Golden Salted Caramel Chocolate Eggs

The shops were full of the usual array of seasonal chocolate goodies for Easter, but I fancied the fun of making my own, and what better than a dark chocolate egg, with a luscious home made salted caramel filling finished with a dusting of shiny edible gold dust for a final sparkle.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comI have to admit they were rather good. Although tempted to eat them all myself I did share some with friends and got an unanimous positive response.

In reality they were half eggs. I used a mold to make them and didn’t have time to stick the two halves together. Something to work on for next year.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comThe whole project was useful to practice a number of chocolate and candy making techniques, such as tempering chocolate, using molds and making caramel.

Tempering chocolate is heating and cooling it in a controlled way that ensures the crystals of cocoa butter that are produced are of a consistent size. This results in chocolate with a shiny finish and a snap when you break it, rather than a dull appearance with a white bloom and a crumbly texture. There are different ways of doing it, which include splashing out a few hundred dollars on a tempering machine to do it for you, spreading melted chocolate around on a marble slab or using what is known as the seeding method as I do below.

If you want an extra shiny finish you can spray the finished eggs with edible luster dust. Look for FDA approved edible dust which is available in a wide range of colours from cake and candy making supply stores or online.

Golden Salted Caramel Chocolate Eggs

15oz Dark Chocolate (I used 60% Ghiradelli): chips, pistoles or chopped into small even pieces

I cup granulated sugar

3oz unsalted butter, cut in pieces

0.5 cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature

2 tsp flaky sea salt

Gold edible luster dust (optional)

Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of water over medium heat. The water should not be simmering or boiling. The aim is to melt the chocolate slowly and gently. Place 10oz of the chocolate in the bowl and leave to melt slowly (around an hour).

As you wait for the chocolate to melt you can make your caramel sauce. Put the granulated sugar in a heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Swirl the pan occasionally as the sugar slowly starts to melt but do not stir it at this stage. Like the chocolate, patience is the key. Keep a close eye on it and when the sugar has melted and starts to turn golden in colour add the butter and stir well to incorporate it. The sugar mix will bubble a lot but just keep stirring and make sure you don’t spill any of the hot mixture on yourself.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comRemove from the heat and add the cream, again stirring briskly as you do so to incorporate the cream. Make sure the cream is at least at room temperature. It could even be slightly warmed. I once made the mistake of adding cream which was too cold and the contents of the pan almost immediately seized into one solid lump of caramel.

Once the cream is mixed in add the sea salt. Set the sauce aside to cool.

Once the chocolate has melted and is smooth, remove from the heat and add the remaining 5oz of chocolate, stirring until it melts. Keep stirring until the chocolate cools down to around 88-89 F.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comPour the melted chocolate into the egg molds. Fill the molds, and then invert the mold over the bowl to allow the excess chocolate to drip out. Place the mold into the fridge for 10-15 minutes for the chocolate to harden.

Remove the tray from the fridge and use an offset spatula to scrape the excess chocolate from the bottom of the mold leaving you with neat chocolate egg shells.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comCarefully spoon some of the caramel filling into each egg, ensuring you leave room at the top for the final layer of chocolate. Return to the fridge for another 10-15 minutes to set once more.

Remove from the fridge, and add the final layer of chocolate to each mold, ensuring the caramel is completely covered. Use the offset spatula to wipe the excess chocolate from the mold.

Return to the fridge for another 15-20 minutes before gently releasing the chocolates from the mold. Lay the mold flat over a sheet of parchment paper and with just a little pressure the chocolates should pop out. If needed you can tidy any rough edges with a small sharp knife.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comFor extra sparkle, lightly spray the finished chocolates with edible luster dust.

Yield: 24 chocolates.

Red Poblano Pepper Jelly

red poblano pepper jelly from britinthesouth.comI have cooked many times with poblano peppers and until last week all the poblanos I’d ever seen were either a bright and vivid dark green colour or a glossy chocolatey brown.

red poblano pepper jelly from britinthesouth.comSo I was delighted to find some bright red poblanos mixed in with the green at one of my favourite markets and couldn’t resist grabbing a bagful of them. A quick google search led me to rickbayless.com where the Mexican cooking guru enthuses about the red poblano.

Poblanos take a long time to ripen to red so most are plucked from the vine whilst still green, hence their limited availability. I tried his recipe for “fettucine with butternut squash and red poblano crema” and can heartily recommend it.

red poblano pepper jelly from britinthesouth.comThe rest of my pepper haul was destined to make a batch of red poblano pepper jelly, jelly being one of the options for March’s Food in Jars Mastery Challenge. Pepper jelly is one of my preserving staples in the summer when peppers of all shades are abundant in our CSA box, but making it with red poblanos would be a first for me. They are slightly hotter than their green counterparts , with a sweeter, more fruity flavour and, as I discovered, make a fantastic jelly.

