, but it’s certainly a lovely festive treat to have at Christmastime!

Ingredients:

200g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)

100g custard powder

100g caster sugar

A pinch of salt

2 tbsps of cocoa powder

140g butter (or coconut oil)

1-2 tbsps water

For decoration:

100g dark chocolate

A bag of Skittles

A large bag of Maltesers (or vegan marshmallows)

Method:

Cut out six paper star templates, ranging from large to small and keep to one side. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Melt your butter and then simply put all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix it all together.

Add as much water as necessary to bring the mixture together into a firm dough and chill in the fridge for an hour.

Once the dough is cold, roll it out between two sheets of greaseproof paper until it is around half a centimetre thick.

Using your templates or star-shaped biscuit cutters, cut out your stars and place them on the baking trays. (You might need to re-roll the biscuit dough to get enough dough to cut out all of the stars.)

Important note! The biscuits are very delicate when they’re freshly baked, but they go hard once they’re cool, so leave them to completely cool down on the baking trays before you remove them.

Bake in the oven for 12-14 mins and then leave them to cool on the baking trays until they are completely cold.

Once they’re cold decorate them with melted chocolate and Skittles and place three Maltesers or vegan marshmallows in the centre of the five largest biscuits.

Once the chocolate has hardened, stack the biscuits on top of each other, from the largest to the smallest, and serve.

Biscuit Christmas Tree by The Fat Foodie

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Gingerbread People (makes 12-14)

Gingerbread People by The Fat Foodie

At Christmas time you can’t beat munching delicious gender-neutral biscuit gingerbread people. I just love the fragrant Christmassy warmth that ginger brings to biscuit dough. I might be a bit odd in this respect, but I don’t like my gingerbread to be really hard. There’s nothing worse than hurting your gums on a piece of overly-hard biscuit, so I much prefer a gentle, crumblier, but still robust biscuit texture. This is achieved by using custard powder in the mix, which also adds a vanilla flavour to the gingerbread people.

Gingerbread men date back centuries, to the extent that Elizabeth I served them to her guests way back in the 16th century, and their appeal has never waned. I like the fact that they’ve become synonymous with Christmas now though and I never fail to smile when I see them for sale.

However, they’re actually really easy to make yourself, requiring little more than mixing a biscuit dough, baking it and decorating the gingerbread people with whatever sweeties you fancy. I think they’re particularly great to bake with children because kids never fail to love making their own version of how they think the gingerbread people should look.

These gingerbread people are gluten-free and dairy-free and they’re delicious. They have just the right amount of ginger in them and their texture is not too hard, but delightfully crisp. I chose to decorate mine with dark chocolate because I’m a chocolate fiend, but you can just use icing sugar if you’d prefer, and you can top them with whatever sweeties you think will work best. They’re just the perfect little people for biting the heads off.

Ingredients:

200g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)

100g custard powder

1 tsp xanthan gum

70g brown sugar

30g golden syrup

A pinch of salt

1 tbsp of dried ginger

140g coconut oil (or butter)

1-2 tbsps water

For decoration:

100g dark chocolate or icing

Sweeties, such as gum drops or Smarties (I used Skittles)

Method:

Have a gingerbread person cutter at hand and keep to one side.

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6 and put greaseproof paper on a baking tray.

Melt your coconut oil and then simply put all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix it all together.

Add as much water as is necessary to bring the mixture together into a dough and chill in the fridge for an hour.

Once the dough is cold, roll it out between two sheets of greaseproof paper until it is around half a centimetre thick.

Cut out your gingerbread people and place them on the baking tray.

Bake in the oven for 12-14 mins and then leave them to cool on the baking tray until they are completely cold.

Once they’re cold decorate them with piped melted chocolate (disposable piping bags are really useful) or icing and sweeties.

Gingerbread People by The Fat Foodie

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Mexican Bean Burritos (serves 4)

Mexican Bean Burritos by The Fat Foodie

I’ve been going through a Mexican food phase at the moment, not just because it’s very tasty, but also because it’s a type of cuisine that’s really easy to adapt to make it low FODMAP. Beans and legumes generally get a bad rap in the FODMAP world because they’re high in Oligos-GOS and fructans and can cause digestive issues for a lot of people, but many forms of beans are actually low FODMAP as long as you stick to the recommended serving size. That’s why these Mexican bean burritos are actually low FODMAP.

I’ve used tinned butter beans (aka lima beans) in my Mexican bean burritos because they’re great at soaking up flavours and as long as you stick to a portion size of 35g of butter beans per person they remain low FODMAP. Beans are packed full of nutrition, being chock full of iron, dietary fibre, protein and a myriad of vitamins and minerals, so it makes sense to try to incorporate them into our diets wherever we can.

These Mexican bean burritos are incredibly easy to make, requiring nothing more than throwing the ingredients into a saucepan and heating it through. The bean burrito filling also lasts for a good couple of days in the fridge so it’s perfect for making filled tortilla wraps to take for lunches and such like. I served my Mexican bean burritos in soft, warm corn tortillas with a small portion of guacamole (a 20g serving is low FODMAP) and non-dairy sour cream with chives on the side, but they’re delicious even without any additions.

