Christmas with a twist from Great British Bake Off star Benjamina Ebuehi

04 December 2018 | Benjamina Ebuehi

Benjamina was a Great British Bake Off quarter-finalist honing her baking skills on the popular TV show. Benji now works as a food stylist, an ambassador for the social enterprise Luminary Bakery, and co-founded The Sister Table. Benji’s passion for baking has also led her to create her own website where she blogs and shares some of her favourite recipes. 

Benji has created some festive recipes with a Schwartz twist, just in time for Christmas. They are the perfect solution if you are looking to help make your Christmas food extra special with ease. You can serve the sweetest treats this Winter and impress your friends and family just by following her simple directions.

Ginger & chocolate sandwich cookies


Benjamina’s first recipe combines decadent chocolate with Schwartz’s warm aromatic ground Ginger for a special festive treat.

Makes 10-12 sandwich cookies

- 200g (7oz) light brown sugar
- 175g (6oz) unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- 75g (3oz) golden syrup
- 15g (½oz) treacle
- 325g (11oz) plain flour
- 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp Schwartz Ginger
- Pinch of Schwartz Sea Salt
- 50g (2oz) granulated sugar or golden caster sugar

Chocolate Ganache
- 100g (4oz) dark chocolate
- 125ml (4fl oz) double cream

Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC, 375ºF, Gas Mark 5.

Line two baking trays with baking parchment. In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar and butter until smooth. Whisk in the egg followed by the golden syrup and treacle.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, Ginger and Salt.  Add this to the butter mixture and stir until you have a smooth dough with no pockets of flour. 

Roll the dough into even balls and coat each one in granulated sugar. Place the balls onto the lined baking tray leaving an inch between them. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are firm but the middle is still a little soft. Leave to cool completely whilst you make the ganache.

To make the ganache, roughly chop the chocolate and place into a small bowl. Heat the double cream in a saucepan until simmering and pour over the chocolate. Stir the ganache until the chocolate has fully melted. The ganache will thicken as it cools but you can speed this up by placing it the fridge for 15 minutes. 

Once the ganache has reached a spreadable consistency, sandwich the biscuits together with half a tablespoon of ganache. 


Spiced apple & cranberry tart


This warm and flavourful Apple and Cranberry Tart is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Serves 4-6

- 4 Granny Smith apples
- 1½ tsp Schwartz Ground Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Schwartz Ground Ginger
- 1 sheet of puff pastry
- 50g (2oz) cranberries, fresh or frozen
- 50g (2oz) caster sugar
- 75g (3oz) unsalted butter, cubed
- Handful of flaked almonds

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC, 392ºF, Gas Mark 6.

Peel and core the apples and slice them thinly into half-moon shapes. Place them in a bowl and mix in all the spices ensuring the slices are evenly coated. 

Unroll the sheet of puff pastry onto baking parchment. Place the apples on the pastry in diagonal lines and scatter the cranberries on top. Sprinkle on the caster sugar and add the cubes of butter on top. Place the flaked almonds around the edges of the tart and bake for 45-50 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the apples have softened.

Leave to cool slightly before serving warm. 


Bread & butter pudding


Schwartz’s Mixed Spice adds a delicious wintery twist on this classic pudding 

Serves 4 

- Half a loaf of crusty white bread, sliced and buttered
- 50g (2oz) sultanas
- 225ml (8fl oz) whole milk
- 175ml (6fl oz) double cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp Schwartz Mixed Spice
- 3½ tbsp caster sugar
- 3 Eggs
- 1 tbsp demerara sugar
- Icing sugar, to dust

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC, 356ºF, Gas Mark 4. 

Grease your baking dish with butter and arrange the slices of bread inside starting from the outside and working your way in. Scatter the sultanas on top and in between the slices.

Make the custard by heating the milk, cream, vanilla and Schwartz mixed spice in a saucepan until warmed through. Be careful not to let it come to a boil. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and caster sugar. Pour a quarter of the warm milk into the eggs and whisk until combined. Pour in the rest of the milk and whisk together. 

Carefully pour the custard over the bread and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the demerara sugar on top and bake for 30-40 minutes until the custard has just set and the top is golden brown. Dust with icing sugar before serving. 


Amaretti rice pudding


Here’s another pudding recipe (since there’s no such thing as too much dessert) which will warm you up all Christmas long.

Serves 4

- 200g (7oz) pudding rice
- 75g (3oz) caster sugar
- 900ml (1½ pint) milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ tsp Schwartz Ground Nutmeg
- Handful of amaretti cookies, crushed
- Dried rose petals, to decorate

Add the pudding rice, sugar and milk to a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and add in the vanilla and Nutmeg.

Reduce to a low simmer and let the rice cook for 30-35 minutes stirring occasionally to ensure the pudding doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. 

Once the grains have softened, remove from the heat and serve the pudding warm with crushed amaretti cookies and dried rose petals if using.


Christmas cinnamon meringues


With Benjamina’s recipe, these beautiful, fluffy meringues are so moreish you may have to make a few batches!

Makes 6-8 meringues

- 325g (11oz) caster sugar
- 175g (6oz) egg whites, from 5 medium eggs
- 1½ tsp Schwartz Ground Cinnamon
- 300ml (½ pint) double cream
- Figs, oranges, choice of berries, to decorate

Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC, 374ºF, Gas Mark 5.

Line two baking trays with baking parchment.

Pour the sugar into a deep roasting tray and heat in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the temperature down to Gas mark 1/140C

Start whisking the egg whites on high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer until thick and frothy. With the mixer still running, add in the hot sugar one tablespoon at a time and continue whisking for 5 - 7 minutes.

Once you’ve added all the sugar, add in the Cinnamon and whisk briefly. The mixture should be smooth, glossy and doubled in size.  Spoon 6 - 8 dollops of meringue on the baking trays and bake for 1 hour. 

The meringues are done when they easily lift of the baking paper with a firm exterior. Let them cool in the oven for 30 minutes before removing from the oven to cool completely.

Serve with lightly whipped double cream, your choice of fresh fruit and a dusting of Cinnamon.

Benjamina’s recipes are the perfect way to make the festive season taste and smell amazing. Using Schwartz spices, she has created simple but impressive dishes with a twist that will turn your Christmas Cooking from good to great.