I’ve already served it in the classic pairing of goats cheese and pepper jelly but it would also make a great glaze for meat or vegetables, be the perfect condiment for a grilled cheese sandwich, or add a kick when whisked into a salad dressing.

red poblano pepper jelly from britinthesouth.comThe recipe is based on one for “Sparkling Sweet Pepper Jelly” from “The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving”. As the name suggests, this recipe leaves you with small jewel like pieces of pepper suspended in a bright, glowing jelly, making it visually appealing for the table as well as delicious. It also means that you have quite a bit of chopping to do to get the tiny pepper pieces but the result is worth it and once that bit of prep is done it is a pretty simple recipe.

red poblano pepper jelly from britinthesouth.com

Red Poblano Pepper Jelly

1.5 cups finely chopped red poblano peppers

0.75 cup white wine vinegar

3 cups granulated sugar

1 pouch liquid fruit pectin (I used a 3oz pouch of Certo liquid fruit pectin)

Combine the chopped peppers, vinegar and sugar in a non reactive saucepan (stainless steel or enamel).

Bring to the boil over high heat and boil hard for a minute, stirring constantly.

Add the liquid fruit pectin, bring to the boil again and boil hard for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

Ladle the jelly into sterilised jars, leaving half an inch of headspace.

Process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Yield: 3.5 cups

 

 

 

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Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Stilton Sauce

As the name suggests, purple sprouting broccoli is a bright purple cousin of regular broccoli, producing small vivid violet florets.

purple sprouting broccoli with Stilton sauce from britinthesouth.comIt is rarely seen on this side of the Atlantic but holds a special place in the hearts of British vegetable lovers. It is a frost hardy plant that grows slowly through the winter, reaching its peak between February and April, thus providing a welcome burst of colour and flavour in the garden and on the plate when folks are starting to tire of winter but the delights of the spring vegetable garden still seem a long way away.

So imagine my delight to find some recently at one of my local farmers markets.

purple sprouting broccoli with Stilton sauce from britinthesouth.comIt is tender enough to nibble raw so doesn’t need a lot of cooking and whilst a versatile vegetable I find a relatively simple approach is best.

It takes just 2-3 minutes in a steamer to cook, maybe a minute or so longer if the stalks are on the thick or woody side.

It is glorious just dipped into a soft boiled egg but I also like to pair it with a simple blue cheese sauce. Just eat it with your fingers, licking off any stray sauce.

purple sprouting broccoli with Stilton sauce from britinthesouth.com

Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Stilton Sauce

1 bunch purple sprouting broccoli

6 fl.oz (0.75 cup) heavy whipping cream

3oz Stilton cheese

Bring water to a boil in a steamer (if you don’t have one just put a colander above a pan of boiling water)

To make the sauce simply warm the cream over medium heat and crumble in the cheese. Stir regularly until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth (8-10 minutes).

Trim any thick or woody pieces from the end of the broccoli stalks. Place in the steamer and cook until tender, 2-3 minutes.

Remove the broccoli from the steamer and serve immediately, drizzled with the cheese sauce.

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Bara Brith for St.David’s Day

As my wife originates from Wales I try to cook up something Welsh related on March 1st every year to celebrate the feast day of St.David. Last year it was Welsh cakes; this year I turned to another famous baked item from Wales: bara brith.

bara brith from britinthesouth.comBara brith translates from the Welsh into “speckled bread”, a fruity loaf made with dried fruit and mixed spices. The fruit is traditionally steeped in tea overnight to enhance the flavour, and the loaf is typically served sliced and buttered with a cup of tea.

Mixed spice is a peculiarly British blend that seems to have no direct equivalent in the States. The closest thing in the USA is pumpkin pie spice but that is usually too heavy on the cinnamon for my liking, so I mix my own blend from allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves, coriander and ginger.

bara brith from britinthesouth.comThis is a relatively simple recipe. It just needs a little forward planning to soak the fruit in tea the day before you plan to bake it.

Enjoy, and have a happy St.David’s Day, or dydd gŵyl dewi hapus.

Bara Brith

Based on this recipe

1lb dried mixed fruit  (I used a 50/50 mix of sundried raisins and golden raisins)

9oz brown sugar

10 fl.oz. warm black tea (I made a strong brew of English Breakfast Tea)

2 tsp mixed spice (see recipe below)

1lb self raising flour

1 egg, beaten

Mix the fruit and the sugar with the tea and leave to steep overnight.

