Monthly Archives: December 2016

Christmas Pudding & Ginger Snap Trifle with Brandy Whipped Mascarpone Cream and Cocoa Nibs

I’m a big fan of Christmas and part of the enjoyment for me is planning our menus ahead of time and making sure our fridge and store cupboards are well stocked, especially if people drop by unexpectedly or we find ourselves wanting to make a list minute edible gift.

Christmas Pudding & Ginger Snap Trifle with Brandy Whipped Mascarpone Cream and Cocoa Nibs from britinthesouth.comEven with the best planning I inevitably end up with leftovers and surplus items and part of the fun of the days between Christmas and New Year is finding interesting things to do with all the goodies we have on hand.

I love traditional British Christmas pudding but invariably end up with spare pudding each year. It is great crumbled and then sauteed in a little butter and slathered with cream, or stirred into vanilla ice cream.

Assessing the contents of my fridge I found not only leftover pudding, but half a tub of mascarpone and an open carton of heavy cream. My store cupboard revealed an open bag of ginger snap cookies and a container of cocoa nibs that I hadn’t been able to resist. Trifle seemed to be the obvious answer.

I crushed the ginger snaps, crumbled the Christmas pud, whipped together the mascarpone and cream with a little sugar and brandy and then it was simply a case of layering the ingredients to make an eye catching and delicious seasonal dessert.

Christmas Pudding & Ginger Snap Trifle with Brandy Whipped Mascarpone Cream and Cocoa Nibs from britinthesouth.com

Christmas Pudding & Ginger Snap Trifle with Brandy Whipped Mascarpone Cream and Cocoa Nibs

12 fl.oz (1.5 cups) Heavy whipping cream

4oz Mascarpone

1 tbsp Sugar

1 tsp brandy (optional)

6oz Crumbled Christmas pudding

2oz Crushed Ginger Snaps (Ginger Nuts)

Whip the cream and the mascarpone together until the mixture starts to stiffen. This can take a few minutes so it is easier if you use a stand mixer as I did, although you can do it by hand.

Add the sugar and brandy to the cream and mix for another minute to incorporate.

To assemble, place alternative layers of ginger snap, cream and pudding in your serving dish. I made four small trifles but it could be done in one larger bowl.

To finish, sprinkle the top of the trifle with cocoa nibs. If you don’t have cocoa nibs, grated chocolate would be a great alternative.

These are best if enjoyed immediately but if not they can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days.

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Edible Whisky Infused Snowflakes

I cannot claim credit for the original idea for these but it took a few experiments and a bit of trial and error to perfect the technique.

edible whisky infused snowflakes from britinthesouth.comA couple of years ago I was on a transatlantic flight a couple of weeks before Christmas and one of the options on the inflight video channels was Heston Blumenthal’s “Fantastical Food Christmas Special”. This was a series where he made supersized and fantasy versions of British food classics and the Christmas edition included edible tree decorations and a Christmas pudding large enough to climb into.

He experimented with various ways of producing alcoholic snow with little success. He finally opts for “rice paper snowflakes infused with a special whisky infused sugar”, but only makes the briefest mention of them with no detail on how he does it. Many of the fantasy dishes on Heston’s TV shows use ingredients, equipment or techniques that are out of my reach but whisky infused paper sounded well within my grasp, and a great addition to our tree decorations.

edible whisky infused snowflakes from britinthesouth.comThe starting point is rice paper, also known as wafer paper, edible sheets typically made with from potato starch or rice. Used in cake decorating and candy making they can be found in cake supply stores or online.

I used a snowflake shaped punch from an art supply store to make the snowflakes but you can use any shape that takes your fancy. The next step is to make a thick paste from powdered sugar and whisky (or the alcohol of your choice). Using a small brush, “paint” this onto the paper and before it dries sprinkle on some sparkling sugar to add some twinkle to the final result.

edible whisky infused snowflakes from britinthesouth.comThese snowflakes are somewhat delicate and are at their best within 2 to 3 days of being made before the alcohol dissipates and they dry out. You can hang them on your tree, use them as a drinks garnish or hand them out as an unusual nibble at holiday gatherings.

Edible Whisky Infused Snowflakes

2 sheets wafer paper

1 tbsp powdered sugar

1.5 tsp whisky

2 tsp sparkling sugar

Cut out the snowflake shape (or whatever shape you desire) from the sheets of wafer paper. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Mix the powdered sugar and whisky into a thick paste. Using a small brush carefully paint the sugar and whisky solution onto the wafer paper shapes.

