However you celebrate the holidays, you may be thinking right now about how to make them a little bit special – while juggling all of life’s other bits and pieces that need to get done. Well, call us biased, but we think the best way to elevate a recipe to special status is to add a spoonful, a dollop or a slather of rich, flavoursome Mānuka honey.
Each of these recipes uses Mānuka honey. In recipes that need a lot of honey, we’ve split the quantities between a cheaper table honey and Mānuka, so you still get that luscious, sophisticated flavour and rich texture, but without having to break one’s piggy bank. For cooking with The True Honey Co. goodness, we recommend our 300+ MGO Mānuka honey (about UMF 11) will be just what you need.
Extra special Christmas biscuits
Here’s a recipe for a lovely traditional spiced biscuit that’s great for gifting and decorating. With the addition of Mānuka honey, the taste becomes a little more sophisticated and rich.
- 50g Mānuka honey
- 175g table honey
- 225g sugar
- 225g butter
- 1/2 cup room temperature water
- 570 g plain flour (not self-raising)
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
Melt the honey, sugar, butter and water together, and let the lovely, gloopy mixture cool.
Sift the flour, baking soda, cloves, ginger and cinnamon into a generous mixing bowl.
Add the melted mixture to the dry ingredients and stir everything together well.
Let your dough sit overnight on the bench (not in the fridge).
The next day, knead your dough well. It may seem quite hard to start with but should knead well once you give it some elbow grease.
Roll out the kneaded dough on a floured surface. For crisp biscuits, roll your dough quite thinly. For chewy, soft biscuits, roll it a bit thicker.
Using Christmas shapes, cut out biscuits, re-rolling any leftover dough to use it all up.
Pop your biscuits on a greased tray and bake at 180°C for 15 minutes until golden brown.
Biscuits will be soft straight out of the oven but will harden once they’ve cooled. Once they’re completely cool, ice and decorate them or simply leave them plain.
Melomakarona (Greek honey cookies)
A rather popular treat in Greece at Christmas, these sweet Greek honey cookies have a lot of ingredients, but are pretty simple to make. Although a word of caution, they are also highly addictive, and make it quite impossible to stop at just one of these soft, spicy little morsels. These quantities will make around 60 cookies, but you may want to halve the recipe in case that’s too much temptation. (PS. Glucose is usually available in your supermarket.)
For the cookies
- 150g thin/durum semolina
- 500g flour
- 1/2 tbsp baking powder
- 100ml orange juice
- 3 tbsp cognac or brandy
- 100g sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/3 tsp nutmeg
- 1/3 tsp clove
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tbsp baking soda
- 90ml water
- 125g olive oil
- 125g vegetable oil
- 50g Mānuka honey (a bit more than 2 tbsp)
- finely grated zest of 2 oranges
For the syrup
- 300ml water
- 600g sugar
- 90g glucose
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 orange, cut in half
- 180g mild bush or clover honey
- 200g chopped walnuts
Begin with the syrup. In a pot, add all syrup ingredients except the Mānuka honey and bring to the boil for 3-4 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved completely. Remove from the stove, stir in the honey and let it cool.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
To make the dough, add the semolina, flour and baking powder to a bowl and whisk them together.
In another large bowl add the orange juice, cognac, sugar, spices and vanilla.
Lastly, add the baking soda and whisk immediately for 5-10 seconds, until the ingredients combine and the baking soda starts foaming. Pour in the water, oil, orange zest and mild honey, whisking again lightly.
Now combine the two mixtures and knead the dough with your hands, just until smooth and soft, and all the flour is incorporated. (Don’t overwork it.)
Be careful not to over-knead the dough, or add any extra flour, as this could make them tough.
Cover two flat baking trays with baking paper. To shape each melomakarona, pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a ping pong ball, and shape with your palms into a smooth egg shape. Place on the baking tray, press down gently with the tines of a fork, and make some shallow holes on top.
Bake for around 20 minutes, until the cookies are light brown and cooked through.
Place the melomakarona – straight from the oven – in the cold syrup for 10-20 seconds, flipping them once. It’s a good idea to do this in 3-4 batches.
Remove them from the syrup with a slotted spoon, place back on the baking trays and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
Once completely cool, they’ll last well stored in the cupboard in an airtight container. (At least until your guests get a taste of them!)
Here’s a quick and easy Champagne breakfast to whip up on Christmas morning, hot, fluffy waffles are less labour intensive than making crepes, but just as delish and celebratory. If you don’t have a waffle iron, you can make pancakes by doubling the amount of milk and removing one of the quantities of honey.
- 1¾ cups plain flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1¾ cups milk
- 2 large free range eggs
- 120 grams melted butter
- 2 tsp creamy honey (any honey with a mild flavour will do)
- 2 tsp Mānuka honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
In another bowl, beat milk, eggs, melted butter, honey, and vanilla.
Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and stir with a fork until there are no lumps.
Leave it to sit while the waffle iron heats up, so the baking powder can do its thing.
Pour enough batter on the waffle iron to cover about ⅔ of the surface (it’ll spread with the top closed).
Either wait for the light to signal the waffle is cooked, or watch for the steam to stop coming out. Serve with berries or stone fruit, yoghurt, honey, and a bottle of something bubbly, if you fancy.
Apple honey glazed ham
This golden, glossy ham recipe will create a crowd-pleasing centrepiece. Wrapped well, the leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for several days of picking and pinicking.
- 1 ham, bone in (enough to serve all of your guests and have some leftover)
- 1-2 tbsp mustard, your preference, but we like using a grainy one
- Whole cloves
- 4-5 apples that have been peeled, cored, cooked and pureed, or a jar of apple sauce
- 1 tbsp Mānuka honey, warmed a little so it’s runny
Preheat your oven to 200°C.
Take the rind off your ham and trim off the thickest bits of the fat. Score a diamond pattern into the fat that you’ve left on.
Pop the ham in a roasting tray, and stud each diamond with a whole clove.
Slather the ham with the mustard, using a silicone pastry brush if you have one, or a spoon if not.
Bake for 30-40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cover the mustard with the apple. Then drizzle honey over the whole thing.
Place the ham back in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes then take out and baste with any juices that are in the pan, as well as any honey you have left.
Put it back in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, checking to make sure it doesn’t go beyond a nice dark golden colour and burn.
Take it out of oven and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and serve with extra mustard and all the other festive trimmings.