Christmas Chocolate

This is one of those recipes I end up making most years around this time, it usually starts out as a chocolate fondue with the left overs turned into chocolate truffles.  We’ve never managed to eat all of the fondue as it’s just so rich so I don’t even both making extra unless I want a lot of truffles.

truffles

Muti purpose chocolate ganache recipe

250g dark chocolate
125ml double cream
Slug of brandy/rum/whisky or other spirit

In a saucepan, gently heat the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate has just melted – do not boil. Add the booze and stir thoroughly.

You can use it still warm as a chocolate fondue or sauce, cool for a while and use as cake filling or covering or cool thoroughly and shape into truffles. A little goes a long way.

For the truffles you need to keep the mixture cold and work quickly, I use a melon baller but you can roll it with spoons if you’re less clumsy than I am.  Roll the finished balls in cocoa powder, chopped nuts or sprinkles and plonk into petit four cases so they look fancy.  Or just scoff them as you make them and then buy a box of chocs for whoever you were making them for 🙂

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Salt dough decorations

Such fun at Ramsey Crafters this morning. We made salt dough decorations, and it was just like being back at nursery school playing with the play doh.  Very therapeutic. I may make some more at home later

I made a Santa-thulhu and a tentacle and a skelly and a few more traditional shapes. Just need them to dry nicely so they can be painted.

    
  

Feeling fruity

Finally got round to putting together the sloe vodka today.  While I was at it I also made a strawberry vodka and a peach vodka.  It’s probably a bit late now for the sloe vodka to be ready for Christmas, but the fruit ones only take a couple of weeks so they should be good to go.

It’s the same method for all them – just fill a bottle with fruit, a couple of spoons of sugar and top up with vodka or gin or any other clear spirit.  Give them a good shake every day or so until all the sugar is dissolved and the liquid has a good colour and then strain off the now yummy flavoured booze.  If you really want a boozy hit you can eat the fruit too – or throw it in a trifle.

I’ve not tried peaches before but strawberry and sloe are both old favourites.  I have some vodka left over which I am thinking of adding salt and licorice to just for something different.

With the sloes you’re supposed to prick them first, but since I froze mine until I got round to bottling they were splitting anyway so I didn’t need to.  Apparently you get a better flavour if you wait to pick the sloes until after the first frost but freezing them at least overnight is almost as good.

A trick I picked up from a friend recently is to add a few drops of vanilla – it’s the same flavour you get when spirits are aged in oak barrels so it makes cheap booze taste that bit posher.  These are definitely made with cheap booze, I went with Vodka rather than Gin because it was on special offer so this whole lot is only about £12 worth of alcohol – bargain!

I’ll try and remember to come back and add photos of the finished results.

Feeling autumnal

I love this time of year.  There is something so satisfying about picking fruit from the hedgerows.  Free is always my favourite price.

We just stopped the car on the way home from work as I spotted some sloe bushes – these beauties will soon be turning into sloe gin.  There were loads of sloe bushes and all of them had oodles of berries.  I might have to go back for more!

sloes

We’ve already picked a load of apples from the garden.  I had the idea of putting them through the juicer which meant we had loads of pulp which was turned into apple sauce, (add sugar and water, boil and sieve) and the juice is busy turning into apple mead. (I used this apple wine recipe but substituted honey for sugar).

mead

I’m planning on making a load of jams and chutneys over the next few days, I have a huge amount of ginger since we were lucky enough to pick up a small mountain of it from the reduced bin at the supermarket so I’m going to try making crystalised ginger, ginger honey, ginger curd and possibly ginger wine

Some of the jams/chutneys are destined for the Ramsey Crafters Christmas craft fair which is being held on my birthday.  It feels a bit early to be thinking about Christmas but it makes sense to take advantage of all the free food in the hedgerows, we had a busy morning yesterday harvesting willow from Sue’s garden and twisting it into wreath forms, we’ll be having a wreath making and decorating session at one of the Crafters sessions soon , hopefully these will have time to dry out nicely first.

wreaths

We’ve already had one craft session on christmas makes – we made some festive tea light holders from old glasses and jars.  They are really simple – just cover the glass in white pva glue, layer on tissue paper (the white ones are just tissues like you would use for blowing your nose the coloured one is cut up bits of coloured tissue paper) cover in more glue and decorate with sequins and/or glitter.  They don’t look like much until you put a lit tealight inside, but they are really effective when they are lit.

tealights

I have loads of ideas for Christmas makes, the next few months should be fun.