Petite Christmas Puddings

THIRD YEAR ENGLISH LITERATURE STUDENT, NIA, SHARES HER FRIEND’S RECIPE FOR PETITE CHRISTMAS PUDDINGS…

Last year my housemate, Francesca, had this amazing idea of making individual Christmas puddings (does a big one ever get finished?) and putting cocoa powder in them as, let’s face it, regular Christmas pudding isn’t always a fan favourite. So I’ve carefully shadowed her, written up the recipe and voila! Now you too can provide your housemates with festive cheer – and puddings for days!

 

Ingredients:
280g Caster Sugar
80g Unsalted Butter
2 Eggs
200g Plain Flour
40g Cocoa Powder
2tsp Baking Powder
100ml Milk
100g Raisins
30g Chopped Walnuts
50g Chopped Cranberries

 

Icing:

275g Royal Icing Sugar

8tsp Cold Water

 

Makes 12 puddings.

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160° C/320° F/Gas Mark 3 and line a 12 hole muffin tray using butter to grease each hole.
  2. Blend together the sugar and butter in a bowl using an electric whisk or mixer.
  3. Beat the eggs together then slowly whisk them into the mixture.
  4. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and continue mixing.
  5. Next, pour in the milk, also doing this slowly, and whisk until it reaches a creamy consistency.
  6. Add the raisins, walnuts and chopped cranberries and envelope them in (saving some of the cranberries for decoration).
  7. Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin tray and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until there is no residue left on a knife once inserted into them.
  8. Carefully remove the puddings from the tray and leave to cool before icing.
  9. For the icing, slowly mix together the icing sugar with 8 tablespoons of cold water to create a thick consistency.
  10. Teaspoon the icing onto the smaller side of the puddings, adding a little bit at a time so that it gently drips down the sides. Make sure not to heap too much icing on top as you won’t be able to achieve the dripping effect. For extra decoration, place the leftover mixed cranberries on top of each pudding for the leaves of the puddings.

8 Tips for Making the Most of the Christmas Break

THIRD YEAR PSYCHOLOGY STUDENT, KATE, SHARES HER ADVICE FOR MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY…

You are probably thinking let me just enjoy the break full of food and fun? Solid advice, but do make the most of your break so you return in January the most rested and productive student on the earth with these top tips…

 

  1. Organization:
  • It’s always best to get ahead before going home. Get organized with your notes, assignments and your timetable – what do you need to do? Make sure you have you the right text books so this doesn’t hold you back. Put your spring timetable into a diary and organize your life around lectures and the deadlines you know.
    Work/Life Balance is Key. Planning = happy student

 

  1. Christmas Celebrations:
  • Keep Christmas celebrations on the 24th to 26th and New Years Eve completely university free. You need a break and to celebrate with your family enjoying all the festivities.
  • Make time for family and enjoy being home. They will want to hear all about your term and if you’re going to get them to do your washing the least you can do is hang out with them.

 

  1. Academic Work:
  • Some people prefer blocked days and others prefer a few hours a day. Work out what is best for you and plan it, but don’t over work yourself – little and often method works well in the holidays. Don’t forget to reward yourself for getting your work done; whether this is an extra Christmas chocolate or an extra night at the pub, it’s vital!

 

  1. Catch up with friends from home.
  • Pretty much everyone you went to school with will be home so make sure you reconnect with your friends as sometimes it’s hard to keep in contact in term time.

 

  1. Jobs
  • Earn a little extra money.
    You may or may not be in your overdraft; either way earning a little money over the Christmas period is never a bad thing. Christmas is a great time to get CV experience, paid or volunteering.

 

  1. Future Jobs:
  • Depending on your year, you might be looking at graduate schemes or internships. Christmas is the perfect time to sit down for a few hours and apply, research and apply some more.
  • Revamp your resume and keep your documents UPDATED!
    Opportunity knocks the moment you’re least expecting it so it’s always best to be prepared. Christmas is the perfect time to update all your important documents with your latest experiences.

 

  1. Wellbeing
  • Exercise: Stay healthy and combat holiday bulge by keeping up with a regular exercise regimen. You’ll feel better for it.
  • Catch up on sleep: Uni is exhausting and late nights doing work or clubbing can really take its toll. While you’ve got a break, enjoy the lie ins for a while, then try and establish a sleep routine ready for those January 9ams.

 

  1. RELAX
  • Do things that make you happy! You deserve a break after your hard work this term and need to be rested before going back for another jam-packed term!
    Whether its films, food, sleep or adventure, find what works for you!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – Bring on 2018.

Rebecca’s Christmas Fudge Recipes

SECOND YEAR ACCOUNTING AND BUSINESS STUDENT, REBECCA, SHARES HER FESTIVE FUDGE RECIPES…

 

When thinking about Christmas inspired recipes, I came to the realisation that just about anything indulgent and comforting, to me, counts as a Christmas food! Aside from the classic roast dinners and mince pies, at this time of year anything warming or laden with chocolate has me feeling festive. Here I have two fudge recipes, the first adapted from the side of carnation condensed milk tin, you can literally buy all these ingredients in the Co-op on campus, making it super easy. The second recipe is slightly healthier, I found this recipe somewhere online last year and have adapted it using cacao powder rather than cocoa to be even more chocolatey, I make it far too often and I always switch up my toppings.