Before the paste dries sprinkle with sparkling sugar.

Leave to dry before eating or using to decorate. To prevent the paper from curling as it dries place another sheet of parchment paper on top and then put a flat object such as a chopping board on top of that.

Yield: 12 snowflakes

 

 

 

 

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Panettone Truffles

For longer than I care to remember I’ve been a lover of Italian food, wine and culture and when I lived in London I regularly flew over to Italy for a taste of la dolce vita.

panettone truffles from britinthesouth.comAs a result, the Christmas shopping list for my household always includes a panettone, the famous Italian sweet bread that is an increasingly common sight in shops as Christmas approaches.

panettone truffles from britinthesouth.comPanettone is delicious just as it is, but is also great toasted and liberally spread with butter or mascarpone, and also makes a great bread and butter pudding. A few years ago I experimented with making truffles from some leftover panettone. I loved the results and after sharing some of them with friends I now have to make increasingly large batches every year. They are pretty easy to make but are an elegant and delicious Christmas treat.

The recipe is loosely based on a recipe for “Syrup Sponge Nuggets” from Hope & Greenwood’s “Sweets Made Simple”, an excellent book for those wanting to make chocolates and candy at home.

Panettone Truffles

8oz Golden syrup or agave syrup

2oz Unsalted butter

8oz Crumbled panettone

8oz White Chocolate

12oz Dark Chocolate

Put the crumbled panettone in a bowl. Melt together the syrup and butter over medium heat and then add to the panettone and stir to combine.

panettone truffles from britinthesouth.comGently melt the white chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan of water. Once melted add it to the panettone and syrup mixture and mix together. When cool, place in the refrigerator until the mixture is firm.

Taking a teaspoon full of the mixture at a time, roll into balls to form the centres of the truffles. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then return to the fridge to firm up again.

panettone truffles from britinthesouth.comMelt the dark chocolate for the coating in a double boiler. Dip the truffle centres in the melted chocolate to coat and place on baking parchment to set before enjoying.

Yield: 38-40 truffles

panettone truffles from britinthesouth.com

 

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Oat & Walnut Whisky Balls

Bourbon balls are one of many items that can be filed under the category of “things I’d never encountered until I moved to the South”.

oat and walnut whisky balls from britinthesouth.comInvented in the early 20th century in bourbon’s homeland of Kentucky, these little booze infused treats have become a staple at Christmas gatherings in the South.

Variations on the theme exist but the most common versions are made from crushed cookies, chopped pecans, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, corn syrup and of course a generous slug of bourbon. Other versions often use more chocolate and fewer cookies.

After experimenting with a number of permutations, I have settled on the recipe below. Although loosely based on the bourbon ball recipe from the splendid book, “Southern Living Christmas All Through The South”, I have substituted most of the main ingredients with products from the other side of the Atlantic. Balls with a British twist, you could say.

I have seen many recipes over here use vanilla cookies as their base. I have opted for Hobnobs, one of the most popular biscuits in Britain. The recipe uses plain Hobnobs, which are available in the US but harder to find than the chocolate covered versions which many supermarkets carry. They are available online if you can’t find them in a store.

For the key ingredient, namely the alcohol, I have gone for Scotch whisky. The primary ingredient in Hobnobs is oats, which pair well with Scotch, as seen in other delicious Scottish oat and whisky combinations such as cranachan and atholl brose.

I also plumped for walnuts instead of pecans and rather than corn syrup I used Golden Syrup, a popular sugar syrup from back home. These little delicacies are pretty easy to put together but look and taste great.

oat and walnut whisky balls from britinthesouth.com

Oat and Walnut Whisky Balls

3oz walnuts

12 plain Hobnob biscuits (around 6oz)

0.25 cup powdered sugar

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbsp Golden Syrup

0.25 cup Scotch whisky

Lightly toast the walnuts over medium heat until aromatic, stirring regularly (about 4-5 minutes). Take care not to burn them. Once they have cooled a little finely chop them. Put around one third of the nuts aside to decorate the balls later.

Crush the Hobnobs into a fine crumb. You can put them in a bag and bash them with a rolling pin or whizz them in a food processor.

In a large bowl, mix two thirds of the chopped nuts and the crushed biscuits with the other ingredients. Once thoroughly mixed, roll the mixture into 1″ balls, then coat them with the remaining chopped walnuts.

Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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