This is such a classic Christmas combination. Tart cranberries and sweet fragrant orange combined with all the luxury and indulgence we deserve at this time of year. Panna cotta is also a fantastic dessert for the festive season, when we’re all so busy and could […]
A homemade gift is always extra special. It’s the fact that you’ve gone to the trouble to make something for someone rather than just buying them something. This makes a really nice little stocking filler.
It doesn’t use very much wool and works up very quickly. It’s just a case of working rows of half double crochet back and forth until the cosy is long enough to wrap around a mug. It’s the perfect thing to snuggle up by the fire with!
Our annual festive fudge making session is done and dusted for another year! I missed out last year because we didn’t come back from Maryland for Christmas and my friend Rach had to go solo.
This year we got to revive the tradition though with this yummy dark chocolate topped ginger version. It’s gorgeously creamy with a lovely little fiery warmth from the crystallised ginger. The dark chocolate adds a little extra indulgence, which no-one can refuse at this time of year!
Cuts into 12 big pieces
400g condensed milk
250g soft brown sugar
200g granulated sugar
75g crystallised ginger
100g dark chocolate
Line a deep-sided tin or a baking dish with greaseproof paper and set it to one side.
Combine everything but the ginger and chocolate in a large pan and melt it together over a low heat. Stir it constantly to make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved.
Increase the heat ever so slightly and bring the mixture to boiling point. Let the mixture bubble away and stir it occasionally (carefully, you don’t want to splash hot molten fudge on yourself!) to stop the mixture catching on the bottom of the pan and burning. Let the mixture bubble for about 10 minutes, it should darken a little and have reached ‘soft ball’ stage when it’s done. You can check for ‘soft ball’ using a sugar thermometer or by dropping a little of the mixture into some ice-water. It should form, you guessed it, a soft ball.
Remove the pan from the heat, ideally put it on a cool, heat proof surface and start to beat the life out of the fudge using a wooden spoon. Beat the fudge until it becomes very thick and creamy.
Roughly chop the ginger and stir it into the fudge before pouring the whole lot into the prepared tin. Spread it out and smooth off the top and then leave the fudge to firm up and set.
Melt the chocolate and then spread it in a generous layer on top of the set fudge before leaving to cool and set and then cutting into chunks.
I think there’s still just about enough time to squeeze in one last moment of indulgence before we all embark on the inevitable dessert-purgatory that is January. Even I might try to exercise some self-control (no promises though, okay…)
But until the clock strikes 12 we can enjoy this. Today is also my Mum’s birthday and I’m pretty sure that she would approve of this truly decadent dessert. Golden sponge soaked in a boozy orange syrup smothered in a rich truffle ganache and a very soft, light, mousse and finished off with fresh whipped cream. I’ve decorated mine with some orange meringues simply because I’ve apparently become the sort of person who has that kind of thing hanging around the pantry!
Here I’ve used the orange sponge from my cranberry & orange Victoria sponge, using quantities for one egg. If you do this it’s best to bake it in a smaller tin or as cupcakes, otherwise it’ll be really thin. You can of course use a shop-bought sponge if you want to save yourself a bit of time, it doesn’t necessarily have to be orange flavoured.
enough orange flavoured sponge cake to line the base of your serving dish
juice of 1 orange
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp orange liqueur
Chocolate truffle ganache
75g dark chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
zest of 1 orange
90g milk chocolate
3 eggs (separated)
1 tbsp bandy
pinch of salt
125ml double cream
dark chocolate to decorate (I also used tiny orange flavoured meringues)
Start by making the orange syrup. Combine the orange juice and sugar in a small pan and heat them until the sugar has dissolved and the juice has reduced a bit. Remove the pan from the heat and add the orange liqueur. Leave this to cool a little.
Cut the sponge into cubes and use them to line the base of your serving dish. Spoon the orange syrup over the sponge making sure that each piece of sponge soaks up some of the liquid. Let this sit at room temperature whilst you make the chocolate ganache.
Put all the ingredients for the sauce into a small pan and gently melt them together over a very low heat. Stir the mixture constantly to ensure that the chocolate doesn’t burn or seize. Once it has melted and combined pour the warm ganache over the sponge layer. Now put the dish in the fridge to chill out for a little while, just whilst you make the mousse layer.
Break up the milk chocolate and put it in a bowl, set over a pan of gently simmering water. Melt the chocolate, stirring it occasionally and then remove it from the heat. Quickly stir in the brandy. This might cause the chocolate to thicken a little but don’t panic as long as it isn’t grainy. Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate, one at a time, whilst it’s still warm and then leave the mixture to cool.
Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl along with the salt, until they hold a stiff peak. Beat one tablespoon of the egg whites into the chocolate to lighten the mixture. Follow this by very carefully, using a large metal spoon, folding in the remaining egg whites, a couple of spoons at a time until it is all incorporated and you have a light airy mousse.
Pour this on top of the cooled chocolate ganache layer and then return the dish to the fridge and forget about for a couple of hours so that the mousse can set more firmly.
Finally whip the cream so that it holds soft peaks and then spread it all over the top of the trifle. Finish off with a little chocolate (or meringue) decoration and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it.