Simple Carnation Fudge

Ingredients:

1 can of condensed milk (I always use carnation which is just less than 400g)

150ml milk

450g Demerara sugar

115g butter

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients into a large pan, preferably non-stick, this makes it so much easier (especially washing up afterward)
  2. Melt over a low heat, until all the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring continuously. (warning: the fudge will be very hot)
  3. Drop a small amount of the mixture into a jug of very cold water, a soft ball of fudge should form if the mixture is ready. If not allow to simmer for a couple more minutes and test again.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, and vigorously beat the mixture for around 10 minutes, until the fudge becomes thick and starts to set. (this is a great arm workout, and will burn so many calories you can eat another piece!)
  5. Place into a lined tinned, and set in the fridge until firm. At this point you can add toppings of your choice, such as: crushed nuts, a layer of melted chocolate, a drizzle of peanut butter or sea salt.

Healthy Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients:

1 cup pitted dates

½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

½ ground almonds

¼ cocoa/cacao powder

a couple of tbsp. water

pinch of salt

[if you don’t have a cup measurement, use any standard mug, ensuring the ratios of all ingredients remain the same, you may need to add more/less water].

Method:

  1. In a food processor, combine the dates and tahini, until it forms a paste
  2. Add the almond flour and cacao until completely combined
  3. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, until it forms a ball, and does not stick to you hands
  4. Place into a lined tinned, and set in the freezer until firm. At this point you can add toppings of your choice, such as: crushed nuts, a layer of melted chocolate, a drizzle of peanut butter or sea salt.

How I’m Spending My Christmas Break

3RD YEAR THEATRE ARTS, EDUCATION AND DEAF STUDIES STUDENT, ALEXANDER, SHARES HIS PLANS FOR THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY…

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of term! Now it’s time to spend four weeks relaxing, catching up on sleep, making some headway with course work and of course celebrating the Christmas and New Year period!

I’m looking forward to going back to Norfolk, where my family live and seeing the new house my parents live in. I’ll probably spend most of my evenings sitting by the wood burning stove watching films. Amongst course work for all those January deadlines, I hope to start looking at opportunities for next year, as I’m in my final year and have those scary decisions to make! It became apparent during the lecture for my careers module the other day, that the Christmas holidays is actually a really good time to start looking into options, depending on what you want to do.

I definitely don’t plan to be working flat out though, as after a busy term, I am looking forward to spending quality time with family and friends, preparing for Christmas and celebrating my 21st birthday, followed by my brother’s birthday a few days later. Christmas is one of my favourite times of year, so I’m look forward to several celebrations with the family, due to some of the family living in other parts of the country. I love decorating the house with Christmas decorations, and using my creative skills to help my parents do it in an artistic way; normally I do the tree.

As I’m on a tight budget for Christmas presents this year, I will probably make as many presents as I can and buy the rest cheaply. Making presents yourself can save a lot of money! Homemade truffles have gone down well in the past. I really enjoy making Christmas cards, so will probably make some this year. Due to my parents living in a different part of Norfolk now, I’m looking forward to exploring areas of the county I don’t know and meeting new people. I’m hoping to visit the local Deaf centre, because not only is it fun and great for meeting new people, it also useful for my course. I’m planning to get a Christmas Elf job, or something in retail, to help me save up for next term!

In terms of Christmas celebrations, my family normally open stockings in the morning, before breakfast (including Pain au Chocolat and other pastries!) then go to church, have Christmas dinner, open the main presents and then watch the Queen’s Speech and sometimes play board games. Boxing Day, we normally see family that we didn’t see on Christmas Day.

Hope you all have a lovely break, wherever you go and whatever you do, and if you’re staying in Reading, I’m sure you will have a good time! Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018!

Nia’s Festive Biscuits

 

THIRD YEAR ENGLISH LITERATURE STUDENT, NIA, SHARES HER CHRISTMAS RECIPE FOR FESTIVE BISCUITS…

Even though we’ve all secretly been celebrating since the 1st of November, it is now becoming a socially acceptable time to spread Christmas cheer! So this week I am sharing a simple Christmas biscuit recipe, suitable for bulk-making for work parties, to celebrate the end of the university term with your flat mates or even to create with younger brothers and sisters. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:
350g Plain Flour
100g Self-raising Flour
125g Granulated Sugar
125g Unsalted Butter
3tbsp Honey
1 large Egg
1tbsp Maple Syrup

 

Decorations:
Icing sugar
Green food dye
Dark Chocolate
White Chocolate
Pre-bought sweets

 

Makes 32 biscuits.

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/356°F/Gas Mark 4 and line a tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Combine the plain flour, self-raising flour and the sugar in a bowl and stir well. Next add the butter, mixing the ingredients together with your fingers to create a crumbly texture.
  3. Create a hole in the centre of the mixture and add the honey, egg and maple syrup. Using your hands, combine the ingredients together to create a dough.
  4. With any left-over flour, lightly dust a surface and roll out the dough using a rolling pin until it is roughly 0.5cm thick.
  5. Using biscuit cutters, preferably in the shape of Christmas objects, cut shapes out of the dough. If you don’t have any cutters you could always get creative with a knife or any other objects you have lying around the kitchen!
  6. Place the shapes on the previously lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Once they have finished cooking, take the biscuits off the tray to cool before icing.
  8. Now comes the fun part! When you’re ready to ice them, you can use a variety of methods. For mine I used royal icing sugar (mixed with water) and melted chocolate to cover the biscuits, then decorated with pre-bought sweets and chocolate shapes.