We’ve hit December, that must mean Christmas party season is upon us. A month of going out for endless lunches and dinners, catching up with friends that you’ve not had the chance to see all year and of course the dreaded (or not?!) work Christmas party.
I’ve only worked at three companies so far in my career and the Christmas parties have somewhat varied between the three. At Blue Square the Christmas parties were your usual affair with a sit down meal, dodgy DJ and some sort of evening ‘entertainment’ such as a bucking broncho. Just what you’re keen to get on in your sparkly black number, but with a few drinks down you, let’s be honest, you’re first in the queue.
At Betfair there were epic Christmas parties. I should hold my hands up and point out that at Betfair I had the privilege to organise the parties for up to 1000 members of staff with a pretty decent budget behind me. If I could think of it we did it! Whether it be recording studios, live bands, silent discos or caravanoke , nothing was too ridiculous that we didn’t try it.
One of my favourite parts of coming up with all the different elements of the Christmas party was to see how we could change things up from the usual, which meant steering well clear of a sit down menu where possible. I always think it ends up being a bit of a killer to the mood when you have to sit down for a couple of hours, so out with the old and in with the new and the introduction of bowl food. Bowl food encourages eating on the go. Drink in one hand, food in the other, never venturing too far from the dance floor.
I think the best part of any event manager’s job (if you love your food) is spending a long afternoon menu tasting and picking the dishes for the party.
We worked with some great caterers at Betfair and they ended up knowing us so well that without even having to ask there would always be some crispy chilli beef ready for us to try, whether it had any chance of getting on the menu or not! Delicious.
Now in my latest job, with only a small team, things have changed a little on the Christmas party front. We normally end up in a top notch restaurant, enjoying great food and fabulous wine. And I must admit, at the grand old age of 33, I’m quite happy with this arrangement. You still get to have a great night out and dress up nicely in a new outfit and maybe wear just a little bit of sparkle in the Christmas spirit.
I wanted to add some sparkle to the lovely little light cakes that are friands, and conjure up a little bit of Christmas spirit to add to them. I’d had my eye on a raspberry friand recipe from the What Katie Ate cookbook, and thought adding some lovely rich crunchy pistachios might just add that required sparkle.
I bought a mini friand tin (I was meant to buy a normal size one but clearly didn’t read the information properly) so I thought I’d try it out anyway along with baking some of normal cupcake size.
The mini ones were so cute! Bite size, light, a kick of tart but slightly tangy raspberries followed by a little bit of crunch from the pistachios. The sponge is incredibly airy from only using egg whites and relatively little flour. They do literally melt in your mouth delivering a tasty nutty flavour but with the fruit coming through against the sweetness. The almonds, raspberries and pistachios really a fantastic flavour combination.
These would be such a nice accompaniment to a coffee at the end of a meal. A little mouthful of incredibly light but slightly damp cake that just gives you a bit of sweetness that so many people crave at the end of a meal. Your guests would no doubt be thoroughly impressed and you’d know that actually they are incredibly easy to make.
So give these a try whilst you’re entertaining friends and family over Christmas and I personally think, the sparkle makes all the difference. The countdown to Christmas has started!
Raspberry and Pistachio Friands (a slight twist on What Katie Ate Raspberry Friands)
Makes about 12 friands (in a cup cake tin) and an additional 16 mini friands (in a friand tin)
10 egg whites
300g unsalted butter, melted
175g ground almonds
370g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting (if you wish, or just use the edible glitter)
100g plain flour
250g raspberries (approx 150g for the financiers and the rest to accompany them)
100g roughly chopped unsalted pistachios
Edible glitter for some sparkle!
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
Line a muffin tin with paper cases or butter the cases really well. If you have a friand tin, then obviously use one of those!
Put the pistachios in a hand held blitzer and do a quick blitz so that you can small slivers of pistachios but you don’t want them to be ground up.
Whisk the egg whites to lightly combine them and then add the melted butter, ground almonds, icing sugar and flour and beat them until they are well combined. Fold in the pistachios.
Pour the mixture into the prepared paper cases until they are about 2/3’s full.
Place two of three raspberries on top of each friend and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the tops are a light golden brown colour. If you do mini friands, these will take nearer to 20 minutes.
Dust with further icing sugar or a little bit of sparkle.
Delicious served warm with extra raspberries and some crème fraiche.