Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

More Christmas treats

on December 21, 2011

For the girls’ school, Sunday school and dancing teachers I always make some homemade goodies as Christmas presents.  I think it’s probably cheaper, especially if you’re buying the materials in larger quantities to make several items (and you don’t cost packaging materials you already own!).  Also, in the case of school, it cuts down on the number of gifts required – there are so many assistants and helpers in and out each day that I’ve taken to giving the main class teacher/2 teachers in the case of a job-share a gift, and sending a bag of truffles or similar for the staff to share.  This year I have made truffles, hot chocolate lollipops and shortbread.

I’m annoyed at myself for giving away all the truffles before I took a photo of any, but that will have to wait till another year now.  I shall give the recipe, though, as the website I got it from is no longer there.

Easy chocolate truffles

Basically, you need equal quantities of dark chocolate and mascarpone.  For me, that means a 250g tub of mascarpone and 2 1/2 100g bars of chocolate (the chocolate lasting longer and being easier to “dispose of” later!)

Break up the chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl and melt either in a bain marie or in the microwave if you’re careful.  Once melted,  whisk in the mascarpone.  You’ll probably find the cold of mascarpone sets the chocolate before it’s fully whisked and makes it grainy, so you’ll need to pop it in the microwave for little 20 sec bursts until it’s OK again.

Once it’s thoroughly combined and glossy, mix in any flavouring you want e.g. rum, Bailey’s, coffee, etc, a tablespoon at a time, to taste.  Then put the bowl into the fridge to chill.  It’s best to leave it overnight to be sure.

When the mixture has set firm, scoop out small quantities and roll into balls.  My truffles tend to be slightly bigger than marbles and I can get 62 from a 250g:250g mixture.  It’s worth saying here that I haven’t found a superior utensil for scooping –  I bought a melon baller expressly for the purpose this year, but it doesn’t work in ganache as it does in melon, so you still have to form the rest of the ball with your fingers and flick it out with the end of teaspoon.  So it’s not really worth it.   After you form each truffle, roll it in a plate of cocoa/sprinkles/glitter/whatever you want till it’s coated, then set aside on a baking tray covered in parchment. When you’ve finished/filled each tray place them back in the fridge to set.

**Alternative method** if you want to coat your truffles in chocolate, rather than the other things I mentioned above, leave them plain when you’ve formed them and put them straight on the tray.  While they’re chilling back in the fridge, melt twice as much chocolate as you had before e.g. 500g for the recipe I mentioned before.  When the truffles are set, dip them in the chocolate with a skewer or a fork and roll them around to coat.  They’ll come out a bit spiky and not the smooth things of beauty you get in boxes of chocolates, but you want people to know they’re home made, don’t you?!  Then return to the fridge to set again.

Bag them up and tying with pretty ribbon.  If you want to be really posh you can put each one in a petit four case and present in a box, but that’s a greater packaging cost and as long as you set them properly after forming you can put them in a bag without problems.

These are easy but awesome and one time someone did actually ask if I made them for a living.  So they’re a great gift!

Hot choc lollys 1

The chocolate setting with the spoons standing up!

The hot chocolate lollipops are from Holly’s blog.  She calls it hot chocolate on a stick, but that wouldn’t fit on the tags I

Hot choc lollys 2

The finished product!

was making for the bags, so I called them this instead.  Very, very easy – but do keep an eye on the chocolate because it suddenly goes from firm to melted more quickly than you’d guess, and then you have to pick the lumpy burnt bits out with a skewer.

The shortbread recipe I got from Jo’s blog, and I gather it’s Mary Berry’s recipe.  I needed to make something as a last minute gift in a hurry last night, so a trawled Jo’s hamper page till I found a recipe I had all the ingredients for!  I had a bit of trouble working out if it was cooked, as I wasn’t sure how brown it was supposed to be.  But I think I got it right in the end – we shared a piece last night (still slightly warm – mmmm…) and agreed it was very tasty.

Shortbread

I realise that on this photo it looks a bit like flapjack, but it’s not, honest!  According to the recipe it’s supposed to make 30 fingers, but my traybake tin is marked with a cutting guide for 12 square-ish pieces, so I cut each of these in half and the resulting 24 fingers looked small enough, so I decided that would do.  Some of them have become the last minute present I needed and I’m keeping the rest in case of another emergency.  (I’m already feeling bad about not giving gifts to the milkman, veg delivery man, etc, so next year I think I’m going to be even busier!)

Just for the sake of completeness, here is my finished Christmas cake, which I have just iced:Christmas cake

I’m pleased with the way my icing/sugarpaste skills have come on this year – mainly from watching videos on YouTube (and investing in some proper equipment!) – and the cake is much smoother and more even than last year’s.  My friend made the toppers and I bought the edible ribbon around the edge, so I can’t take credit for anything really creative!

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One response to “More Christmas treats

  1. cookingreadingsinging says:

    Still not very well in control of my photo placement, sorry 😦

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