The first thing I do when I get home from work in the evening - before I've even taken my coat off - is to turn on the lights on our tree. That moment when our flat is filled with their twinkling is my favourite moment of the day.
I've filled little bowls and plates with piles of gold chocolate coins and we eat entire meals composed of tiny quiches and things wrapped in bacon. Every morning, I gleefully declare how many days until Christmas and sing Christmas carols loudly and off-key as I get dressed.
In the office too, a sense of anticipation has started to build and, as a result, we are rather easily distracted from the business of the working day. Yesterday, a giant rubber duck was floated down the river outside our office. No work was done for a good hour. This was followed by a long discussion about what 'King Kong' would be called in Denmark (it's 'Kong King' if you're interested) and a fevered debate about what type of ties men should wear with checked shirts.
And by 7pm, the normally bustling office is quiet as people rush out to school nativity plays and late night shopping and impromptu evenings in the pub. At this time of year, people wear their hangovers like a badge of honour and compete to see who had the most eventful journey home from the office Christmas party.
In the last couple of weeks, the poor post room seems to spend most of its days sorting out parcels from Amazon and delivering people's Christmas shopping to their desks. And, if you're very lucky (and have signed up to the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap), they will also deliver you three delicious package filled with cookies from some of your very favourite bloggers.
I received some wonderful cantucci from Giulia of mondomulia, some deliciously spiced chocolate orange, pecan and cranberry cookies Kate of The Little Loaf and some lovely buttery cookies studded with raisins from a mystery cookie-sender. The recipients of my almond butter, cranberry and dark chocolate cookies were Victoria of Victoria Sponge, Pease Pudding, Gill of Tales of Pigling Bland and Rebecca of 366 Recipe Challenge. On reflection, I'm not sure quite how well these cookies would have stood up to travelling the length and breadth of the country due to the high butter content but I do hope that my swapees enjoyed them!
Thank you so much to Lindsay and Julie for all their hard work in organising this cookie swap; it's a massive undertaking but, personally, I can't think of a more fitting way to start the festive season.
Almond butter, cranberry and dark chocolate cookies
Adapted from my hazelnut butter and buckwheat cookies
Yield: Approx 40 cookies
- 170g (3/4 cup) almond butter
- 140g (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 110g (1/2 cup) unrefined caster/granulated sugar
- 90g (1/2 cup) light brown soft sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 170g (1 1/2 cups) plain/all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 100g (4 oz) dried cranberries
- 100g (4 oz) chopped dark chocolate
- Beat together the almond butter, butter and both the sugars until soft and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and fold them into the dough. Fold through the dried cranberries and chocolate chips.
- Cover the dough and chill for at least two hours.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a baking tray with non-stick paper.
- Shape a tablespoon's worth of dough into a ball with your hands, place on the baking tray and squish down. If wanted, sprinkle with a touch of salt. This recipe makes quite a few cookies so, unless you have a giant oven, store the dough in the fridge in between rounds of cookies.
- Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown. Leave the cookies to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.