Category Archives: Sweets

Last Minute Sweet Gifts Roundup!

If you have left it too late, or have an unexpected guest arriving tomorrow here are some ideas for quick, easy sweet gifts that you can throw together. Or may be you have superpowers and somehow have some free time to whip together some sweets for the hoards about to descend. Either way, here are my favourite sweet recipes!

Fruit and Chocolate DropsChocolate FudgePeppermint Puddings'Fakewell', ginger and chilli and chocolate and peanut cookiesSpice Biscuits

Fruit and Chocolate Drops
Fudge
Peppermint Creams
–  Chocolate Truffles
– Condensed Milk Cookies
– Spice Biscuits

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Cookies and Biscuits, Roundup, Sweets

Chocolate Truffles

These Chocolate Truffles need to come with a warning.  You may make them as gifts but you will want to keep them!!!! They are so tasty!  These Truffles consist of a silky smooth ganache in the centre and a crisp chocolate shell around the outside.  They are also incredibly versatile, you can change the flavours up as easy as anything and you really can use any chocolate here, I’ve gone for a simple milk chocolate with either milk or white shells but so long as you grasp the underlying principles they you should be able to do just about anything with this!

Chocolate Truffles

What is important is to choose the best chocolate you can and get one with the simplest list of ingredients.  You have more wiggle room for the ganache but for the outsides you do not want any weird ingredients at all, you want cocoa solids (or mass), cocoa butter, sugar and milk along with the regular stabiliser and vanilla if it’s white chocolate.  That’s it.  No vegetable fat, certainly no hazelnut paste!  That stuff is a nightmare to try and work with.  Working with chocolate doesn’t have to be complicated and you really don’t need any special equipment at all, just a few tricks!

Chocolate TrufflesChocolate Truffles

The way to mix up the flavours is to maintain the ratio of chocolate to liquid.  I’ve specified cream, and you probably want the majority of the liquid to remain cream, but you could use orange juice, jam, Baileys, Cointreau, etc!  Just keep the liquid to half the quantity of chocolate and you’re safe.  Then for the outsides you want just a little bit more than went into the insides.  If you’re frugal you can do exactly the same but I’d rather this be easy for you so go a little over!  You can scale the recipe up or down, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to work with less than 200g of chocolate as it’s much harder to maintain the temperature with a small amount.

Chocolate Truffles

That’s what working with chocolate is all about, manipulating the temperature.  Chocolate behaves in certain ways at certain temperatures and we want to get it to exactly the right temperature to make it do what we want!  Too hot or too cold and you run the risk of the chocolate blooming, forming white blobs and streaks, or just not setting for hours.  If you get it right then your chocolate should set again, shiny and smooth in around 5 minutes at room temperature.

Chocolate Truffles

Makes ~40 truffles

300g milk chocolate
150ml cream
25g butter

Making Your Ganache Filling:

– Weigh out your chocolate into a plastic bowl.  Pyrex or similar retain the heat, which makes things hard, so work with plastic bowls if at all possible.
– Break it up into small chunks.
– Measure out the butter and cut it into small pieces, add to the chocolate.
– In a small saucepan measure out the cream and then bring to a boil.  You want plenty of room in your pan as that cream is going to rise up considerably!  Watch it like a hawk and when you get to the “Oh Shit!” point take it off the heat and pour straight over the chocolate and butter.
– Very gently poke the chocolate so that it is all below the level of the cream and gently wiggle it so that it works its way into the bottom of the bowl.  DO NOT STIR YET!
– Leave the bowl to sit for a few minutes to allow all of the chocolate to soften.
– NOW you can stir it!
– To get all of the lumps out, gently work them against the side of the bowl with the back of the spoon and keep mixing until you have a silky smooth ganache.
– Pour the ganache into a piping bag ( or two if necessary, leave enough room to secure the end with a twist.
– Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes (up to 48 hours) to allow it to harden.
– Once they have chilled cover a baking tray with foil and snip the end off your piping bag leaving about a 1cm hole.
– Pipe out portions of your ganache into blobs, spacing them apart.  They don’t have to be pretty at this stage, just about equal.
– Put the tray back in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.
– Once cool pick up each truffle and very quickly roughly shape into a round ball using the tips of your fingers.  Don’t use your palms and work quick as the warmer your chocolate gets the messier and more slippery this gets!
– Place the truffle back down as soon as its done and move on to the next.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/788/9308009/files/2014/12/img_7898.jpg