The following day, preheat the oven to 325F.

bara brith from britinthesouth.comSieve the flour into the fruit and tea mix and then add the mixed spice and the egg. Mix well.

Pour the mix into a loaf tin lined with parchment paper.

Put in the oven and bake for around 70-75 minutes. The bara brith is done when a skewer stuck into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

bara brith from britinthesouth.com

Mixed Spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground nutmeg

0.5 tsp ground mace

0.25 tsp ground ginger

0.25 tsp ground coriander

0.25 tsp ground cloves

Mix the spices together until thoroughly blended. Store in a sealed container. As well as using in this recipe this is a versatile mix that can also be used in other British baking recipes like fruit cake and hot cross buns.

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Collard Green Kimchi

The February topic for the Food In Jars Mastery Challenge was salt preserving. My only previous experience of this was a batch of preserved lemons a few years ago so I thought I would venture into unknown territory and have a go at making kimchi.

collard green kimchi from britinthesouth.comThe winter goodies at one of my local farmers markets included eye catching bunches of young collard green leaves, which I thought would be a good candidate for kimchi with a southern twist.

collard green kimchi from britinthesouth.comThe project also gave me a good excuse to go and explore the aisles of one of the great Asian supermarkets in town to pick up Korean red pepper powder and a big bag of fine Korean sea salt.

The recipe is loosely based on this one from minimalistbaker.com but with quite a few tweaks along the way.

I wanted my kimchi to be vegetarian so the first step was to make a batch of vegetarian fish sauce. For this component I turned to this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for a deeply savoury sauce made from shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce.

While the sauce was cooling I prepped my collards, washing and drying them before cutting them into bite sized pieces and layering with generous amounts of salt. They were then turned regularly for a number of hours, drawing out moisture and leaving the leaves tender. I used young leaves, which are smaller and more tender to start with than regular collard leaves, but they would work although might need a little more time in the salting process to get tender.

While the salting process was taking place I made a spicy paste from ginger, garlic, Korean chili, onion and the vegetarian fish sauce.

collard green kimchi from britinthesouth.comAfter rinsing the excess salt from the collard leaves and patting them dry again they were thoroughly coated with the spice paste before packing into a jar to ferment.

collard green kimchi from britinthesouth.comI was delighted with the result, which tasted great with a good burst of spiciness. I’ll definitely be making more kimchi in the future.

Collard Green Kimchi

Vegetarian Fish Sauce

3 cups water

0.25oz dried shiitake mushrooms

3 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Soak the dried mushrooms in one cup of hot water for 15 to 20 minutes. This makes them easier to slice and you can used the soaking water when cooking to add more shiitake goodness to the final sauce. Make sure to strain out any grit from the soaking liquid.

Slice the mushrooms and add to a small pan with the soaking liquid, 2 more cups of water and the salt and soy sauce. Combine all the ingredients, bring to a boil and then simmer over medium heat until reduced by half, 30 – 40 minutes. Strain and set aside to cool.

Spice Paste

3 tbs fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

10 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

0.25 cup Korean red chili powder

1 small onion, peeled  and roughly chopped

0.5 cup vegetarian fish sauce

Place all ingredients into a food processor and whiz until combined into a paste.

Vegetables

1 small bunch young collard green leaves (5-6oz)

4 green onions, sliced into half inch pieces

Remove the stalks from the collard leaves and slice into bite sized pieces. Wash well, drain and dry. Layer the leaves in a bowl with generous amounts of sea salt between each layer. Weigh the leaves down (I used a nest of smaller bowls) and leave for half an hour. Then turn and massage the leaves, ensuring they are still well coated with salt, weigh down once more and leave for another 30 minutes. Repeat this process a further 3 times, by which time the leaves should have lost some moisture and become noticeably tender.

Rinse the leaves to remove any excess salt and then place on paper towels and pat dry.

Next comes the fun part. Put the leaves in a bowl and add the sliced green onions. Then add the spice paste and mix by hand, making sure the vegetables are thoroughly coated with the paste.

