Gifts In Under 15 Mins

There’s something extra special about handmade, homemade presents.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

There’s something extra special about handmade, homemade presents. These festive showstoppers can be prepped easily and quickly, and you can get the kids to help out too


Prep 15 mins + soaking | Cook 1 hour | Serves 12

In a bowl, combine 1½ cups mixed dried fruit, ¾ cup glace cherries and ½ cup brandy. Soak for 1 hour. Preheat oven to slow, 150 C. Grease and double line a deep 20 cmround cake pan with baking paper, extending paper 3 cm above edge. Combine two 600 g packets vanilla mud cake and prepare following packet instructions, reducing liquid by ½ cup. Stir in soaked fruit, ½ cup slivered almonds and 1 tbsp mixed spice. Spoon into pan, smoothing top. Bake for 2 hours, covering with foil halfway, until cooked when tested. Brush warm cake with ¼ cup brandy. Cool in pan, loosely covered with foil.

TOPPING Dip fruit in a whisked egg white then coat in caster sugar. Dry on a rack. Dust cake with icing sugar and arrange fruit and fondant stars on top.
My Reading Room

Prep 10 mins | Cook 30 mins | Makes 30

Preheat oven to moderately slow, 160 C. Sift 2 cups plain flour, 1 cup icing sugar, and ¼ cup corn flour. Stir in 250 g melted butter and 2 tsps vanilla bean paste to form a dough. Roll out half, 3 mm thick, on a floured surface. Cut out 5-cm stars using a cutter. Arrange on lined oven trays, rerolling as needed. Brush stars with a little egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 mins. Repeat with remaining dough. Freeze in a freezer-safe container, layered with baking paper, for up to 2 months. Cook from frozen, brushed with egg white and sprinkled white sugar, for 20 mins.
My Reading Room

Prep 15 mins + setting | Cook 5 mins | Makes 12

Place 200 g chopped dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, heat ½ cup thickened cream and 20 g butter on medium, bubbling. Pour over chocolate. Set aside for 2 mins, then stir until smooth. Stir in 1 tbsp rum. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight until firm. Shape level tbsp mixture into balls. Toss in ½ cup cocoa to coat and place on lined oven trays. Chill.