I could not have been happier when Erin and Kate proposed a blog tour for a group of children’s books bloggers to talk about the delicious treats found within the covers of MG Fiction, and invited me to take part. I had, that very evening, started writing a review of this year’s must-read festive publication: The Christmas Carrolls by Mel Taylor-Bessent which you can read here.
For me, one of the loveliest aspects of Christmas is preparing and sharing food with friends and family; the Carroll family in Mel Taylor-Bessent’s fabulously festive book certainly appear to have the same mindset! There are mouth-watering descriptions of mince pies, hot chocolate, Christmas cake, snowball sundaes, candy canes and turkey sandwiches, you can practically taste the warmth of the mixed spice and smell the astringent sage as you read. I have to draw the line at gravy on chocolate cake, however! I asked Mel about her own favourite Christmas food and this was her reply:
Inspired by Holly’s mum presenting Archer with a box of mince pies and a recipe for the Carroll family’s famous hot chocolate as a thank you for taking care of Holly on her first day at school, I decided to try to recreate these enticing treats. So, here are my recipes for Christmas Carroll Chocolat Chaud and Mum’s Mince Pies!
Christmas Carroll Chocolat Chaud
1 cup of milk
2-3 heaped teaspoons hot chocolate powder
Squirty cream/whipped cream
Sprinkles/grated chocolate/mini marshmallows
Heat the milk in a saucepan, the microwave or an electric milk frother so that it is hot but not boiling.
Use a little of the hot milk to dissolve the hot chocolate powder and then stir in the rest of the milk.
Add whipped cream or squirty cream and any combination of toppings; sprinkles, grated chocolate, cinnamon, mini marshmallows or candy canes according to taste.
Perfect as a warming treat after a hard day at school or a brisk walk in the autumn/winter frost and snow.
Mum’s Mince Pies
1 pack ready-made puff pastry (you can, of course make your own puff pastry. I learnt the technique in school Home Economics lessons and it’s fun but very time-consuming!)
400g jar mincemeat
A little milk
A sprinkle of icing sugar
Cut block of pastry into two and roll out one of the pieces to a thickness of 3mm
Cut 12 discs with a round cookie cutter and place in a well-buttered patty tin
Prickle the bases with a fork, then pile a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat into each of the pastry bases
Roll out the second half of the pastry and use any shaped cookie cutter to make the lids of your mince pies, I like to use a star
Place on top of the mincemeat and brush the tops with a little milk
Bake in a pre-heated oven, 200°C (gas 6) for approx 15 mins, until golden
Serve warm with a dusting of icing sugar
If you wish to attempt other seasonal recipes inspired by Nick, Snow, Holly and Ivy Carroll, head to the resources page on Mel’s website, where amongst a host of activities, you will find downloadable recipe cards for Grotto Cakes, Ice Cakes and Christmallows. These would make a wonderful end of term activity at school or Christmas holiday activity at home for young bakers.
I hope that this post has given you some yuletide inspiration and that you will enjoy the festive season in whichever way you choose to celebrate, hopefully accompanied by family, friends, a great book and something tasty to eat.
Do check out the other stops on the tour for more foodie fun from the wide world of children’s literature!