Once well combined pack the mixture into a sterilised jar, pressing it down well. Put the lid on and leave in a cool dark place to ferment. Leave for at least 2-3 days and periodically taste to see how the flavour is developing. Once you are happy with it, put it in the fridge. I left mine for a week before refrigerating.

collard green kimchi from britinthesouth.com

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(Very) Small Batch Cider Making

Throughout the autumn of last year our CSA box was particularly well supplied with apples. As fast as we tried to eat them, dry them, make sauce or preserve them in some other way, before we knew it another week had gone by and we had another pile on our hands.

small batch cider making from britinthesouth.comBy the end of October the surplus had reached the stage where I opted to turn it into cider, or “hard cider” as it is known on this side of the Atlantic. It is not a decision I take lightly as I don’t have a cider press, making it a fairly labour intensive process which doesn’t yield a huge amount of cider, but there is a certain satisfaction to be gained from watching the precious liquid ferment and bubble away and eventually enjoying the fruits of all that work with a chilled glass of the finished product.

small batch cider making from britinthesouth.comThe process I use is basically the one to be found in this video from theperennialplate.com.

First, I wash the apples, before coarsely chopping them, pips and all, and throwing them in a food processor. They are then processed until finely chopped. The resulting chopped apples are then passed through a food mill. This is the most laborious part of the process, but I keep cranking that handle until I get as much pulp out of the apples as I can, leaving behind just a dry apple residue.

small batch cider making from britinthesouth.comDuring this process the apple pulp tends to oxidise, taking on a dark brown colour, but as the cider ferments it always turns a beautiful golden hue, so there is no need to worry.

The final stage is to take the thick pulp from the food mill and leave it to strain through muslin or a jelly bag to yield as much juice as you can. In this case, 17 apples yielded 50 fl.oz of juice.

small batch cider making from britinthesouth.comIn the video on theperennialplate.com they rely on the natural yeasts present on the apples to trigger the fermentation. I prefer to give nature a helping hand, and add champagne yeast to the juice. Yeast sachets from wine making stores are typically enough to ferment 5 gallons so estimate how much to use based on how much juice you have. It is not an exact science so don’t worry about being too precise, and if in doubt, use a little more yeast than you think you need.

small batch cider making from britinthesouth.comPut the juice and yeast in a sanitised glass vessel, seal with an airlock and leave to bubble away for a few weeks until the fermentation activity slows down, the juice clears and a thick layer of sediment forms. In this case it took about 5 weeks. I then syphoned the cider into a fresh fermenting vessel, leaving behind the sediment.

I left this for a couple of weeks until all fermentation had stopped before bottling. My final yield was just enough to fill three 11oz bottles. I added half a teaspoon of granulated sugar to each bottle to ensure a secondary fermentation in the bottle to give the final cider some sparkle.

Leave for at least a couple of weeks for the secondary fermentation to generate some fizz in the bottle. The cider will be good for at least a year. I’ve cracked open dusty bottles from my basement that are 3-4 years old and they are still good.

small batch cider making from britinthesouth.com

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Lime, Lemon & Honey Marmalade

If you wander into a typical British supermarket looking for a jar of marmalade, it is unlikely that you will be disappointed. We love the stuff, so your only problem is going to be making a decision from the choices on offer. The majority of jars will be classic Seville orange marmalade, but even then you’ll have the choice between fine cut, thick cut or even peel free. Then you have variations on the orange theme, with added whisky or ginger, before moving on from oranges to the other citrus fruits.

Lime, Lemon & Honey Marmalade from britinthesouth.comI have never met a marmalade I didn’t like but if pressed for a favourite I think I would have to opt for Rose’s lemon and lime marmalade. The sharpness of the fruit really wakes up your tastebuds, especially on a cold winter’s day. It is fairly easy to find on this side of the Atlantic but I’ve always thought about having a go at making my own version and was finally inspired to do so by the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge, an excellent idea from Marisa of the Food in Jars blog: 12 monthly challenges throughout 2017, each one designed to improve a particular canning or preserving skill. January’s challenge is marmalade, so I had no excuse not to give it a try.

Lime, Lemon & Honey Marmalade from britinthesouth.comIn looking for a recipe I was spoilt for choice. My well stocked shelf of preserving books offered many possibilities before I even ventured online. In the end I opted for one of my most used volumes, “The River Cottage Preserves Handbook” by Pam Corbin. As well as writing and appearing on TV, Pam used to own a preserves company and is a judge at the World Marmalade Awards, so is well qualified.

You can find a clip of her making Seville orange marmalade here.

Lime, Lemon & Honey Marmalade from britinthesouth.comI went with her whole fruit recipe but tweaked it a little, replacing some of the sugar with local honey. The whole fruit method is quicker and easier than the sliced fruit technique of marmalade making but can result in a less delicate and slightly more bitter final product. I made a few batches of this recipe, using different proportions of limes to lemons and was delighted with the final marmalade every time although I finally settled on a 50:50 ratio as my favourite. It sets well, and has a wonderful balance of sharpness from the fruit, sweetness from the sugar and honey, and a pleasant, slightly bitter, finish.