Ingredients:

1 yellow pepper (diced)

1 red pepper (diced)

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsps dried oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

1 small tin of drained & rinsed butter beans (140g drained weight)

1 tin of chopped tomatoes (juice drained off)

1 pouch of long grain microwaveable rice (250g)

8 corn tortillas

Method:

Place all of your ingredients in a large saucepan and heat through.

Once hot, taste and season if necessary before serving wrapped in the tortillas alongside grated cheese, jalepenos, salsa, guacamole etc.

Mexican Bean Burritos by The Fat Foodie

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Chocolate Mousse (serves 6)

Chocolate Mousse by The Fat Foodie

I’ve fancied making homemade chocolate mousse for a long time, but the thought of making an egg based version has never appealed to me. Many chocolate mousse recipes call for raw or barely cooked eggs to be used to provide silkiness to the mousse, but I can’t stomach the idea of eating raw eggs. However, I’ve heard that vegans frequently use tofu to create a smooth chocolate mousse, so when I was in the supermarket I picked up a pack of plain tofu so I could give it a go.

Silken tofu is a high FODMAP ingredient so don’t use that form of tofu to make this pudding, but as long as you only use either plain or firm tofu this recipe remains low FODMAP. In order to make a super smooth chocolate mousse I’d recommend using a food processor or NutriBullet because they whip the ingredients together and ensure a really creamy result, but if you don’t have either of these just mix it very thoroughly in a large bowl and it will be fine.

This chocolate mousse is really rich, so I’d recommend making 6 small portions. In fact, the little green cup you see in the photograph is actually an espresso cup, but it makes the perfect portion size for these chocolate mousses because I think a larger portion would be too much.

I’m really tempted to add 1/2 a teaspoon of ground ginger or cinnamon next time I make these (and it won’t be long until I do!) because I think it would really enhance the chocolate flavour of the mousse. It would also be lovely served with some delicate biscuits on the side, such as little pieces of shortbread. Overall, this chocolate mousse is a seriously rich and wonderfully light dairy-free chocolate pudding that will fool anyone who thinks it’s made with eggs or cream. It’s the ideal little treat to end a meal with.

Ingredients:

300g plain tofu

180g cocoa powder

120g sugar

100ml rice milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

Have 6 ramekins or small serving dishes to hand.

Place all of the ingredients in your food processor or NutriBullet and pulse until it forms a smooth liquid. If you don’t have either then just whip it by hand in a large bowl.

Pour the mixture into your ramekins and put them in the fridge to set for at least half an hour before serving.

Chocolate Mousse by The Fat Foodie

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Empire Biscuits (makes 14)

Empire Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

Empire biscuits are very popular in Britain, particularly in Scotland, but they actually originated in Germany and were known as ‘Linzer biscuits’ and ‘Deutsch biscuits’. After World War One, in Britain their name was changed to ‘Empire biscuits’ and that’s how they’ve stayed ever since. In Ireland instead of serving them topped with a glacé cherry they decorate theirs with a sprinkling of desiccated coconut, which I think sounds delicious!

Empire biscuits are a great low FODMAP biscuit option because their structure is comprised of  shortbread (which is really easy to make gluten-free and remains tasty) and the toppings are FODMAP friendly too, so you can’t go wrong with them really. Also, if a single halved glacé cherry would cause you issues then you could use the desiccated coconut option to decorate them instead.

I added a teaspoon of lemon extract to my biscuit dough because I think that the sharp, zingy lemon oil provides a delicious contrast with the sweet taste of the strawberry jam, but it’s entirely optional and if you choose to leave it out of your empire biscuits they won’t suffer in the taste department at all.

These low FODMAP empire biscuits are very easy to make and don’t require much time at all to produce, but they’re very rewarding in taste due to their crisp, sweet, buttery shortbread rounds that are generously sandwiched between good quality strawberry jam and topped with soft, sweet icing sugar. It’s no wonder they’re so popular throughout the country!

Ingredients for the biscuits:

100g cornflour

150g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)

95g icing sugar

125g butter (or non-dairy alternative)

1 tsp lemon extract (optional)

2 tbsps cold water

To decorate:

Strawberry jam

100g icing sugar

7 halved glacé cherries (or desiccated coconut)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper and have a rolling pin and a round biscuit cutter at hand.

Place all of the biscuit ingredients (except the water) in a mixing bowl and rub the ingredients together until it has the texture of fine sand.

Add the water and form a smooth dough.

Roll the biscuit dough out on a clean work surface and cut out an even number of biscuits.

Place the biscuits on a greaseproofed baking tray and bake them in the oven for 12-15 mins or until they are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Put your icing sugar in a small bowl and add a little water at a time to make a thick icing for decorating your biscuits.

Once the biscuits are cool, spread strawberry jam onto half of the biscuits and coat the other half of the biscuits in icing sugar and top them with either a glacé cherry or a sprinkling of desiccated coconut.

Once the icing has set, sandwich the biscuits together and serve.

Empire Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

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