Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas giving


Photos by Steve Shanahan
First published 5 December 2012 Canberra Times and

There are gifts that are wrapped with tizzy paper and topped with beautiful ribbons and cards, and there are gifts that are hand made specially with love. It's such a treat seeing your handmade gifts, opened on the spot and then devoured bite by bite.

Mulled cranberry and apple jelly

Makes 1.4 litres

This spiced jelly is perfect with  roast lamb, beef, turkey or pork. It is also equally delicious on toast. I added an extra star anise to each jar, by holding the star anise in place with a skewer and allowing it to set before removing the skewer.

1kg of Granny Smith apples
450g frozen cranberries, thawed
3 lemons, chopped
1 and 1/2 tbsp whole cloves
4 cinnamon quills
4 star anise
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
approximately 1.5kg of caster sugar
2 tbs red wine vinegar

Chop the apples, don't peel or core them, and place in a large saucepan with berries, lemon, spices, zest, juice and 6 cups of water, stirring to combine.

Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes until apples are soft. Don't squash the fruit or your jelly will be cloudy.

Line a large colander with muslin or a new Chux and set over a large bowl. Pour in fruit mixture and stand for 4 hours to drain. Don't squeeze the fruit as this will make the jelly cloudy.

Sterilise 5 small jars about 300ml each with their lids. Chill a small saucer in the freezer.

Discard the fruit pulp and measure the volume of liquid. Weigh out the sugar, allowing one cup to every cup of liquid. Combine sugar, juice and vinegar in a clean pan over low heat. Stir for five minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, stop stirring and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 45 minutes, skimming occasionally until thick and syrupy. Test if it's ready by spooning a little of the jelly onto the cold saucer, push your finger through it, if it wrinkles and your finger leaves a trail, it is ready. If not, return to the boil and test every five minutes until it's ready.  It should be 105C on a sugar thermometer.

When it's ready, take off the heat and let it settle for a few minutes. Ladle jelly into a sterilised jug, pour into sterilised prepared jars, then seal. Allow to set in a cool, dark place for a day, then keep for up to three months.

Hungarian chocolate salami

Photo Steve Shanahan

210g ground dark chocolate
210g ground walnuts
50g prunes, chopped
1 egg
70g caster sugar
2 tbsp rum
vanilla paste

Makes two logs.

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is combined.

Line a tray with baking paper.

Tip the mixture out onto a board dusted with icing sugar and roll into two sausages and roll to cover with icing sugar.

Place the chocolate rolls onto the baking paper lined tray and leave in a cool place to dry out for two days.

When the rolls have hardened and dried a little, slice each roll very thinly and store in an airtight container. The chocolate salami will keep for two weeks in an airtight container in the cupboard.

You can wrap the chocolate rolls in cellophane and tie the ends, bon-bon style, and give as a gift.

Chocolate panforte in a bag

Photo Steve Shanahan
Makes about 40 pieces

1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup honey
50g unsalted butter
300g fruit mince
1 and 1/2 cup plain flour, sifted
1 cup cocoa powder, softed
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
grated zest of one orange
100g roasted and chopped hazelnuts
100g chopped pistachios
100g chopped macadamias
1/2 cup chopped dried figs
icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 160C and line an 18cm x 28cm lamington tin with baking paper.
Stir sugar, honey, butter and mince in a pan over low heat for three to five minutes until the sugar dissolves.  Sift the flour, cocoa and spices into a large bowl. Add zest, nuts, figs, fruit mince mixture and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine well, it will be quite stiff. Tip into the prepared pan and use wet hands to smooth the top.

Bake for 15 minutes until firm on top. Cool in the pan, then invert onto a cutting board and dust with icing sugar. Cut lengthways into five thin sections, then cut widthways into 8 sections to form about forty 3cm squares. Keep for up to one month in an airtight container in the fridge,then pack into cellophane bags and tie the tops with ribbon.