200g white chocolate
200g milk chocolate

Tempering Your Chocolate: 

– Put your covering chocolate in a bowl (work on each kind of chocolate separately)  and very gradually microwave it for 20 second intervals, stirring each time between.  You want to stop heating your chocolate when it is about 80% melted, 20% lumpy.  Then you simply work the lumps out by squishing them against the side of the bowl with the back of the spoon until it is all smooth.  You do not want your chocolate to get too hot.  In fact, if you touch a drop of melted chocolate to your lip it should feel cool!
– When you have all of your chocolate smooth it should still be liquid but not moving too fast.  Our first test to see if it is the correct temperature (called tempered) is the ribbon test:
– Take a spoonful of chocolate and drizzle it over the bowl.  The drizzled chocolate should stand proud on top of the melted chocolate in a ribbon.  When you give the bowl a little shake it should disappear back into the smooth pool of melted chocolate.
– The second test is to take a cocktail stick or coffee stirrer and dip it in to the chocolate.  Place it on the worksurface and check it in 5 minutes.  It should be set solid without any streaks or spots.  If it is still liquid, your chocolate is too hot, test it again.  This test allows you to see how your chocolate is behaving and make sure that you are ready to work with it.
– If your chocolate starts to cool and isn’t very liquid anymore then give it another 20 second blast in the microwave to raise the heat a little and give it a good stir.  Check again using the tests above each time you do this to ensure your chocolate is ok to work with.

Dipping Your Truffles:

– When you know your chocolate is tempered take a truffle, drop it into the chocolate and gently use a fork to scoop underneath it, move it about until it is fully coated and then scoop it out, allowing the excess chocolate to drain off.  DO NOT STAB THE TRUFFLE, SCOOP IT!
– Gently tip the truffle back onto the tray.
– Apply any decorations you might like while the chocolate is wet.
– Repeat with each remaining truffle.
– By the time you are finished the first truffles should be set hard with a lovely shiny finish.  Allow them all to stand until they are all hard.
– Simply pick them up and package them as gifts or set on a tray to serve to guests!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/788/9308009/files/2014/12/img_7908.jpg

(I’m not going to lie, my chocolate was a little too cool to be working with here, hence the swirls, but it was late and I was in a hurry!)

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under For the Keen Cook, Sweets

Fudge

I’ve been putting off making fudge for a while now but it’s only a few days until christmas and it could wait no longer.  I made 2 types, White Chocolate and Bailey’s Fudge and regular Chocolate Fudge The basic recipe is the same you just add different stuff at the end.  The possibilities are endless! 

I didn’t think I liked fudge for some reason but this stuff is delicious!  Especially warm scraps out of the pan at the very end.  The Bailey’s flavour develops really well as it cools and the regular chocolate is very very tempting.  So tempting in fact that when I went out leaving the very last slice I’d kept back for myself on the table the dog jumped up and ate it!  So I had a sugar high puppy and no fudge.  😦

I admit I burnt the first batch (White Chocolate and Baileys, below) I made as I didn’t know what I was doing.  Well, it wasn’t actually burnt, that’s the odd thing.  It just developed brown caramel pieces in it as I had it on too high a temperature.  It tasted absolutely fine, in fact I rather liked the texture, and the pan had nothing stuck to it at all so I’m not quite sure what happened.  So “caramel bits” they shall be!

