Friday, 18 November 2011

Update: Let's Make Christmas: Miniature Crunchy Fruit and Nut Christmas Cake, Chocolate Table Truffles and Mulled Wine Syrup

                                                    


After three weeks of deliberating and debating, selecting and sampling I finally chose my gifts to take along to Let's Make Christmas.


There was the supper that consisted entirely of chocolate truffles, the early morning when I felt increasingly tipsy from the overwhelming but very festive fumes from the boiling mulled wine syrup and the raised eyebrows from the librarian as I stripped the local library of all Christmas-related recipe books, two months early.


Let's Make Christmas, very kindly organised by the brilliant Vanessa Kimbell of 'Prepped' fame, took place at Fortnum and Mason. Fifty food bloggers meeting and greeting, sampling festive fare and a little gentle competition. There were four categories in the Great Blogger Christmas Gift Swop: cakes, sweets, preserves and drinks. All to be judged by one very lucky Dan Lepard


Brilliant.


My experience of baking for competition is, erm, limited, as you can read right here. But this is what I made:


The Miniature Crunchy Fruit and Nut Christmas Cake:








Now boxed and be-ribboned:








And, in the drink category, Mulled Wine Syrup:




Mulled Wine Syrup: 



Ingredients

Peel and juice of 1 unwaxed orange
Peel of 1 lemon
150g caster sugar
5 cloves
5 cardamon pods
1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 large glass of red wine

  • Pop the peel and juice of the orange,  the lemon peel, sugar, cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and nutmeg  into a large saucepan.
  • Add the red wine and heat gently, stiring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Bring to the boil and cook for approximately 5-10 minutes until a thick syrup
  • Allow to cool and poor into sterilised bottles


Baker's Drinker's notes...


  • When ready to use: pour the syrup into a large saucepan, add two bottles of fruity red wine and gently heat through
  • Makes 12 servings.



Also be-ribboned:




And, finally, a selection of Christmas Table Truffles, inspired by our Christmas Table each year back home. These add a little chocolate treat to the end of what is surely The Best Meal Of The Year (TM):





Christmas Table Truffles

Dark Chocolate Classic Truffles (not shown; we ate the spares. Oops)
50g good quality dark chocolate
50ml double cream
10g muscovado sugar
Cocoa powder for dusting

1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl
2. Place the cream and sugar in a small pan and heat gently, stirring slowly until the sugar has completely melted
3. Take the cream and sugar off the heat and allow to cool for a minute
4. Pour over the chocolate and mix well with a whisk until smooth and glossy (this can also be undertaken with aliquidiser for a smoother finish)
5. Allow to cool further at room temperature then place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours until fully set
6. When set use a small spoon to scoop out truffle sized pieces and roll in cocoa powder

White Chocolate Cranberry Truffles

100g good quality dark Chocolate
50ml double cream
10g muscovado sugar
A palmful of dried cranberries, chopped into small pieces

150g melted white chocolate

1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl
2. Place the cream and sugar in a small pan and heat gently until just before boiling
3. Take the cream and sugar off the heat and allow to cool for a minute
4. Pour over the chocolate and mix well with a whisk until smooth and glossy (this can also be undertaken with a liquidiser for a smoother finish). Add the chopped cranberries
5. Allow to cool further at room temperature then place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours until fully set
6. When set use a small spoon to scoop out truffle sized pieces
7. Dip in the melted white chocolate and decorate with a chopped dried cranberry

Pistachio Truffles

100g dark chocolate
50ml double cream
Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
40g finely chopped, shelled pistachios

1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl
2. Place the cream in a small pan and heat gently until just before boiling
3. Take the cream off the heat and allow to cool for a minute
4. Pour over the chocolate and mix well with a whisk until smooth and glossy (this can also be undertaken with a liquidiser)
5. Allow to cool further at room temperature then place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours until fully set
6. When set use a small spoon to scoop out truffle sized pieces and roll the truffles in the chopped pistachios

Chocolate 'Snowballs'

100g good quality dark chocolate
2 tbsps condensed milk
Dessicated coconut for rolling

1. Pop the chocolate and condensed milk in a microwave-proof bowl and heat the ingredients in a microwave, pausing every 10-20 seconds to stir
2. Once melted remove from the microwave, continuing to stir as the mixture thickens
3. Allow to cool then place in the fridge to set
4. Once set, remove from the fridge and use a small spoon to scoop out truffle sized pieces and roll in the coconut to cover completely

Baker's notes...
  • All truffles keep in a cool place for up to three days
  • Each recipe makes approximately ten - fifteen truffles
  • Chocolate + warm hands = potential truffle disaster. Clean plastic gloves are thus very useful when rolling the truffles. Working in a hospital I have access to a plentiful supply, but of course I forgot to bring any home. Improvising, I used two freezer bags as 'gloves' which worked rather well when moulding the truffles into shape
  • I didn't add any alcohol to these, but a tsp or two of rum would add a certain festive cheer


Boxed and be-ribboned:



UPDATE: It was a brilliant afternoon, I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed myself. I met with lovely, lovely old friends and made great new friends, all in the grandeur, sumptuous and very festive surroundings of Fortnum and Mason. The full list of prize winners will be published on Vanessa's blog in due course. A big, huge thank you to Vanessa, judge Dan and all those at Fortnums.

I was lucky to take home some gorgeous Christmas gifts, including Cindy from Food for Thought's Christmas-Feel-Good-Cookies, Sneige from Orange Thyme Blog's award-winning Port and Cranberry Mincemeat Pops and Pascale from Extra Relish's Christmas Cheese Sables. Sadly I have very few photos of the event as I was too busy chatting and scoffing. The buttery, boozy mince pies generously provided by Fortnums stood no chance. Perhaps not that surprising. 


11 comments:

  1. These are all amazing! So so pretty! Big order in for christmas please.xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kate, it was lovely to meet you this afternoon, wasn't it a fab event? Sadly I didn't get a ticket for any of your lovely food, but I did get Karen's liqueur! Yum! Jude x

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am delighted in picking your mini crunchy fruit & nut cake. I am worried that I will get to try very little of it though as my 7yo was seriously impressed and wants to eat it ALL HERSELF! So, I shall be making & baking more of these over the next few weeks.
    Great seeing you again,
    Laura x

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sounds like a fabulous event, wish I could have been there! Can't wait to read all about it and see some pics. Enjoy your very lovely sounding gifts indeed :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Really good meeting you on Friday! Your truffles were delicious! Hope we van al meet up again sometime :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. All of your Christmas gifts and goodies look so, so delicious, and so beautifully packaged too - it must have taken you hours and hours to do all of that!

    So glad to hear that you had a great time at Fortnum and Mason, it's at times like these that I wish I lived in London, or at least near enough to visit on special occasions!

    ReplyDelete
  7. LOVELY to meet you Kate and what lovely treats you made and submitted, I REALLY wanted your cake!! I need to write up my post still......but loved reading this to capture the atmosphere all over again!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sounds like you had a great time at F and M.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your packaged gifts look fantastic - worthy winners for that alone. It was really good to meet you and so many others and it was such a fun event. Good on Vanessa for organising it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I agreed that Your packaged gifts look fantastic - worthy winners for that alone. It was really good to meet you and so many others and it was such a fun event. Good on Vanessa for organising it.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you very much for your comment- I appreciate every single one of them!