Time for some Christmas recipes - but don’t just save these ones for the festive season. These mincemeat squares are delicious with coffee or tea at any time and handy for using up the jar of mincemeat that is gathering dust in the kitchen cupboard! The cheese snacks are perfect to serve with a winter warmer but just as nice with a chilled glass of wine on a summer’s evening and, of course, home-made chocolates make a very special gift or the perfect end to any celebratory meal. But just for now, I hope you enjoy these recipes this Christmas. EL
Swiss Cheese Crumbles

A delicious cake to share at teatime after a long walk or, serve warm with clotted cream for a rich and delectable dessert.

90g butter, cold
170g plain flour
2 tsps dry mustard powder
black pepper
225g finely grated Gruyère or Emmental cheese
2 egg yolks
paprika, to finish


Preheat the oven to 200ºC / Gas 6. Lightly grease a 20 x 36 cm shallow baking tray and line with greaseproof paper.

Mix the flour and mustard with a good grind of black pepper. Cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour mixture so that you have a rough, lumpy crumble mix. Stir in the finely grated cheese and add the egg yolks. Mix with a fork, then using the finger tips, work the mixture so that it just begins to bind but has not formed a dough.

Tip the crumbly mixture into the prepared baking tray and gently spread into the corners. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool before sprinkling with a little paprika. Break into rough pieces to serve.
Dark Chocolate Almonds

Lightly toast 100g blanched whole almonds - taking care not to burn them! Melt 100g really dark chocolate (70% plus) in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir in the almonds to cover with the chocolate. Lift each chocolate covered almond out and place on a parchment-lined tray. Place somewhere cool until the chocolate has hardened. Serve with coffee or present in a gift box, bag or tin as a simple but lovely gift.
Spiced Mincemeat Squares (Makes 12 - 16 squares)

These delicately spiced mincemeat squares are so easy to make. They require no rubbing in, rolling or cutting out and make a nice change from traditional mince pies.

225g wholewheat flour
100g porridge oats
1½ tsps ground cinnamon
1½ tsps mixed spice
150g butter
75g soft brown sugar
225g jar mincemeat
icing sugar, to finish


Heat the oven to 200ºC / Gas 6. Grease and line a shallow baking tin (approx. 22 x 22 cm). If you have a loose-based one, that is helpful.

Mix together the flour, oats and spices. Heat the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over a gentle heat. When the sugar has melted, remove from the heat and gradually mix well into the dry ingredients.

Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin and press down firmly making sure that it covers the whole tin. You do not need a light touch here as the firmer you press the mixture down the easier it will be to cut into slices when cooked. Spread the mincemeat evenly over the base, then sprinkle the remaining oat mixture on top, covering as much of the mincemeat as possible.

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, loosely covering the top with a piece of foil if it begins to get too brown. Cool then cut into squares. Dredge with icing sugar before serving.