Makes 1 8x8x8 cake tin

405g tin condensed milk
150ml milk
450g demerara sugar
115g unsalted butter
Flavourings of your choice:
200g white/plain/milk chocolate (break into small chunks first)
50ml alcohol (Bailey’s, Cointreau, etc.)
dried fruits
etc.

– Line your cake tin with foil. 
– Put everything in a large, deep pan and gently heat until the sugar is dissolved.  (It will no longer feel grainy on the bottom.)
– Raise the heat and bring to a boil. 
– Lower the heat again and very gently simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring constantly.  The liquid will bubble up (watch it doesn’t boil over) and then die back down again.  Keep stirring constantly and briskly.  Once it starts to thicken, or if you see any hint of brown flecks forming, remove from the heat. 
– To test the fudge drop a small spoonful into a jug of cold water.  It should form a soft ball, not ribbons.  (I was using a sugar thermometer but my fudge didn’t get to soft ball on the thermometer but still formed a soft ball in practice so best to do it the old-fashioned way here.)
– Here is where you add any flavourings and stir until thoroughly melted/combined. 
– Pour the hot fudge into the prepared tin, smooth down a little if necessary, and then leave to cool completely. 
– Turn out and lightly score where you want to cut then cut the fudge into chunks.

2 Comments

Filed under Moderately easy, Sweets

Peppermint Creams

A good old-fashioned staple this one.  We used to make these a lot as kids.  I’ve made these a little more complicated by dipping them in chocolate and decorating them to look like little Christmas Puddings.  They’re a little sticky but all sweets are and they’re great fun to make.  Better yet the basic peppermint creams are really quick to make. 

Makes ~30

300g icing sugar (plus up to 50g more)
2 tbsp double cream
1 egg white
peppermint essence

– Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl.
– Dependent on how big an egg you’ve used you may need more icing sugar to get a thick enough paste.
– Once the mixture is not longer sticky but soft and mouldable dust your hands with icing sugar and pinch off small amounts of the mixture and roll it into balls. 
– Place on a tray or chopping board covered in cling film and if you’re making flat discs press down gently with the heel of your hand. 
– Continue until all of the mixture is used up.   
– Leave to dry overnight. 
– The next day if you want chocolate dipped ones melt down 100g of chocolate and allow to cool until just warm to the touch.  If it’s still hot it will melt the peppermint creams. 
– Then dip them in it.  If you want to cover the whole thing then gently drop the peppermint cream into the chocolate, fish out with a fork, making sure it’s totally coated, and then tap firmly on the side of the bowl to get rid of any drippy chocolate.  Replace the peppermint on the tray or chopping board to dry.

To make Peppermint Puddings keep the peppermint cream as a round ball and dip in melted chocolate.  Then once that’s dried put a small spoon of melted white chocolate on the top and then mix food colouring and white chocolate together.  This will make the chocolate go weird but you can pick it up with your fingers and carefully shape the leaves and berries.  Simply press on to the white chocolate while it’s still tacky.

1 Comment

Filed under Easy, Sweets

Fruit and Chocolate Drops

These simply could not be easier.  I’ve been doing a lot with melted chocolate lately and after doing whatever I needed to with it I always had leftover chocolate.  I always like these when I get them in Belgium so I thought why not make them myself?  That way you can dictate what goes on the top too.   The ‘recipe’, such as it is, goes as far as however much chocolate you have. 

Makes however many you want.

melted chocolate (white, milk, dark, whatever you like)
dried fruit (I’ve used cranberries, raisins, sultanas and glace cherries.)
nuts (I like blanched almonds but walnuts, pecans or any other nut works well too.)

– Cover a chopping board or baking tray with baking paper. 
– Pour a spoonful of melted chocolate onto the paper and swirl round a little with the back of the spoon to make a flat disc. 
– Place your chosen fruit and nuts on the top. 
– Leave to set.  Done!

1 Comment

Filed under Easy, Sweets