Salted Vanilla Fudge

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The introduction of condensed coconut milk is a game changer. This fudge tastes delicious but not of coconut.

For about 24 squares you need

  • 397g tin of condensed coconut milk
  • 150ml soya milk
  • 115g vegan butter
  • 450g light soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1-2 tsp salt flakes (to taste)
  1. Place everything apart from the salt and vanilla in a heavy based pan and heat slowly and gently. Stirring all the time to prevent it from catching you want to bring it to the soft ball stage, about 118 degrees. This will take about 45 mins. Don’t rush it!
  2. Once it has reached temperature remove the pan from the heat and add 1 tsp salt and the vanilla. Beat the fudge until it’s cooled and thickened.
  3. Scrape into a lined tin and sprinkle over the remaining salt. Leave to cool then cut into squares.
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Peppermint Creams (v)

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The usual way to make peppermint creams is to use a raw egg white. This recipe replaces that with 1 tablespoon of glycerine. They are tricky little buggers to roll out so I recommend using two sheets of baking paper to stop them from sticking. Only roll a small section at a time and cut a few at a time to help with them keeping their shape. Once they have been left to air dry for a few hours you can dip in chocolate for a more luxurious finish if you want. It is Christmas after all and these taste just like After Eights 🙂

For about 30 trees you need

  • 200g sifted icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp glycerine
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • A LITTLE green dye. Don’t use as much as I did!!!
  • 75g melted dark chocolate (optional)
  1. Place all the ingredients apart from the water in a bowl. Add enough water to make a firm but pliable dough.
  2. Roll out between sheets of baking paper and cut into shapes.
  3. Leave to dry on parchment paper and dip in chocolate if you wish.

Boozy Chocolate Christmas Pudding Truffles (v)

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Another quick and easy gift idea here. These are a little sticky to roll so don’t be afraid to just dollop them into cases if you can’t make them into round balls.

For about 30 truffles you need

  • 454g christmas pudding
  • 125g dark chocolate, melted
  • 65ml brandy
  • 40g sifted icing sugar with a little extra for dusting
  1. Crumble the pudding into a bowl and mix in the brandy. Add the melted chocolate and icing sugar and mix into a sticky dough.
  2. Leave for 5-10 mins to let the chocolate begin to set a little then with cold hands and working quickly take teaspoons of the mix and roll into balls in the palms of your hands. Place into petit four cases.
  3. Dust with icing sugar and edible glitter and leave to set. These are boozy so best not to let the kids scoff them! Father Christmas would appreciate one though I am sure!

Rose Coconut Ice (v)

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Nothing says Happy Christmas more than something homemade, so the next few posts are some simple sweet ideas that are easy to produce but will guarantee smiles from your recipient.

For about 20 squares you need

  • 250g condensed coconut milk
  • 250g sifted icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp rose water
  • 200g desiccated coconut
  1. Place everything in a bowl and mix until well combined. It will get very stiff towards the end.
  2. Press into a small (6″ x 4″) tin lined with baking paper and leave to set over night.
  3. Cut into squares and gift away or keep to yourself and scoff…

 

Celebration Cake 2017

I’ve tweaked and tested and tried various versions of celebration fruit cakes over the last twenty years. Some of them have been a bit dry, some of them too boozy, others too dark and treacly. I needed an excellent cake for the winter solstice this year, and it was also a perfect opportunity to try out a new recipe ahead of our wedding next year (yes, even in a Christmas cake blog post I can get a mention of my forthcoming wedding in, give yourself a shiny*).

I tested this bake at work as the quantities below made more than my 8″ square tin could hold so I was able to bake a skinny 7″ round cake too. Everyone who tried it in the office declared it delicious and I don’t think they were just being polite.

You can veganise this cake by using dairy free spread in lieu of the butter and replacing the eggs with flax egg.

My cake based on Nigella’s Traditional Christmas Cake from her Nigella Christmas book.

