Monday, November 29, 2010

Sweets and Candies For Christmas

There is a long and distinguished tradition of preparing home-made sweets and candies, especially chocolate-based candies for Christmas. These candies can be used as after-dinner treats to accompany coffee they can also be used as treats for children.

However, in these times of economic uncertainty home-made chocolate candies can be wonderful gifts. Indeed, if you choose the right kinds of chocolate and the correct fillings they can be much richer and healthier than shop-bought candies.

Here I present two classic Christmas candies. The first designed as a 'fancy' or a sweet used at the table whereas the second is intended to be produced on a large scale as a gift.

Christmas Pudding Truffles

175g digestive biscuit (Graham cracker) crumbs
50g dried fruit (eg apples, dates, figs, raisins, currants, sultanas), chopped
50g toasted mixed nuts, chopped
50g ground almonds
50g raspberry or blackcurrant jam
grated zest of
1 orange
brandy or dark rum, to taste
white marzipan
candied angelica (or green cherries)
glacé cherries
icing sugar
dark chocolate or cocoa powder

Mix the biscuit crumbs, dried fruit, nuts, ground almonds, jam and orange zest in a large bowl. Add enough of the rum to form a stiff mixture. Form this mix into walnut-sized balls and lightly coat in cocoa powder, or dip in melted chocolate and allow to set.

Decorate the top with a small piece of white marzipan to resemble icing and add glacé cherries and angelica to resemble holly berries and leaves.

Chocolate Truffles

240ml double cream
300g dark (at least 70% cocoa solids) chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp unsalted butter
500g dark (at least 70% cocoa solids) chocolate, chopped (for coating)

In a heavy pan, bring the cream to a simmer (a microwave and a glass bowl is just as good for this). Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate and butter. (The smaller they are cut up, the easier this will be.) Once the chocolate has been incorporated, allow to cool and refrigerate until firmly set, stirring now and then. In the refrigerator compartment (this will take about 4 hours). Use the freezer and you can cut that down to under an hour, but with much more frequent stirring.

Using a melon baller or spoon, scoop out a tablespoon or so of chocolate and use your hands to form balls about 2 to 3 cm in diameter. Spread them on a baking sheet and freeze for an hour. While the balls are freezing, chop and carefully heat, in a bain-marie (double boiler) or heavy pot, the chocolate for the coating. Stir until melted. Allow to slowly cool until it feels just warm to your skin. The object is to have it just above the melting point so that when the frozen chocolate balls are dipped in it, they gather and congeal a thickish coating around them.

When the centers of the chocolate balls are frozen and the molten chocolate is ready, take each ball and drop it into the coating, roll it quickly about, then remove it with the tines of two forks and drop it onto a sheet of wax paper. If the coating thickens too much, reheat it a little, perhaps using a microwave.

When all the truffles are dipped, you can serve them right away. If they will be stored or transported, refrigerate them a while longer first.

Dyfed Lloyd Evans is the creator of the Celtnet Recipes website where you can find hundreds more recipes for sweets and candies as well as a selection of recipes for Christmas foods that range all the way from ancient times to the modern day.

Thanks To : all clad copper core 3 quart saute with lid


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