Christmas culinary cliches

Almond, lemon and ginger gems - fresh from the oven.

At this time of year, in this part of the world, there are two seemingly unavoidable treats: mincemeat fruit pies and shortbread. 

I quite like the little pies, and am neutral on shortbread, but prefer both in moderation.  The problem with them being Christmas treats is that there is a glut of them at this time of year; every Christmas party you go to, the mince pies and shortbread get wheeled out.  Again.  And again. 

So the two things I never bake or give at Yuletide are…well, you guessed it.  Also Christmas cake.  People – much as some of us do like these foods – do get heartily sick of the sight (and taste) of them by late December. 

Instead, I bake chocolate brownies – a rich, moist slice that is a perennial favourite – and a little sweetmeat called “almond, lemon and ginger gems” which are baked in little paper patty cases.  Mature folk particularly enjoy the latter, I find, as crystallised ginger was once a common baking ingredient (alas, not so much these days).  Gathered up in little cellophane bags, the little home-baked gems and brownie triangles look incredibly tasty…and NOT remotely like mince pies, shortbread or Christmas cake!!!

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