Christmas can be stressful if money is tight, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth. With a bit of planning you can create original handmade gifts and decorations that beat shop-bought hands down. Here are our top budget friendly Christmas treats.
1. Christmas cupcakes
Failsafe holiday entertainment and party fare. Cream 110g butter with the same of caster sugar, beat in 2 eggs, and add vanilla extract before folding in 110g self raising flour. Bake, cool and use fondant icing to make reindeer faces, Christmas trees, baubles, gift wrapped presents and snowflakes.
2. Snowflake truffles
These can be a bit rich for kids so go all out and add a drop of whisky for a grown-up treat. Bring 150ml of double cream to the boil, then stir in 100g good quality dark chocolate and leave in the fridge overnight. Scoop with a teaspoon, roll into balls then coat with coconut flakes and dust with icing sugar.
Who wouldn’t love a box of crunchy, chewy macaroons for Christmas? Whizz together 175g icing sugar and 125g ground almonds. Whisk 110g egg whites (it’s best to weigh them) and gradually add 75g caster sugar with flavouring and colouring to make a glossy meringue. Fold together, then pipe into small rounds and bake for 15 mins. Fill with ganache or butter icing.
4. Gingerbread tree decorations
Save on pricey tree chocolates by making some edible decorations of your own. Melt sugar, golden syrup, ground ginger and butter then stir in plain flour to form a dough. Cool, roll and cut into festive shapes, make a small hole at the top and bake. Thread with red and green ribbon.
5. ‘Candy’ canes
These aren’t traditional pulled candy but look the part and are great for small fingers to make. Take equal amounts of red and white fondant icing and roll into 5mm snakes. Twist them around each other then cut to size and shape into canes and leave to dry.
6. Mince pies
Christmas treats just aren’t complete without an endless supply. With ready rolled pastry and a jar of mincemeat it’s an easy assembly job for kids. You could go pro and make your own mincemeat, but a good compromise is adding extra peel and dried fruit or nuts to your favourite brand.
7. Stained glass cookies
These are easy peasy to make but look like works of art. Make a basic biscuit dough, roll and cut into Christmas shapes. Cut out the centres then carefully fill with crushed boiled sweets and skewer a small hole if you want to hang them up. Bake for 10 minutes or until the biscuits are golden and the sweets bubbling then leave to cool.
These jewelled biscuits make a lovely grown-up gift. Melt 25g butter together with an equal amount of flour and 75g sugar. Stir in 75g of double cream or crème fraiche and add in glace cherries, candied peel, flaked almonds and stem ginger. Bake carefully spaced teaspoonfuls for 10-12 minutes or until brown, then cool. Coat the underside in melted chocolate before leaving to set.
9. Salted caramel fudge
Gently heat a can of condensed milk along with sugar, glucose syrup, golden syrup and butter. Boil to around 115C or until it forms a ball if you drop a little into cold water. Pour into a greased, lined brownie tin and sprinkle with sea salt flakes, then refrigerate until set. Pack into pretty boxes with festive ribbon.
10. Choc and nut biscotti
Baking these classic biscuits twice gives them the crunchy texture perfect for dipping. Beat eggs and sugar until fluffy, then fold in flour, baking powder, hazelnuts or walnuts and chocolate chips. Shape the dough into a log, roll to 3cm and bake for 30 mins until almost firm. Cut into slices and bake again for a further 10-15 minutes until crisp.
Share your favourite recipes for Christmas treats below, we’d love to hear from you!