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Friday, 21 December 2012

Festive Bakes

Well this was the year that I vowed the majority of my Christmas gifts would be home-made.  To me, one of the main components of Christmas is scrummy food!  Unsurprisingly, I decided to make some baked treats to give as gifts.

Chocolate Truffles


After everyone on my Christmas forum was raving about giving home made truffles as gifts I decided I had to make my own.  Back in November I purchased some metallic petit four cases, with the intention of using them for truffles.  I have made ganache before for icing cakes, but never used it to make truffles.  The actual baking part is child's play, I used this recipe;


The only adjustment I made was using German dark chocolate instead of the recommended 70% cocoa (Lindt etc) - I may be biased, but I just think that German Chocolate has a far deeper taste.

The assembly was very, very messy!  It was a bit of a struggle not to let my OCD take over as all the shapes were slightly irregular, but I am very pleased with how they turned out.  I made 3 different types of truffle; malibu and white chocolate, dark chocolate rolled in cocoa and salted chocolate.

Festive Jam and Pickled Onions


As you may remember, back in the Summer I went blackberry picking on our local heath.  After thoroughly cleaning the blackberries I decided to freeze them to make something later in the year.  After dismissing my initial idea of a blackberry vodka, I decided to make jam.  I wanted something that could be put in my Christmas gift hamper, after scouring the net I found this recipe;


The cinnamon and nutmeg in this recipe made it very festive!  Unfortunately I didn't have enough blackberries and so I had to bulk it out with some raspberries that were also lurking in my freezer.  This was my first time making jam and although my first attempt didn't turn out perfect, it was great fun.  I was worried that the jam would be too runny and so a lot of jam makers advised the use of lemon juice for natural pectin.  I decided to use the juice from two lemons and it was a big mistake!  My jam set like concrete :( I was so worried it would have to be binned but luckily I found another site that told me how to rescue it.  Gently warming the jam, hot water is slowly stirred in until the desired consistency is reached.  Perfect!

When I was younger my Nan made Pickled Onions every Christmas.  The smell of briny onions still brings back fond memories from my childhood.  It is for this reason (and the fact that I am a pickled onion-aholic) that I wanted to make them again this year.  As soon as family and friends found out I was making a batch, the requests soon came in for some.  I made mine mid November, they have had 6 weeks to mature and should taste great!

Mince Pies, Millionaire Shortbread and Chocolate Candy Cane Fudge


A few years ago I started making mince pies throughout December.  I am not sure where I found the original recipe, but it called for citrus peel to be added to the pastry.  Since that first recipe, I always make sure to add orange peel and now I use the juice from the orange to amalgamate the pastry.  This year I even added a tablespoon of cognac to the mincemeat - yum yum!

Since adding my Millionaire Shortbread recipe to the blog, I have had a few comments and even my lovely Mother in Law mentioned how much she enjoyed making it.  It seemed fitting that I added this to my baked hamper.

I am a little in love with Kirstie Allsopp, and when I saw this recipe for chocolate fudge, I had to try it!


I have to say that I felt a little let down by the recipe.  Usually when using icing sugar you are advised as to whether it needs to be sieved.  Kirstie's didn't mention sieving the icing sugar and so I didn't bother - big mistake!  As soon as I tried to mix the icing sugar in, any lumps stayed whole and would not separate, failure!  There was no way I could salvage it as it was, I needed something that would distract from the small lumps of icing sugar in the mixture.  I had an epiphany - crushed candy canes!  They would add a lovely minty flavour and add a subtle chewiness to the texture.  I added 3 to the mix and it turned out heavenly.

The only problem with giving away all of these yummy treats is it's effect on my waist line :( We have a house full of left-overs that I seem to be working my way through ;)

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