Christmas is 100 percent all about kids…and I love that! Once Halloween was done and dusted every waking hour (and I’m sure a lot of dreamtime) has been dedicated to the excitement of Christmas. Our Halloween decorations were up in September and Christmas decorations up since October! My kids are obsessed (yes even the little 16 month old is getting into it and starts screaming with joy when he spots the Elf on the Shelf every morning). Even before having my own, Christmas was just so much better when the little nephews and nieces were there running around, full of sugar, pulling the chocolate decorations off the tree and beyond excited about their new toys from Santa.
During the weekend we had my husband’s work’s family Christmas party. It was at the one and only theme park we have here in New Zealand, and yes it is pretty lame compared to Disneyland, but it was still a pretty sweet place for a kids’ Christmas party. When I was little I remember Dad’s work’s parties as a little picnic at the park with sack races and if we were lucky a dude dressed as Santa with an ill-fitting fake sheepskin beard who would do a lolly scramble throwing out jaw breaking Macintosh lollies (that I really didn’t like but still desperately grabbed for during the hype and adrenalin of the lolly scramble). Not only did the kids have the theme park all to themselves they also got the most amazing present from Santa. This was put on for all 1300 kids of the company. Quite. amazing. This wasn’t enough for my three year old son who had to pick up on the fact Santa used different wrapping paper to the present he got at his daycare Christmas party – it was fun trying to talk my way out of that one….and this morning when my husband left their Christmas presents on the dining table which I had been so carefully hiding for weeks. Seriously?!
All this Christmas hype for the kids is wonderful but sometimes I think we need a little grown up Christmas treat. Actually I think it is a necessity this time of year, and of course it must involve booze right? Big egg nog fan right here. Enter my grown up’s gingerbread man, a.k.a. mini Gingerbread Loaves with Brandy Cream Cheese Frosting. Moist, spicy gingerbread loaves with mounds of creamy cream cheese frosting with hints of orange and a big hit of brandy piled on top. I love to make them in little one person loaves (actually if you’re not a complete guts like me then they probably are best for 2-3 people each) because they look super cute but don’t go out and buy a mini-loaf tin if you don’t have one, if you’re like me then you’re probably already haemorrhaging money this time of year, just use a regular loaf tin then either ice the top of the whole loaf or what is also quite fun is to slice it up and ice each slice. I am going to say that the brandy is essential, this is a non-optional ingredient in my opinion my friends but if you really really have to do without it, then just remove it from the recipe…and I guess I’ve forgive you.
Only 11 days ’til Christmas…eeek!
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- pinch salt
- 115g/4oz unsalted butter
- ½ cup caster sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup golden syrup
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 250g/9oz cream cheese, softened
- 50g/1.7oz unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup icing (powdered) sugar
- 2½ Tbsp brandy
- zest ½ orange
- 1-2 store-bought gingersnap or gingerbread biscuits
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F on fan-bake. Grease an 8 hole mini-loaf tin.
- In a large bowl whisk together flour, ginger, mixed spice and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan mix together the butter, caster sugar, brown sugar and golden syrup. Heat over low heat until the butter and sugars are melted. Remove from the heat.
- Place the milk in a small bowl and mix through the baking soda. Add this mixture to the saucepan and mix until well combined. The mixture will froth a little.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.
- Evenly distribute between the loaf tins and place in the oven for approximately 15-20 min or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the loaves.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack.
- While the loaves are cooling, make the frosting.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream together the cream cheese and butter until well combined. Add the icing sugar slowly to prevent it spilling then increase the speed to high to beat the frosting for about 8 minutes until light, pale and creamy.
- Reduce the speed to low, add the brandy and orange and beat until combined.
- Place frosting in a piping bag with a round tip, or in a ziplock bag with the corner cut off. Alternatively, just use a knife or spatula to spread the frosting on top of the loaves. Pipe the frosting on the loaves then crumble over 1-2 store-bought gingersnap or gingerbread biscuits.
- Loaves will keep un-frosted in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days. Loaves are best eaten on the day they are frosted.