Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas presents 2015

As has become tradition, I spent today in the kitchen finishing off edible gifts for the family. This year I made:
  • Salted caramel;
  • Chorizo jam;
  • Chocolate ginger squares; and
  • Cashew caramels
I was a bit worried about the salted caramel as by the time it had got to 170°C it had become slightly bitter. The addition of the cream and salt remedied this though to create a rich and deep spreadable caramel. The chorizo jam is a variant of the now reasonably well-known bacon jam. The tang of the chorizo mixed with sweet makes for an excellent condiment, especially with cheese.
The chocolate ginger squares were a ginger-based rocky road: ginger snaps and crystallised stem ginger encased in dark chocolate. An indulgent treat perfect for ginger-lovers. The cashew caramels turned out to be a fabulous slightly chewy caramel encasing toasted cashews with a hint of salt.

Hopefully they will go down well. On to the recipes:

Salted Caramel (care of A wee bit of cake) - Makes approx one and a half 1lb jam jars

300ml double cream
225g caster sugar
67ml water
3dsp golden syrup
Sea Salt

1. Heat the the sugar, water and golden syrup in a deep, heavy bottomed pan and until it reaches 170°C.
2. While the sugar is boiling warm the double cream in a separate pan until it’s warm but not boiling.
3. Once the sugar reaches temperature take off the heat and carefully pour the double cream in. Take care as the mixture will bubble up.
4. Stir until well combined and set aside to cool.
5. Once cool add 1 tbsp of salt. Add more according to taste.
6. Pour into the glass jars, add a light sprinkling of sea salt and decorate.

Chorizo Jam (care of BBC Good Food) - Makes approximately two jars

500g cooking chorizo, diced
1 large white onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
85g light muscovado sugar
3 tbsp Sherry or red wine vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 shot of espresso coffee or 100ml/4fl oz strong black coffee

1. Fry the chorizo in a large saucepan for about 5mins until golden and crispy at the edges. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate, leaving the oil that has been released in the pan.
2. Turn the heat down low and gently cook the onion in the chorizo oil for 15-20mins or until very soft and starting to brown.
3. Stir in the garlic, muscovado sugar, Sherry, maple syrup, espresso and chorizo. Cook slowly for 35-40mins, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy.
4. Turn off the heat, leave to cool a little, then tip everything into a food processor. Pulse briefly to chop everything up into really small pieces, then leave the mixture to cool before packing it into sterilised jam jars.

Cashew Caramels (care of BBC Good Food) - Makes 30-40 squares

375g toasted cashews
125g butter
350ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
400g golden caster sugar
250ml golden syrup
sea salt, for sprinkling

1. Line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment and rub generously with vegetable oil. Add half the cashews to the tin.
2. In a saucepan, bring the butter, cream and vanilla to the boil, then remove from the heat.
3. In a large heavy-based saucepan, heat the sugar and syrup on a medium-low heat until it reaches 155°C. Do not stir, or the sugar will crystallise.
4. Turn off the heat and very carefully add to the cream mixture. Stir together and heat again until it reaches 125C on the thermometer.
5. Remove from the heat and pour in the remaining nuts. Quickly pour into the tin, sprinkle over the salt and leave to cool.
6. When firm (after 3-4 hrs), cut into pieces – use a knife that has been dipped into boiling water.
7. Wrap in baking parchment until ready to eat. Will keep for 2 weeks in an airtight tin.

Chocolate Ginger Squares (care of BBC Good Food) - Makes 10-20 squares

300g ginger nut biscuits, roughly crushed
140g crystallised stem ginger, finely chopped
300g plain chocolate
100g butter, diced
100g golden syrup

1. Line a 20 x 30cm tin with baking parchment.
2. Mix the biscuits with most of the ginger, then set aside.
3. Melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth and glossy. Pour this over the biscuit and ginger mixture and mix together well.
4. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and sprinkle over the reserved ginger, then flatten the top lightly – it doesn’t need to be completely smooth.
5. Chill for at least 2 hrs, or overnight, before cutting into small squares

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