The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Every year, my inner Martha Stewart pokes her head out mid-November and starts deciding what mammoth baking tasks she wishes to attempt for Christmas.
This year, she committed to preparing Christmas Hampers for our business clients, from scratch – baking, decorating, the works.

I am compelled to let her use my body for her wicked demands because after all, it is only once a year…

Day One – The Assault
Fudges & Peppermint Creams

Salted Caramel Fudge
(www.taste.com.au/recipes/26110/salted+caramel+fudge)

Ingredients
395g can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons glucose syrup
1/4 cup golden syrup
125g butter, chopped
180g white chocolate, finely chopped – I used Cadbury White (proper eating chocolate)
1 tsp sea salt flakes

1. Grease a pan, 4cm deep x 20cm (base) square cake pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang on all sides.
2. Place condensed milk, sugar, glucose syrup, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, without boiling, for 10 minutes or until mixture is glossy and sugar has dissolved.
3. Increase heat to medium-low. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook, stirring constantly, for 6-8 minutes or until mixture thickens and comes away from side of pan.
Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until combined and melted. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth top. Sprinkle with salt, pressing in with the back of a spoon to secure.
Set aside for 30 minutes then cover with plastice wrap. Refrigerate for 6 hrs or until firm.
4. Cut into 2.5cm pieces. Serve.

Nutrition: Energy – 273kj; Saturated Fat – 2.00g; Fat Total – 3.10g; Total Carbohydrates – 9.10g; Protein – 0.70g; Cholesterol – 8.00mg; Sodium – 64mg

salted caramel beginning salted caramel before chocolate added
Take a look into my pot of heart attack

salted caramel with added chocolate salted caramel after chocolate stirred in

salted caramel

salted caramel finished


You see that I didn’t use sea salt flakes. I’m not sure if I wish that I had – I don’t think it would have made much of a difference. I did use proper sea salt, freshly ground. I guess the flakes would have been more attractive, but taste wise I think it would have mattered.

Tips:
– Don’t look away! Sugar heats up super quick as does milk and you know, this entire pot was exactly that – milky sugar. 
– Keep on stirring – use a metal spoon.

Thoughts:
This recipe was super simple to make. I have never, ever actually made fudge before – my mother made us some for Christmas last year, but it had a different texture to it and she admittedly stated that it wasn’t great fudge. I think I was worried that all home-made fudge would come out that way! And pleasantly wrong.
This needs to be eaten within a few days, the salt starts to weep a little after a while. Makes the salt kick TOO salty, but you can always just wipe that off and scoff the fudge anyway. Don’t waste good fudge!
Also, I just realised that I didnt use golden syrup in this one – but it was perfectly awesome anyway.

Repeat Offender?
Hells to the eff yeah! When something this simple can taste this good, its definitely worth doing time and time again.
Fudge makes for great gifting! And honestly, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it.

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Chocolate and Walnut Fudge
(www.taste.com.au/recipes/18559/chocolate+and+walnut+fudge)

Ingredients
395g can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
100g unsalted butter, cubed
2 tbs glucose syrup
200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped – I used Cadbury Old Gold (70% cocoa)
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1. Grease a 4.5cm-deep, 7.5cmx25cm (base) cake pan. Line with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang along both long ends.
Place condensed milk, sugar, butter and glucose syrup in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Cook stirring constantly, for 8 minutes or until sugar has dissolved and mixture is smooth.
2. Increase heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until mixture is thick and caramel coloured. Remove from heat.
Add chocolate and walnuts. Stir to combine. Spoon mixture into prepared pan.
Set aside for 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until set.
3. Remove fudge from pan. Discard baking paper. Place fudge on a board. Cut into squares.

Nutrition: None (LOL)

choc walnut fudge stage choc walnut adding choc and walnut in pot

choc and walnuts close up choc walnut setting

choc walnut setting close up

choc walnut finished

Tips:
– Again with the stirring. Dont look away, you simply dont have time – take the pot with you!
– Use a metal spoon.

Thoughts:
This fudge is really thick – it takes a bit of coaxing to spread it evenly in the pan. You may think that it has separated, but it really hasnt – dont panic! I think that maybe I chopped my nuts too much…

Repeat Offender?
I discovered, Im not a fan of nutty fudge. I cant actually recall eating it in the past. To be honest, I dont have many fudge eating memories so thats no real suprise.
For true fudge fans, maybe this one would appeal – I think I just didnt like the texture, it didnt feel like fudge. Not to mention, it was holy crap rich!
I wont be making this one again, because I want to eat the fudge I make, dammit.

