Welcome to the last AlphaBakes of 2013, the "X" round up. As you can imagine, it's mostly full of Xmas treats but there one or two imaginative entries for X. Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to enter. The lucky winner of World's Best Cakes by Roger Pizey was selected at random from all eligible entries and is announced at the end.
To kick things off, we have Jacqueline with her Xmas shortbread biscuits which contain ground almonds and poppy seed and are star and leaf shaped.
Next is Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog with her Chocolate Log with a whipped boozy ganache. This is perfectly seasonal and that whipped boozy ganache sounds divine.
Kate from Veggie Desserts made this gorgeous Pumpkin Mincemeat which is perfect to give as a gift or to eat yourself. It's so easy to make that it really is a crime not to make it yourself!
Next we have Christmas Aero Bubbles Cookies from Laura from I'd Rather Bake Than ... I love the combination of chocolate and mint and I think the colour is lovely and festive too. They are slightly crisp on the outside and soft and chewy inside.
Alida from My Little Italian Kitchen made this stunning Italian Christmas Cake inspired by her trip to Trentino Alto Adige situated in the Italian Dolomites. It's called a Zelten cake which comes from the German “selten” which means “rarely” as this is a rich cake made only for special occasions. As Alida says, it was very rich, boozy, moreish and festive.
Our first entry with a different use of the letter X is by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. She used xanthan gum to make these gluten free cookies for her dance instructor who is gluten intolerant. She also incorporated ingredients that she had in her cupboards and came up with these Chewy Oatmeal Cran-Raisin Pecan Cookies (gluten free). The cookies are also dairy free as it contains almond milk.
My co host Caroline from Caroline Makes sent in Chocolate Chip Biscotti which she made for a work colleague. It's lovely and festive and looks great with the drizzle of chocolate on top.
Next is my own entry with an XL Doughtnut Birthday Cake made with a giant donut silicone tin. It's a vanilla sponge filled with raspberry jam and freshly whipped cream. I decorated it with pink glaze icing and sprinkles to resemble a doughnut.
Olivia from Liv a Little Bakery made these cute Candy Cane Cupcakes which look really festive with the two tone piping and edible glitter.
Laura from How to Cook Good Food made these cute individual Christmas Trifle which is a perfect alternative to Christmas pudding. It's a great way of using leftover Christmas Cake and it's wonderfully festive with flavours of dates, oranges, cinnamon and apricots.
Kate from Veggie Desserts is back again with Mince Pies with Spinach Pastry. She used her pumpkin mincemeat and encased them in spinach pastry to make them healthier and greener. I think they look really festive and are certainly a good alternative to traditional mince pies.
Sarah from Maison Cupcakes made these Festive Mini Coffee Cupcakes with Aero. There's something about miniature desserts that make them extra appealing. I love the combination of coffee and chocolate and everything is better with a bit of Aero!
Another entry from me with Xmas Vanilla Cookies/Biscuits using a festive cookie mould I received as a gift from a friend. The mould does all the hard work and all it needs is some simple decoration or you can go all out and create really fancy biscuits.
My co host Caroline is back with something a little different ... X-Rated Cookies (Bonking Biscuits) She was given these cookie cutters as a gift and has tried to artistically present her cookies so as not to offend anyone. She added some allspice to her cookies to make them spicy!
It's back to me again with Gingerbread Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. The frosting was absolutely divine and paired well with the spicy, sticky gingerbread. I made the same frosting using mixed spice and I think it was better than the cinnamon!
Louisa from Eat Your Veg had fun making these Chocolate Gingerbread Christmas Tree Decorations with her kids. They would also make good festive gifts and I'm sure anyone who receives these will be delighted.
Next is White Chocolate, Cardamom and Cranberry cookies from Vanesther from Bangers & Mash. This is a lovely homemade gift which reminds us that Christmas is not about buying love and affection but demonstrating it. The flavour combinations are perfectly festive and I'm sure anyone receiving these will feel loved.
Caroline is back with a Chocolate Yule Log that she made for a bake sale at work in conjunction with Save the Children's Christmas Jumper Day. She uses a Mary Berry recipe which is available online.
Next we have a very festive Christmas Spiced Cranberry, Orange and Carrot Bundt Cake from Chinskitchen. Every year she makes a delicious cake incorporating Christmas spices and this is her offering this year. The decorations are edible too!
How cute is this Xmas Village from Fiona from Let Them Eat Cake? She used a mould from Lakeland to create this Xmas Village. I love the little details like the snowdrift by the doors and in the window panes.
