I think we all have a set of Christmas traditions. The ones we grew up with and the new ones we create as grown ups – especially once children come onto the scene. Most of the Christmas traditions I can remember from my childhood seem to revolve around food – no surprises there! My mother and I would prepare large batches of traditional Greek cookies together – melomakarona (spiced honey cookies) and kourabiethes (snowballl cookies) weeks in advance. A number of these would be gifted and the rest would be piled high on a large platter in the living room – needless to say me and my bother would snack on them constantly.
My childhood Christmas tree went through a glitzy fake ’70s disco phase then moved on to a minimalist wooden version in the ’80s before reverting back to the classic real tree in the early ’90s (phew!). But we always had homemade decorations and biscuits on our tree along with little chocolate baubles – which my dog would steal from the tree whenever they happened to be within reach.
Christmas dinner (usually on Christmas Eve) was always a massive feast – my mother would use the oven and stove so much the electricity would always cut out around the time the guests would start to arrive. We would have to light candles and transfer a couple of dishes to the neighbours oven to finish cooking.
These days Christmas is all about the children and it starts with a tree purchasing trip – me usually begging for a modest one while Anya and Sam always choosing the biggest one possible. The tree decorating session may be my favourite activity – always with Christmas songs playing and festive hot chocolate to keep us all going. We have several cookie, ornament and gingerbread house decorating sessions in the weeks leading up to the big day.
This year Christmas came early courtesy of Lindt chocolates – an enormous package filled with numerous chocolatey delights of all shapes and sizes arrived at my door and despite trying to hide it from the children they soon discovered it and were nearly apoplectic with joy. Rather than eating as many as possible really, really, fast which was what my kids had in mind we decided to create an advent calendar with the little chocolate figures – each bag containing 2 chocolate treats and small toys and other Christmassy bits and bobs to be shared between Anya and Sam. Word of warning: always include two of the same treats in each bag to avoid massive arguments later. Since the kids helped to label and fill the bags we are going to have a little advent bag treasure hunt each day in December. This was Sam’s idea and a good one at that!
Christmas Hot Chocolate
200g cold Lindt milk chocolate or a mix of milk and dark chocolate
400ml whole milk (you may need a little less or more depending on mug size)
4 tbsp softly whipped cream (or use cream from a can)
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1 tbsp mini marshmallows
caramel or chocolate sauce to drizzle
2 candy canes to stir
dusting of cocoa or ground cinnamon
- Roughly chop the chocolate and put in a mini chopper or food processor. Blitz in short pulses until the chocolate is ground almost to a powder.
- Add 2 heaped tablespoons of the chocolate in each mug and mix to a paste with a little boiling hot water. Stir in the vanilla.
- Heat the milk in a saucepan or the microwave and pour over the chocolate. Stir very thoroughly or whizz with a milk frother.
- Spoon a couple of tablespoons of whipped cream onto the hot chocolate and top with the marshmallows, chocolate curls and a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce.
- Add a candy cane in each mug to use as a stirrer.
- Store any leftover ground chocolate in an airtight container.
Terms and conditions
> Giveaway open to UK residents over the age of 18 only.
> One winner will receive a selection of festive Lindt chocolates including: Christmas advent calendar, chocolate lover’s bag, bear tree decorations and a Santa 5 pack stocking filler!
> The winner will be randomly selected, announced in the Gleam giveaway box and contacted via their provided e-mail address shortly afterwards. Please claim your prize within 4 days of being notified.