For me Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without all my family, the massive tree adorned with red baubles and the best dinner of the year, all washed down with copious amounts of bubbly champagne.

But it’s not just Christmas Day we make a big deal out of in our household, it is the whole festive season. The minute the trees goes up and the chocolates come out we embrace the season whole heartily, and that is why the Festive Bake Off has become a Maguire family tradition. Every Christmas Eve my sister and I get stuck into making an array of delicious festive treats and drinks, then as my mum finishes fussing over the last of the wrapping, we all snuggle up in our new PJs and watch The Grinch.

And this year has been no acceptation. So for those of you who might want to get creative in the kitchen this holiday season here are some family recipes that will not only look impressive, but taste fantastic too.

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Mulled Wine

You will need…

2 clementines


1 lime

200g caster sugar

6 whole cloves

1 stick cinnamon

3 fresh bay leaves

1 whole nutmeg

1 vanilla pod

 2 star anise

2 bottles Chianti or another Italian red wine


This is so simple to make and really is Christmas in a glass.

Peel large sections of peel from your clementines, lemon and lime then place the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the peel and squeeze in the clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and grated nutmeg. Throw in your vanilla pod and stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.

Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you’ve got a thick syrup.

When the syrup is ready, turn the heat down and add the star anise and the rest of the wine.

Gently heat the wine through and serve.

Puff Pastry Mince Pies

You will need…

Ready prepared chilled puff pastry (after all it’s Christmas, who has time to make the stuff)

100g good-quality mincemeat


Lightly flour the counter top and roll out the chilled pastry until it is a few centimetres thick.

Using a cutter cut small rounds and place them into a greased cup cake tin.

Spoon in a generous helping of mincemeat and repeat with the pastry to create toppers. If you fancy it why not use a star cutter for the toppers to make them extra festive and fun.

Brush each pie with an egg wash and place in an oven until golden brown and bubbling, around 20 – 25 mins.

Leave to cool, then crack the individual pies out of the trays and dust with a little icing sugar before serving.


Reindeer Cupcakes

You will need…

6oz flour caster sugar and marg

3 eggs

Vanilla essence

A splash of milk and lemon

Chocolate frosting

Chocolate buttons

Smarties (red)



In an electric mixer place all weighed dry indigents and then add the wet. Beat on a low setting for a minute of so then turn up the speed.

Once the cake batter is completey mixed, use an ice cream scoop to fill cupcake cases (placed in a tray) with mixture.

Bake on a medium heat for 20 mins until golden and cooked through.

Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack.

Now cooled spread each cupcake with chocolate frosting and use the chocolate buttons, smarties and pretzels to construct the reindeers features.

And finally serve to a seriously impressed audience.

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Chocolate Bark

You will need…

3 packs of good quailty choclate (dark or milk, which ever you prefer)

Dried cranberries, raisins, apricots and nuts of you choice.


Melt chocolate on a low heat using a bain marie.

On a grease proof cover sheet pan evenly pour the chocolate and sprinkle with desired fruit and nuts.

Place in a cool refrigerator or freezer until solid, then break into uneven rough pieces and serve.

I like to display all the baked goods on a rustic wooden board and place this the the middle of the table as a sharing platter. These simple yet brilliant festive treats sure are a winner with my family and I challenge anyone to resist. When baking is this easy there really isn’t a better way to get all the family together and excited for the big day tomorrow. So go on tuck in, it’s Christmas.


PS. It is completely acceptable to leave the sticky icing mess of a kitchen to the men. You earned that.

By Sophie Maguire




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