* Watch this if you don’t know what on earth I am going on about…

For an 8″ square cake which will yield 16-24 slices depending on greed you need:

  • 1kg of mixed dried fruit: currants, raisins and sultanas. I used up what was in my larder but it worked out at about 350g of each type of dried fruit
  • 200g mixed peel
  • 250g glace cherries
  • 300ml each of brandy and dark rum
  • 300g butter or vegan spread
  • 180g light brown muscovado sugar
  • grated zest of two lemons and two oranges
  • 4 large eggs or the equivalent in flax egg
  • 2 tbsps treacle
  • 450g plain flour (add a little baking powder if using flax egg)
  • 1/2 freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  1. Start by placing the dried fruit, peel and cherries in a LARGE bowl and pour over the booze. Mix thoroughly then cover with clingfilm and leave in a cool place (not the fridge) for 2 weeks. Stir every couple of days to rotate the fruit and ensure even soaking.
  2. Make the cake by creaming the butter/spread with the sugar. Then add the eggs/egg replacement and flour in alternate spoonfuls to prevent curdling. Add the grated zest, treacle and spices. Mix well.
  3. Add the soaked fruit. Leave any remaining liquid in the bottom of the soaking bowl until you know if you need it. Sometimes the batter is runny enough without it, sometimes you need to add some of the liquid to let it down a bit. This stage is difficult as the batter is stiff and the bowl will be very full. Roll up your sleeves and get your hands in to ensure even fruit distribution if necessary.
  4. Scrape the mix into a lined 8″ square tin. Fill to 1cm from the top as the cake won’t rise too much whilst baking. Smooth the surface and make a little dip in the middle to compensate for any rise.
  5. Cover the tin with a square of foil with a hole in the middle to prevent the top of the cake from catching and the fruit burning during the cooking.
  6. Bake the cake in a pre-heated oven at 150 degrees (130 if fan) for 2 hours 45 mins to 3 hours 15 mins. Take the foil lid off about 45 mins before the end of the baking time to allow the top to brown evenly.
  7. Once cooked LEAVE TO COOL IN THE TIN!!! I learnt this the hard way this year when I turned it out too quickly thinking that would help it not sweat and scarily huge cracks appeared on the bottom. It was rescued by putting quickly back into the tin!
  8. Once cooled, wrap well and store or marzipan and ice. There’s no need to feed this cake as all the booze is locked inside the soaked fruit. It’s safe to give to children however as the booze cooks off as the cake bakes. If you want you can replace the booze with orange juice for a fresher tasting cake.

Triple Layer Pavlova

Christmas isn’t Christmas without at least one pavlova. I usually make a huge one and then struggle to fit it in the fridge… Having watched the Bake Off Showstopper challenge this series, I fancied a go at a triple layered version for this year. It worked! I used raspberries and mixed summer berries in ours but you can use whatever you want as long as it’s not horrible crunchy passion fruit seeds or pomegranate 😉

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For 8-10 portions you need

  • 6 egg whites (use the yolks in something else)
  • pinch salt
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 600ml double cream
  • 2 x 250g packs of frozen fruit, defrosted (or whatever you want to fill and top it with)
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.
  2. Line three baking sheets with baking parchment.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar a little at a time, whisking all the time on a slower speed until they are stiff and glossy. Add the cornflour and vinegar.
  4. Spread 1/3 of the mix on each baking sheet fitting to the size of whatever serving dish you will be using.
  5. For the final layer, spread out a circle and then pipe the remaining meringue mixture to form peaks.
  6. Reduce the oven heat to 130 degrees and bake the meringues for 1-1.5 hours until they are risen, golden brown and crispy.
  7. Switch off the oven and leave the door open a crack by wedging a spoon into the door. Leave to cool completely.
  8. Once cooled, whisk the cream to soft peaks and layer up the pavlova with the fruit and cream finishing with a layer of fruit.
  9. Stand back and admire your creation.

Salted Brown Sugar Fudge

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What is Christmas without some fudge to nibble on? I’ve attempted fudge a few times in my past, and it has always ended in abject failure – crunchy fudge or fudge flecked with burnt bits from where it’s caught is not the fudge I am looking for. However this recipe was a joy to make. Quick, easy and delicious. Perfect!