Lime, Lemon & Honey Marmalade from britinthesouth.comIt is worth making just to fill your kitchen with that wonderful citrus aroma on a cold January day.

Lemon, Lime and Honey Marmalade

1lb fruit, preferably unwaxed (I went with approximately 50% limes / 50% lemons but you can tweak the ratio to your taste)

4 cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup honey

Scrub the fruit, place in a pan and add 6 cups (48fl.oz) water to cover. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the fruit is tender and the skin can be easily pierced with a fork (about an hour).

Remove from the heat and leave until the fruit is cool enough to handle. Make sure you keep the cooking water.

Slice the fruit in half and use a teaspoon to remove the pulp from the peel. Put the pulp in a sieve over a bowl, remove and discard any seeds but retain the pulp and juice.

Then slice the rinds to your desired thickness. I went for a fine shred, which is a little more time consuming but I simply prefer a finer shred in my final marmalade rather than thick chunks.

Put the sliced fruit, retained pulp and juice and 3 cups (24fl.oz) of the retained cooking liquid into a pan, and add the granulated sugar and honey. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Bring to a rolling boil and boil rapidly until the setting point is reached. Between my different batches this took anywhere from 25-35 minutes, so it is best to check that you’ve achieved the setting point.  Just to be on the safe side, I used two different tried and tested techniques to make sure. I used a thermometer to check when it had reached 220 degrees F, and then to be certain I did a “crinkle” test, dropping a little bit of marmalade onto a saucer that had been in the freezer for a few minutes. After letting it cool for a minute or so, if it crinkles when you push it with your fingertip, you are good to go.

Remove from the heat and leave for a couple of minutes. Stir gently to disperse any scum that has formed on the surface during the boiling.

Pour the marmalade into sterilised jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace and then process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes. If you need to know more about water bath canning there is a good introductory guide on the Ball canning website.

Yield: Five 8oz jars

Lime, Lemon & Honey Marmalade from britinthesouth.com

 

 

 

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“Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread”

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comIt is not usually a good thing to have something lurking about your kitchen for years on end, quietly fermenting, but when the item is question is a sourdough starter it is a wonderful thing indeed. It requires a little care and attention and regular feeding but pays back time and time again, adding that gorgeous sour tang to breads and pizza dough.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comMy starter is a relative youngster, which will celebrate its 5th birthday later this year. I sometimes use it to make”real” sourdough bread, without the need for added yeast, but that takes a little forward planning, so often, when feeding time rolls around, I take the cup of unfed sourdough starter that would otherwise be discarded and use it to add a delicious sour dough note to a conventionally made dough. Usually that is just a loaf or a batch of pizza dough but occasionally I feel like doing something different.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comAs I write this we’re in the middle of that cold post-Christmas stretch of January when spring seems so far away. I’m cooking a lot of soups and stews and wanted something a little different on the bread front to go with a batch of soup. Months ago I’d jotted down an idea for adding cheddar and cider to bread and now seemed like an ideal time to experiment. When I say cider, I always mean what is known as “hard cider” in the USA, i.e. the one with alcohol in it.

The recipe is similar to one I use for making regular bread but instead of water I used cider, a bottle of homemade from 2012 which was still surprisingly good, and I added a generous amount of grated cheddar. This will work best with a strong and/or aged cheddar. I used one that was a bit like me: aged and English.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comThe dough came together easily in a mixer with a dough hook and after rising it was simply a case of dividing and shaping it into rolls and arranging them in a skillet to rise again before cooking.

I was delighted with the result. The bread was soft and delicious with both the cider and cheese coming through in the final bread but in a subtle way. It was tasty enough to eat by itself, but even better with butter or a hunk of cheese, and it made a great accompaniment to home made soup.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread

1 cup unfed sourdough starter

1 cup cider

1 tsp salt

1 tsp instant yeast

2.5 cups all purpose flour

2 cups grated cheddar

Put all the ingredients in a bowl. I use a stand mixer with a dough hook but you could do it by hand of you prefer. Knead for 6-7 minutes until the dough is smooth.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and leave until it has doubled in size. Don’t worry if it takes a while: my dough took about 4 hours.

Place the risen dough on a lightly floured surface. Gently deflate it and then and divide and shape into 7 equal sized rolls. Line an ovenproof skillet with baking parchment and arrange the rolls into a “daisy” pattern as shown below. Make sure the rolls are touching each other.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comCover and leave to rise again for about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Just before putting the dough in the oven give the top of the bread a quick spritz of water from a spray bottle to help get a golden crust. Cook until golden brown on top and the base sounds hollow when you give it a tap, about 40 minutes.

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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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