Reindeer might have the monopoly on sleigh-pulling in traditional, snowy Christmas scenes, but here in the Serengeti, it’s the prolific plains game that are Santa’s preferred mode of transportation! Luckily, he has plenty of animals to choose from; the current Green Season sees thousands of antelope and wildebeest enjoying the lush grasses, and game drives are filled with sightings of healthy herds of impala, eland, kudu, topi and waterbuck.
To celebrate the returning rains and some of the local wildlife that benefit so much from them, the kitchen team at Singita Sabora Tented Camp decided to hang the Christmas tree with edible decorations inspired by these horned ungulates. These easy-to-make spiced cookies are iced with simple animal designs that put an African spin on the usual mascots of the Christmas season but you can make it your own with any pattern or shape. Try piping your cookies with angels, Christmas trees or candy canes, and why not rope in the kids for an afternoon of festive fun!
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 180°C
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on a fairly high speed until smooth
3. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts and the egg
4. In a separate bowl, combine baking powder with flour and, little by little, add the wet ingredients. The dough will be very stiff. If it becomes too stiff for your mixer, turn out the dough onto a countertop surface. Wet your hands and finish off kneading the dough by hand.
5. Do not chill the dough
6. Divide into workable batches, roll out onto a floured surface and cut. You want these cookies to be on the thicker side (closer to ¼ inch rather than ⅛ inch).
7. Make a small hole at the top of your cookie before baking it (not too small as the hole will shrink as it bakes)
8. Before baking, chill the cut shapes in the fridge for a few minutes (5 – 10 min)
9. Bake for 6-8 minutes then allow to cool slightly on the cookie sheet until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack
10. Pipe with royal icing on top in your desired shape or pattern
Our Festive Fairy Light Cupcake recipe is another great one to do with the kids at this time of year or you could try your hand at this decadent Gingerbread & Orange Peel Layer Cake, complete with salted Amarula caramel! If you have energy after all of that, you could even whip up this Wild Hibiscus Spritzer to kick off the Christmas party.
Singita Sabora Tented Camp is located in Singita Grumeti in northern Tanzania, and forms part of the Serengeti Mara ecosystem. Ten years of dedicated conservation work, in partnership with the Grumeti Fund (GF), has transformed the western corridor of the Serengeti from a near-barren landscape to verdant plains teeming with game. Singita’s low-impact tourism model generates the funds necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the reserve, working with the GF to preserve 350,000 acres of now-thriving wilderness.