Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas pressies

This year I decided to make edible presents for the family and for the first time I actually made them. I was prompted by a number of blog articles I'd seen on making gifts and set about finding recipes that would appeal to ma famille.

My sisters got a selection of peppermint bark and white chocolate and cranberry chocolates care of Home Baked. Their jar of sweets was finished off with some of Sophie Dahl's peanut butter fudge.
Dad got a rather large amount of chocolate and ginger biscotti care of Cannelle et Vanille (the picture is from that blog too).

Ma got some chilli nut brittle (adapted from a Suite 101 recipe). No photo as it was just a massive jar of caramelised nuts!

Being a boy I didn't get round to making delightful gift tags for the jars. One step at a time! But I did manage to wrap them as all present need unwrapping. Fortunately all the jars survived the trip home intact, (despite the best efforts of Southeastern trains).

I think the gifts were most unexpected and on the whole well received. I was shocked at how long the biscotti took to make. They were the most labour intensive by a long way needing a double baking and lots of care. the fudge is not proper "fudge" fudge but it's ok and crazily sweet.

I also wanted to make my student sibling a Soup in a Jar, jars of red onion marmalade for everyone and some kind of boozy drink. However, time got the better of me. Maybe next year.

Anyway, thanks very much to the bloggers who inspired my Christmas gifts this year and here are the recipes I used:

Peppermint bark

200g dark chocolate
200g white chocolate
4 candy canes (or a small stick of rock)

1. Line a tray with silicon paper.
2. Melt the dark chocolate over a bain marie and spread evenly onto the tray. Leave to set in the freezer.
3. Slice the rock into thin slivers using a big sharp knife (it's harder then you think).
4. When the dark chocolate is set, melt the white chocolate and spread evenly over the dark chocolate (hopefully the cold dark chocolate will not melt too much).
5. While the chocolate is still runny, sprinkle over the crushed candy canes and leave to set.
6. Cut into into strips.

White chocolate and cranberry chocolates

200g white chocolate
Large handful of dried cranberries, chopped finely

1. Melt the chocolate over a bain marie.
2. Stir in the cranberries.
3. Spoon chocolate into moulds.
4. Chill in the freezer until solid (the colder the chocolate the less chance of it melting as you unmould)
Note: I got two great silicon moulds from Poundland!

Peanut butter fudge

125g/4½oz butter
500g/1lb 2oz dark brown sugar
120ml/4fl oz milk
250g/9oz crunchy peanut butter
1tsp vanilla extract
300g/10½oz icing sugar

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.
2. Stir in the brown sugar and milk, and bring to the boil for 2-3 minutes, without stirring.
3. Remove from the heat, and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla seeds.
4. Place the icing sugar in a large bowl, and pour the hot butter and sugar mixture on top. Using a wooden spoon, beat the mixture until smooth.
5. Pour into a 20cm/8in square baking tray, and set aside to cool slightly, then place in the fridge to chill completely.
6. Cut the fudge into squares with a sharp knife, turn out of the tin and store in an airtight container.

Chocolate and ginger biscotti

150g butter, room temperature
200g sugar
Zest of 1 orange
3 eggs, room temperature
415g flour
25g cocoa powder
12g baking powder
pinch of salt
70g stem ginger, small dice
50g chocolate chunks

1. Cream the butter, sugar and zest together. Add the eggs one at a time and scrape the bowl.
2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder,baking powder and salt and add it to the mixer. Mix until combined. Add the ginger and chocolate chunks until well distributed.
3. Transfer the dough into a half sheet pan lined with parchment and form into a log that is about 12"x4" approximately. Bake at 180°C for about 25 minutes or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
4. Let the log cool completely and then slice it into 1/4" thick pieces. Place the cookies on the sheet pans and bake at 160°C for about 10 minutes. Then flip the cookies over and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until dry.

Note: These things are incredibly fragile, so go easy.


  1. Fantastic - I'm glad my recipes worked out for you! I like your idea for cutting the bark into strips :o)

  2. wow, that's dedication! I just couldnt bring myself to make anyone anything... feel very guilty about that! happy new Year!

  3. Well, I'm impressed Hanna's bark was on my list, but I didn't manage it. Yours looks really good. Also like the idea of chocolate and ginger in the biscotti.

  4. @Hannah
    Your recipes were dead simple and everyone was delighted - result!
    You're easily impressed ;-) I was just glad they went down so well.
    The bark was really really easy. You must try. It was the first thing my sisters gobbled down.
    I really must do one of your "We should cocoa" challenges this year.

    And happy new year to you all!

  5. Some fantastic recipes here - thanks. I bought some little silicone chocolate moulds from our local Poundland which look very similar to your small chocolate shapes. I shall have to try out your chocolate & cranberry mixture in them.
    'Meanderings through my Cookbook'


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