For enough fudge to make you feel sick and also give as presents you need:

  • 1 x 397 tin condensed milk
  • 80g salted butter
  • 150g light brown muscavado sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp salt flakes

Begin by placing the milk, sugar and butter in a heavy based pan. Gently melt the butter and sugar into the milk. Once it has melted, slowly bring to the boil stirring constantly. Don’t be tempted to rush this phase.

After about 5 mins of constant stirring you’ll feel the texture of the fudge change. At this point drop a small amount into a glass of cold water to check it’s at the soft ball stage. You want it to form a ball and be nice and soft. If this happens, remove from the heat. If not keep heating until it does.

Add the vanilla and salt, then beat vigorously for 2-3 mins. Again, you’ll feel the fudge change in consistency as you beat it signalling that it’s done.

Tip into a 20cm square baking dish lined with greaseproof paper and leave to set. Merry Christmas 🙂

Salted Caramel Tarts

My boyfriend’s mother requested these after I’d made millionaires shortbread. It’s a simple caramel that is poured into a pre made sweet shortcrust tartlet and then devoured. Highly calorific but utterly delicious.

For 16 individual tartlets or one big one you need
1 tin condensed milk
200g butter
4 tbsp golden syrup
1-2 tsp salt flakes depending on taste
2 packs pre made sweet shortcrust pastry tartlets (I used Morrisons which were yummy).

Place the ingredients, minus the tart cases, in a non stick heavy based pan and heat gently. The key to the caramel is patience. Keeping the heat low to medium, and stirring constantly, heat it gently until all the butter is melted. Continue to stir and heat until it comes to the boil and then still stirring keep going until it’s thickened and turned a dark golden brown colour. This takes about 15-20 mins in total. Beat in the salt flakes and then carefully pour into the tart cases and leave to set.

Chocolate Christmas Trifle

I used to be able to make lovely trifles, but my trifle mojo has been usurped by my boyfriend’s mum who makes a very mean one indeed. So much so Lex requested I didn’t make another for fear that it didn’t live up to one of hers…! However, this creation puts my mojo firmly back in contention I am pleased to say. It started as a way to use up some (embarrassingly) out of date sponge flan cases. But upon further inspection they were rock solid. So a chocolate swiss roll was purchased and the chocolate Christmas trifle extravaganza was born. It has the perfect combination of sour raspberries and strawberries to counter the sweet jelly and not-too-sweet chocolate custard. Decorate as you wish, we wanted sparkly poo so had a heavy hand with the festive glitter 😉

For 12-14 portions you need
1/2 chocolate swiss roll
1 tin strawberries, drained
1/2 pack frozen raspberries
1 packet halal jelly (or any other veggie jelly)
2 tbsp sweet sherry
2 tins ready to eat custard
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp boiling water
450ml double cream
decoration of your choice, we used chocolate vermicelli; glitter and stars for extra bliiiiiiiiiing

Slice the swiss roll into 1cm slices. Place these in the bottom of a trifle dish and cover with the sherry, raspberries and strawberries. Make the jelly up according to the packet instructions and pour over the base. Leave to set.

Meanwhile mix the cocoa powder with the boiling water to make a smooth paste. Add to the custard and mix well. Once the jelly is set, pour over.

Whip the cream to soft peak stage and put into a piping bag. Pipe over the custard and then go wild with the decoration. Eat, eat and be merry!

Proper Boozy Egg Nog

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a belly full of dangerously alcoholic egg nog. Not in my book anyway.

For 6-8 glasses you need
1/2 pint double cream
1/2 pint milk
3 eggs
4 tbsp icing sugar
3 measures each rum, brandy and whisky
freshly grated nutmeg
cocktail cherries to serve

Place everything apart from the nutmeg and cherries into a blender and blend for 2-3 mins till smooth and thoroughly combined. Strain through a fine meshed sieve into a jug and decorate with lashings of freshly grated nutmeg. Serve topped with enough cocktail cherries to just make you start to feel rather sick. Hic.