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Choc-Caramel Fudge
(www.taste.com.au/recipes/26112/choc+caramel+fudge)

Ingredients
395g can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbs glucose syrup
125g butter, chopped
90g dark chocolate, finely chopped – I used Cadbury Old Gold (70% cocoa)
1 tbs golden syrup
90g white chocolate, finely chopped – I used Cadbury White

1. Grease a pan 4cm deep, 20cm (base) square cake pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang on all sides.
2. Place half the condensed milk, half the sugar, half the glucose syrup and half the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, without boiling for 5-6 minutes or until mixture is glossy and sugar has dissolved.
3. Increase heat to medium-low. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes or until mixture thickens and comes away from side of pan. Remove from h eat.
Stir in dark chocolate until combined and melted. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth top. Set aside for 30 minutes.
4. Wash and dry saucepan (or use another). Place remaining condensed milk, remaining sugar, remaining glucose syrup, remaining butter and golden syrup in pan over low heat. Cook, stirring, without boiling, for 5-6 minutes or until mixture is glossy and sugar has dissolved.
5. Increase heat to medium-low. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook, stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes or until mixture thickens and comes away from side of pan. Remove from heat.
Stir in white chocolate until combined and melted. Spoon over fudge in pan. Set aside for 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 hours or until firm.
6. Cut into 2.5cm pieces. Serve.

Nutrition: None (mwahahaha)

choc caramel in pot  choc caramel setting

choc caramel choc in pan setting

choc caramel finished

Tips:
– Make sure you let the chocolate set for the full 30mins otherwise when you add the caramel mixture, they will blend and it will be wrong.
– You can see I had run out of pans at this stage, plastic containers will work just fine!

Thoughts:
So simple, so easy. So tasty. This fudge set really well.

Repeat Offender?
Yes! This one was very, very nice. The chocolate wasn’t overbearing and it was light and naughty. It has kept well, and will still be around for Christmas which is also great 😀

OMG I just had an idea….BACON FUDGE o.O

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Peppermint Creams
(www.taste.com.au/recipes/564/peppermint+creams)

Ingredients
2 egg whites
4 cups (600g) pure icing sugar
1/4 tsp peppermint essence
400g good-quality dark cooking chocolate, melted – I used Cadbury Old Gold (70% cocoa) proper eating chocolate 😛

1. Place egg whites in a clean, dry bowl. Using a balloon whisk, whisk until frothy. Add icing sugar and peppermint essence.
Using a wooden spoon, stir until mixture almost comes together. Using clean hands, bring mixture together to form a ball.
2. Turn mixture onto a clean surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Knead until smooth and not sticky. Work in extra incing sugar if necessary.
Place mixture between 2 large sheets of baking paper lightly dusted with icing sugar. Roll out until 1cm thick.
3. Line 2 large, flat baking trays with baking paper. Using a 3.5cm round cutter, cut rounds out of dough. Press leftover dough together and repeat.
Place rounds on prepared trays. Set aside, uncovered, overnight, turning over once to allow peppermint creams to dry out.
4. Half-dip each peppermint cream in melted chocolate (make sure chocolate is not too hot or it will melt the peppermint mixture). Return peppermint creams to trays.
Refrigerate until chocolate has set.

Nutrition: None XD

peppermint creams rolled out  peppermint creams cut out close

peppermint creams close up drying  peppermint cream dipping chocolate

Peppermint creams dipped and setting

peppermint creams finished

Tips:
– Have extra icing sugar on hand, YOU WILL NEED IT. And be generous with it otherwise you will end up with a hard, sticky cement-like mess all over your bench.
– Cover with a tea-towel whilst they sit out over night.
– Make sure the chocolate is cool enough to dip your finger in and feel no warmth, otherwise it will melt the cream.
– Use any shaped cutters you like, as you can see I chose Christmas Trees!
– When dipping in chocolate, don’t hold onto the creams to hard – they will just break off as they are so delicate. Also, don’t hang onto them for too long – body heat will result in the same thing.
– After adding essence, taste dough – add more if not peppermint-y enough (I did).

Thoughts: 
Surprisingly simple to make. I’m a HUGE fan of peppermint or anything mint. I always loved the Peppermint Creams you could get in the shop (are they still around??) and these gave me that same happy om nom nom feeling.

Repeat Offender?
Mhmm. LOL of course! Best thing about these, was that Eric isn’t a huge fan of peppermint so guess who gets to enjoy them!

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And that was the end of Day One – The Assault.

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