Every year I make the family members homemade food gifts. Now we’ve all got children, we buy presents for the kids, and don’t bother with the adults (except the in laws). The rest I do family gifts, and that means Christmas treats in the way of food.
In the past I’ve done fudge, biscuits, candied oranges and others, but this year I did a mix. I always do some fudge because everyone loves that, and added some chocolatey ‘kisses’ pretzels and tried out biscotti for the first time.
Easy chocolate cranberry fudge
I love fudge. While I do have a sugar thermometer, I usually use a quick microwave version, because why spend more time making when you are already in a rush with all the other Christmas preparation that’s going on.
307g/can Condensed milk
1 tsp Vanilla extract
100g Plain chocolate (or milk if you want sweeter fudge)
1, Put the condensed milk, cream, and broken up chocolate in a bowl, and in the microwave until melted, stirring intermittently.
2, Add the vanilla and cranberries and stir in. The mixture should be starting to thicken
3, Pour or spoon into a 20cm square tin, lined with clingfilm.
4, Put into the fridge to set for a few hours
5, Lift out, cut into small squares and package up in a gift box (or eat straight away).
The fudge should keep in a fridge in an airtight container for the best part of a week.
Alternatively, instead of vanilla extract, add a tsp of peppermint extract (to taste), and top fudge with smashed up candy canes (slightly pushed in before it sets).
I love chocolate pretzels and the last time I used marshmallows to make reindeer it was delicious and cut, but a bit of a pain. These kisses (or rolo) pretzels are so much quicker to make. In fact, the longest bit of preparation is unwrapping the Hershey kisses.
Now I’m not a big fan of Hershey’s chocolate. Let’s face it, if you’re European, you know that chocolate should and does taste a lot better. But, with the addition of a salty savoury pretzel it helps take away the sweetness. You can use any of the Hershey kiss style chocolates, but we used the white cookies and cream flavour hugs ones.
Hersheys kisses (or variations)
1, Lay the pretzels flat on a baking sheet
2, Unwrap the hersheys chocolates and place one on each pretzel
3, Put in a preheated oven, on low heat for about 5 minutes until the chocolate is just starting to melt
4, Remove from the oven and gently top, pushing down slightly to stick, a m&m onto each one like a reindeer nose
5, Leave to cool then put in gift bags or into an airtight container until eating
If you can’t get hold of Hershey’s Kisses, then Rolos also work well for a salted caramel type of flavour.
It’s strange because I don’t like mixed peel in cakes, but I really like dried candied oranges. Now obviously you can dry out orange slices and other citrus fruits to make natural decorations, but add sugar and a bit of chocolate and they taste delicious and go down well as a food gift.
Orange citrus – satsumas, clementines or tangerines
Chocolate – dark preferably
1, Slice the oranges around 5mm thick
2, On a baking sheet with greaseproof paper on, lay out your orange slices
3, Sprinkle over the sugar. I dipped my orange slices in the sugar, but it does make a bit of a mess with a lot of dissolved sugar. Probably best to sprinkle!
4, Put in a preheated oven on low (150C max) for hours. Just leave in as long as it takes to dry them out a bit, flipping halfway and adding some sugar to the second side if needed. You don’t want them crispy and totally dry, but you want them to not be soggy any more. Mine were in for a good 2-3 hours but it’ll depend on the temperature of your oven. Then take out and leave to cool
5, Melt chocolate in the microwave or basin over a pan of simmering water. Leave it to cool a bit, then dip one half of each orange slice in before laying on a greaseproof sheet of paper to set.
These look so pretty, and are really tasty. I always have too many clementines that no-one then gets round to eating, so it’s a great way to use them up before they go off. These will last about 4-5 days in a sealed container.
The biscotti was a disaster, so I think it needs more work!
Do you make Christmas treats or gifts for family and friends?