The most magical time of the year is upon us! OH yes It is very very close to Christmas now guys and excitement is reaching a fever pitch in my house! Christmas is a beautiful time to celebrate the people you love, friends and family, and give thanks for the year. Recently Whitworth's, the dried fruit and nut company, got in contact with me to be part of their Christmas social media campaign. The aim of the campaign; #sharethelove, The idea is to bake something to share with someone who you feel deserves it this Christmas. IT could be a friend, family member or neighbour. I was so pleased to be asked by Whitworth's partly because they are a brand I regularly use in my vegan baking and cooking and partly because I love sharing love with food!
So that got me to thinking who deserves some extra special love this Christmas? I knew it would be hard to keep the gift a secret from my immediate family and Jamie, so that ruled them out. I thought long and hard about my friends, I've got lots of lovely ones, who are incredibly supportive, kind and deserving of my cooking but the person who Jumped to my mind most was Sonia. Sonia was actually the first person to give me a paid job through this blog, and ever since then we have become very good friends. We have only known each other about a year, but she is incredibly supportive, and generous. She has taken me on a fair few good nights out, she's incredibly funny, and forever busy. She spends huge amounts of her time being a boss babe running not one but two companies, and she still finds time to help people. She mentors people in business and life, helps cook food for homeless people, and has even been known to do brilliant feminist stand up. She is super organised and i look at her diary in awe and wonder. But most of all over the past year she has been a wonderfully supportive friend, and helped me to believe in myself and this blog, so it seemed only right I say thank you with this blog too.
So what to cook? Sonia is also gluten free so it made sense to stick with my normal way of doing things on here and go gluten free. I received a lovely box of goodies from Whitworths, (thanks for the cookies, me and mum scoffed those!) and was inspired by the cranberries (it is Christmas after all) and all the nuts. I wanted something that would include a fair few dried fruits and nuts, (cos CHRISTMAS) while not being Christmas cake (cos EWW). I don't exactly know how I got to the idea of tiffins, but I got there and I liked it. Tiffins are simple to make and bloody delicious. They are chocolatey, biscuity, fruity and nutty, and have had a hint of spice for that true Christmas vibe, could they actually be any better?! This recipe is also really versatile, you can swap out the dried fruit and nuts for other types of dried fruits and nuts you have around. I reckon hazelnuts or pecans would go great in this!
After making the tiffins the next step was getting them to Sonia, remember I told you about that diary, yeah its always chocka block full. It wasn't going to be as simple as sending her a text like "Hey, can I pop round for a cuppa?" So i decided to use the one place I knew she would most likely be, her office. Sonia works in a shared office space, and so i got in contact with one of the girls who works there and asked her to let me know when Sonia arrived in the office. Of course I chose the day where Sonia was out all morning at a meeting, but I knew my patient waiting would pay off. Around half 12 Sonia arrived, but then I worried she might pop out for lunch and I would arrive without her there, so I waited another anxious hour and a half. I reckoned by 2 she would definitely be back at her desk like the lil worker bee she is.
The plan went without a hitch, thanks very much to the lovely people at Work Life who helped me. Sonia was very shocked to see me and even more shocked to be receiving a gift. (If you want to see her cute reaction check out my instagram or facebook stories!) We shared the tiffins out with the other people in the office and everyone loved them. I was told they were "like crack" which i can only take as a very good compliment indeed.
I made loads so there were still plenty left for Sonia to take home and enjoy. It was such a delight sharing the love with Sonia, it was so nice to be able to pay back some of the generosity she has shown me this year.
I also have made this recipe again, this time for tomorrow and Tis' the season to be mindful, an event I'm taking part in. It's in aid of the mental health research charity, MQ. If you are in the Herne Hill area tomorrow (dec 13th) from 5pm-midnight, drop in and say hi! It's a very worthy cause, you can read some of my writing and see Divya's artwork, and you can eat these tiffins cooked by my fair hand.
I think we can all take a little something from the Whitworth's campaign. It's always good to share the love, year wide, but this time of year especially. I'm not personally religious but I look on Christmas as a reminder to appreciate the love I do have in my life, and to let people know just how much they mean to me.
And Sonia, you mean a hell of a lot! Sometime the universe seems to give us people just when we need them, and you entered my life at a time when my confidence was low, but you have helped me to see my own worth and potential, and continue to inspire me every day, you are an unbelievable friend!
Makes one 10 x 10 inch tray
For the biscuits
150g gluten free self raising flour
100g vegan butter
50g granulated sugar
3 tablespoons almond milk
For the base
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup dried dates (cut into chunks)
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
For the top
400g vegan dark chocolate
200g vegan white chocolate
1) In a large bowl place the flour and the butter. Use your fingers to combine the two, making large crumbles. Once all the butter and flour are combined, mix in the sugar.
2) Add the almond milk and bring together into a loose, wet dough.
3)Line a tray with grease proof paper. Take a small handful of the dough and form into a small rounded cookie shape and place onto the lined tray. (don't worry too much about the shape of the cookies as they will be broken up later in the recipe, you just want them all a similar size so they cook evenly).
4)Place the cookies into the oven at 200'c for 25-30 mins. The cookies should be golden and browning at the edges. Leave the cookies to cool.
5)In a large bowl, place the fruits, nuts, and spice.
6) Place the cooled cookies into a sandwich bag and crush by beating them with a rolling pin. Add to the bowl with the fruit and nut mixture. (IF any large pieces of cookie remain, you can crumble them with your hands.)
7) Place the coconut oil into a glass and into the microwave for 30 seconds so it melts. Add the melted coconut oil and maple syrup to the bowl, and mix.
8) Place the base mixture into a 10x10 inch tray and place into the fridge for at least half an hour.
9) Melt the dark and white chocolate separately. Melt chocolate by breaking the bar into squares and placing in a bowl over a pan of boiling water, stirring continuously.
10) Add the dark chocolate first, covering the base. Pour the white chocolate on top in a zig-zag motion. Use a cocktail stick to swirl the white chocolate into the dark.
11) Enjoy, and remeber to share the love!