Wednesday 13 December 2017

Edible gifts: Three easy and quick ideas

These three ideas are so easy and quick to make, but you must resist the temptation to nibble too much, writes Katy McGuinness

Caramel Fudge.
Caramel Fudge.
Chocolate Truffles.
Peppermint Bark.

There are so many cute and inexpensive containers around at the moment (in shops such as Tiger) that there's no excuse not to spend a few hours one of these evenings making some edible gifts to use over the Christmas season. Here are three very simple recipes that children will be able to make with supervision.

I spotted a good range of preserving jars in my local SuperValu too, if you are thinking about making jams or chutneys. Don't make your gifts too far in advance, though, and be sure to label them with a list of ingredients, storage instructions and a 'use before' date.

You can get ahead by making a list of the number of gifts that you want to be able to distribute, and gathering together the ingredients, storage jars, tins, tissue paper, labels and ribbons. Check out Pinterest for ideas as to how best to present your gifts.

Salted Caramel Fudge

Makes 64 pieces

1 x 397g tin condensed milk

80g butter

150g soft light-brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

A good pinch of sea salt

Line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment and have a glass of ice-cold water handy as you'll need it to test that the fudge is ready.

Over a low heat, and using a heavy-bottomed pan, melt the condensed milk, butter, sugar and vanilla together, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to make sure that the sugar doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan.

Then turn up the heat and bring to a fast boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 10 minutes. Put a drop of the fudge into the glass and if it drops to the bottom and forms a soft, ball shape then it's ready.

Remove the mixture from the heat and add a good pinch of sea salt, stir and leave to cool for a few minutes. Then stir again for about another six to seven minutes until it firms up.

Spread the mixture evenly into the lined tin, sprinkle a little more flaky sea salt across the top, and cool at room temperature for a couple of hours before cutting into squares.

This will keep for up to three weeks before eating if stored in an airtight container.

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Makes 48 truffles

400g 70% dark chocolate, chopped

170ml double cream

2 tsp vanilla extract

Cocoa powder for dusting

Put the chocolate, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over a very low heat and warm until everything is melted and fully combined.

Allow to cool and chill in the fridge for about 90 minutes until firm. Divide the mixture into four and then, using a teaspoon and clean hands, make 12 spherical truffles from each quarter. Dust with cocoa powder.

These last for four days, but freeze for a month so can be made ahead.

Variation: give these truffles a kick by adding a pinch or two of chilli powder.

Peppermint Bark

900g chocolate, your  choice of white or dark

6 candy canes, crushed into chunks

Peppermint essence to taste

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water. When it is melted, add the crushed candy canes and a couple of teaspoons of peppermint essence to taste.

Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet covered with baking parchment, and place in the fridge or freezer until set.

Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

This is best eaten soon after it's made, so it's an ideal gift to bring somewhere you know that it will be opened on the spot. This is enough for about four small gifts.

Irish Independent

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