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Sometimes, when you’ve been baking way too many cookies and you say you’ll do just one more batch late in the evening, and you’re a little bit tired, you make mistakes – you’re missing an ingredient, or you skip a step, or both.

No? Just me?

Sometimes, you do this and it’s a disaster, but other times, it works – which is the case with these mincemeat meringue cookies.

I was all set to make the Almond, Cinnamon and Meringue Biscuits from the beautiful Breakfast Lunch Tea book from Rose Bakery – and one day, I will. But I made so many modifications I can’t say I really tried the original recipe. For one thing, I had picked up hazelnut meal and decided to use it instead of almonds; for another, I discovered too late that the candied peel in my cupboard was dried out and unusable, and substituted some leftover mincemeat I had in the fridge. And, I forgot the cinnamon that the original recipe calls for. (I also added some cacao nibs, which don’t entirely work with the mincemeat, but would work with the hazelnuts and, maybe, some cocoa powder added early on, for a better-than-Nutella flavour?)

The original recipe calls for setting aside 200 g of meringue after adding the lemon juice but before adding the remaining ingredients, to be brushed on top of the cookies before they are dried then baked. I forgot this step and while it probably makes for prettier cookies, it makes the recipe more fussy. Finally, the original recipe notes that “they are a little tricky to cut,” which is shorthand for “they are sticky and impossible to get out of the cookie cutter” – so I gave up and just sliced them into squares with a knife, which also means no scraps to waste or, um, snack on. Not that I would do such a thing.

The final product has the look of a scone rather than a pretty cookie, but I love them all the same, and the gluten-avoiders at my party did, too. They can be frozen (they’re somewhat prone to breaking, but I’ve had a bunch in the freezer in a ziploc bag for a couple of weeks and they’re mostly intact) and are also delicious straight out of the freezer, like most Christmas cookies. They’re chewy and nutty with just enough mincemeat flavour.

(Baked custard is one of my favourite things to make with leftover egg yolks, by the way.)

4 egg whites
450 g (4 1/2 cups) icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
juice of 1/2 lemon and grated zest of 1 lemon
320 g (3 1/3 cups) ground hazelnuts
1/2 cup mincemeat

Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then gradually add the sugar. When the mixture is very stiff, beat in the lemon juice. Add the ground hazelnuts, mincemeat and lemon zest. Mix until you have a dough-like paste, then chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Line a cookie sheet (or more) with parchment paper.

Dust your work surface with sugar and use a well-sugared rolling pin to roll the dough to about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. Cut into two- to three-inch squares and place on baking tray (they will spread slightly but not much so they can be fairly close). Leave to dry for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F and bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, until the bases are lightly golden. The tops should remain white and the bases should be soft and moist.

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Black bread with carrots in it, from this recipe from 101 Cookbooks. Delicious. It makes a huge loaf, you could easily split it into two. Good with chili.

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There are certainly a lot of tasty options on the market these days when it comes to energy and snack bars. But I really prefer to make my own if I can, for cost and health reasons. So I’ve been on a bit of a quest to find some reliable bar recipes. My criteria are that they have to be healthy (little to no added sugar or flour, lots of nutritious ingredients), easy to make ahead and freezable, but not melt when they come out of the freezer or fridge (which happens to a lot of raw bars). These are three I’ve found that I love – and they’re all different, which makes for excellent variety. And they’re all vegan, too.

Raw Chocolate-Chia Energy Bars
This recipe’s from Vegetarian Times. Its ingredient list is simple, it relies on dates for sweetening and includes chocolate. Tastes like a chocolate bar, but healthy. I used pumpkinseeds instead of almonds.

Fruit and Nut Energy Bites
This one’s from vegan recipe blog Oh She Glows. I left out the sugar completely – you don’t need it – used coarsely ground pecans instead of walnuts, and raisins instead of cranberries. Oh, and water instead of almond milk.

Vegan Fig Bars
This is a great pick for Fig Newton lovers and really energizing. They do take a bit of prep and a food processor but the result is worth it. Next time I’ll leave out the maple syrup from the filling and I might try and make a slightly larger amount of base/topping as I found it didn’t quite cover the filling.

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