December 22, 2010

Christmas Trees with Chocolate Orange Cream

If you're looking to add an unforgettable dessert to your holiday feast this year, I urge you to give these delightful little Christmas Trees a go!

With their colourful appearance and festive charm, these desserts are sure to be a memorable addition to any holiday table.

The glasses are filled with a rich, velvety chocolate orange cream and are topped with dark chocolate covered sugar cones and crushed Smarties.

Feel free to dress the cones in whatever style, colour or flavour you please.  White chocolate and crushed peppermint candies would make for a deliciously festive tree! Or how about milk chocolate and crushed hazelnuts, almonds or pistachios?

The chocolate cream is versatile too.  I love the subtle hint of orange zest,  but mint extract, coffee liqueur or a pinch or two of cayenne pepper are all wonderful additions.


Onto a slightly different note: A few months ago, I told you I was working on a 'special creation'. Well it turns out that it might be ready a little earlier than expected.  I have been informed by my doctor that the timer could go off at any moment! I am tired, anxious, excited, curious but more importantly; I am ready.  It has been almost nine months after all!  ; )

Have fun, stay warm and happy baking!

Christmas Trees with Chocolate Orange Cream
Adapted from Verrines by Jose Marechal

Chocolate Orange Cream:
Fills approximately 10-12 small glasses

300ml heavy pouring cream
200ml milk
70g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
200g good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Finley grated zest of one orange

Heat the milk and cream together in a saucepan over a low heat to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat.

Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together in a bowl and then add to the hot cream, stirring constantly. Return the pan to a low heat and stir until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and add the dark chocolate and orange zest.  Stir until smooth.  Fill the glasses with the cream and refrigerate for at least two hours or preferably overnight.

Chocolate Trees:
8-12 ice cream cones
200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Crushed Smarties to decorate

Place the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth.

Starting with one at a time, paint the cones with the melted chocolate using a pastry brush and leave for 30 seconds or so before sticking on the Smarties. Repeat with remaining cones and refrigerate for 10 minutes or for up to 24 hours.

December 12, 2010

Sweet Chilli Jam

Are you knee deep in the holiday spirit yet? Are you ready to eat yourself into a festive coma? Are you already anticipating the arrival of unwanted guests? Are you sick and tired of standing in line for hours on end? Do you have your menu planned, your cards sent, your presents bought? Oh the pressure!

Whether you're suffering from festive fever or reveling in it, I'm pretty sure todays recipe will knock your stockings off!

Seriously, if you're looking to impress your friends, colleagues or loved ones with a special gift this year then look no further! This tasty homemade chilli jam is guaranteed to make folks happy.

Deliciously sweet yet wonderfully spicy, this jam is crawling with flavour and versatility. It's great with everything from robust cheeses and cold meats to grilled sausages or roast chicken. It's also pretty fantastic spread on hot buttered toast!

And did I mention that it's incredibly easy to make! A few hours of chopping, mixing and simmering and voila! People think you are a jam making queen! Or king?!

 Do use caution when chopping though as these little red chillies are.....


Sweet Chilli Jam
Makes approximately 2 large jars or 4 small.
Adapted from BBC Good Food.

Note: If making as a gift, be sure to label the jars with the date and storage instructions. 

9 fresh red chillies, roughly chopped
7 red bell peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves
400g can cherry tomatoes (use regular chopped tomatoes if you can't find cherry)
700g castor sugar
200ml red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt

Place the red pepper, chillies (with seeds) and garlic cloves into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Scrape the mixture into a heavy bottomed pan with the cherry tomatoes, castor sugar, vinegar and salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring frequently.

When the jam becomes very thick and sticky, remove from the heat and cool slightly.  The mixture will thicken more as it cools. If the jam is taking longer to thicken, try increasing the heat for the last 20 minutes or so while keeping a close eye and stirring regularly.
Pour the jam into sterilized jars and store in a cool dark place for 3-6 months. Refrigerate once opened.