Stuart from Cakeyboi made these Pine Xmas Tree Cupcakes which contain pine essential oil! Not recommended but Stuart has not suffered any ill effects from eating it so I'd be happy to give it a go too! It gives a subtle pine flavour that complemented the chocolate. He also made his own stars for the tree.
Vanesther from Bangers & Mash is back with Snowflake Tear and Share Iced Buns. They would make a fun teatime centrepiece particularly for the kids. It's flavoured with cinnamon and lemon and looks ever so festive.
Caroline is back again with some festive Christmas Cupcakes. She co-organised the yearly Christmas party held for employees' children and made these delicious cinnamon cupcakes as well as her other duties as co-host.
The next few entries are from me. I was on a real baking spree this festive season and as they are all Christmassy, I've decided to share them with AlphaBakes. Firstly Christmas Tree Gingerbread Cookies with a hidden surprise. It's a stack of 3 gingerbread cookies with a hollowed centre filled with mini M&M's. These were a real hit especially with the children.
Mini gingerbread house which is made to perch on your mug. They make great festive gifts and can be personalised by writing the recipient's name on the wall.
Nigella Christmas Cornflake Wreaths which are really easy to make and require no baking. It's fun to make with the kids and they will love eating it too as it's basically cornflakes and melted marshmallows!
My co host Caroline is back with Reindeer Cake Pops. She made these for a children's Xmas party at work and I'm not surprised to read that it was as popular with adults as with the children! She used a madeira cake for the cake balls, dipped in chocolate and decorated with a red M&M and some pretzel sticks.
We have a newcomer to AlphaBakes. Please welcome Kate from The Gluten Free Alchemist who made these very festive and sparkly Almond and Cherry Biscuit Trees. Almond and cherry is a classic combination and I love the way they've been decorated.
The next 4 cakes are from my mum. The first 2 are Mini Christmas Fruitcakes with chopped up dried apricots, dates, cherries, crystalized ginger and dried pineapple soaked in cherry brandy for 3 days. The 3rd photo is a Honey Saffron Christmas cake with brandy infused with saffron threads, mixed fruits, nuts and honey. The final photo is a Luxurious Mincemeat Christmas Cake with a combination of mincemeat and dried fruit mix soaked in medium sherry for a week .
Laura from I'd Much Rather Bake Than... is back with a Gluten Free Chocolate Christmas Cake. It's a moist almost brownie like chocolate cake with marmalade and Terry's chocolate orange for orange flavour and delicious fruits such as sultanas, glace cherries and apricots. It's topped with a white chocolate fudge icing and I'm sure there wasn't a crumb left of this delicious cake!
Clearly great minds think alike as I also used the same flavours of chocolate and orange which are a very festive combination in my book. I made Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with a hidden surprise. The cupcakes have a gold coin hidden inside reminiscent of a sixpence in your Christmas pud.
Next we have a very exciting entry as it has the proper use of the letter 'X'! Alexandra from The Lass in the Apron made Xavier Soup, a genuine dish that is traditionally served on the feast day of St. Xavier (it takes place early in the Advent season). It is a simple dish of parmesan-and-parsley dumplings floating in a clear broth, warming and hearty enough for a main dish, yet still light and elegant
Suelle from Mainly Baking finally got round to making her Orange Marzipan Cake or Alternative Christmas Cake after meaning to for years. She tells us that the cake "consists of a shortbread layer, a madeira style cake flavoured with rum and dried fruit, and sandwiched between the two are layers of marzipan and marmalade. All this is topped of with a sprinkling of flaked almonds and pine nuts" However, she felt that it needed more marzipan and more orange but it was still a good cake.
Dom from Belleau Kitchen came up with a new creation called Jam Tartaroons. It's basically a jam tart with an egg white and ground almond topping which he had left over from making mince pies. They are really easy to make and tastes sublime. I can see this becoming a trend in 2014!
That's the end of the round up. The winner of this month's prize is Laura from I'd Much Rather Bake Than ... Congratulations! Please check your email for details of the prize.
Just to confuse everyone, I will be hosting January's AlphaBakes as I'm away for most of Feb so I've swapped hosting duties with Caroline. She will therefore be hosting Feb's challenge. Do check back on Jan 1st to see what letter we will be using in Jan. There's only 3 left so you have a 33.3% chance of guessing correctly. Happy New Year and see you back in Jan!