It’s hard to find time to make and bake when Christmas is galloping towards us, but I do find it relaxing to make simple seasonal sweetmeats, and sometimes they make a good gift too. These Christmas pudding truffles don’t require any cooking, so they’re super-easy. I have two versions, one with all the sugar, and one without any refined sugars.
For the unsweetened version, you need:
1tbsn ground almonds
50g desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1tbspn agave syrup
In a food processor or blender, whizz up the cashew nuts (you could also use pecans). Add the cranberries, almonds, peanut butter and agave syrup. Blitz them together until combined. Shape the mixture into small balls and put in the fridge to cool. I garnish mine with a sprig of rosemary from the garden. I like the slightly herby taste with the sweet truffle.
For all the sugars, try this recipe…
(I did this one, they are lush)…
You will need:
75g unsalted butter
200g madeira cake
50g glace cherries
25g chopped dried figs
25g pecans, walnuts or cashews
Teaspoon of vanilla essence
- Put the cake in a blender or processor and whizz it up to crumbs. Add the dried fruits and pulse a few times until they are roughly chopped. Alternatively you can do the chopping by hand.
- Put the butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until they melt together (don’t let your bowl touch the water or the chocolate will go grainy).
- Tip the crumbs and fruit mix into the bowl of chocolate. Sir and allow to cool until it is firm.
- Roll the mixture into small balls, and put on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Add a sprig of rosemary and pop them back into the fridge until you’re ready to eat or gift them.
I used a small wooden vintage box lined with parchment to gift these, but any recycled box covered with gift wrap would look good.
I love making a Christmas cake. I never do it weeks ahead, and it always tastes fine. I always use Delia Smith’s recipe, I’ve been seduced away from it a few times, but nothing every works as well, and you can find it on her website. I do customise it a bit, I don’t like candied peel, so I use chopped figs or apricots instead. Even if you make it just three weeks ahead, you can still feed it a couple of times with some brandy before you ice the top. This year I found some amazing glace Morello cherries in Morrisons. They’re so sweet and juicy, almost black in colour. My health food shop usually has a good selection of figs and dried fruit too. My top tip for Christmas cake is to double line the outside of the tin with brown paper, to stop it burning and tasting too dry. I also double line the top of the cake with parchment.
My cake for this year isn’t iced or marzipanned yet, but this was last year’s…
I use an icing recipe from the Violet Bakery, it’s soft, tangy and lemony, and not cloyingly sweet. Seriously, it’s dreamy.
1 egg white
Pinch of salt
350g golden icing sugar
2 tbspn lemon juice
Whip up the egg white and salt until frothy. Add the icing sugar gradually. Add the lemon juice and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread over the cake.
And if none of those recipes float your boat, you can’t beat a plate of freshly baked crisp, spicy ginger nuts to serve with a festive tea.
You will need:
110g self raising flour
A slightly rounded teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40g granulated sugar
Two tablespoons golden syrup
- Sift the flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, and rub in the margarine with your fingertips until it is crumbly.
- Add the syrup and stir until it forms a paste.
- Divide the mixture into about 16 small balls (they will spread). Flatten each one slightly with a fork, and put in an oven at gas mark 5, 375 degrees, for about 15 minutes. Cool and store in a tin.