TRA­DI­TIONAL TREATS

One of the ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated de­lights at this time of year is an ar­ray of favourite con­fec­tions to en­joy through­out the hol­i­day sea­son

Country Living (UK) - - Contents - recipes and food styling by ali­son walker pho­to­graphs by nas­sima rothacker styling by ly­dia brun

One of the ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated de­lights at this time of year is an in­dul­gent ar­ray of favourite con­fec­tions to en­joy through­out the hol­i­day sea­son

CHOCO­LATE-DIPPED ORANGE PEEL

Prepa­ra­tion 30 min­utes, plus stand­ing Cook­ing about 2 hours Makes about 550g This is de­li­cious served with cof­fee as a petit four or chop it up and add to fruit cakes and mince pie mix­tures.

6 or­anges 1kg gran­u­lated sugar 150g plain choco­late, bro­ken into pieces

Slice the or­anges into quar­ters and re­move the flesh. Us­ing a tea­spoon, scrape away any orange flesh lin­ger­ing on the peel. Dis­card. Put 1.6 litres wa­ter and the

peel into a large pan and bring to the boil. Sim­mer for 1 hour un­til the peel is ten­der but not floppy. Us­ing a slot­ted spoon, put the peel into a bowl. Mea­sure 600ml of the liq­uid and pour back into the pan – if not enough, make up with more wa­ter. Add 600g sugar and heat un­til dis­solved. Turn up the heat and boil for 1 minute. Pour over the peel, cover and leave for 24 hours. Strain the sugar syrup into a pan and add the re­main­ing sugar. Dis­solve gen­tly, then bring to the boil and cook for 1 minute. Pour over the peel and leave for an­other day. Put the peel and syrup into a pan and bring up to a boil. Re­duce the heat and sim­mer for about an hour or un­til the peel is slightly translu­cent. Trans­fer both syrup and peel to a clean bowl, cover and leave for four days. Drain the peel and dis­card the syrup. Ar­range the peel on a wire rack set over a tray or dish and leave to stand in a cool, airy place for 1 week un­til the peel doesn’t feel tacky. Slice into fin­ger-width strips. Melt the choco­late in a heat­proof bowl set over a pan of gen­tly sim­mer­ing wa­ter. Dip the peel strips, fully into the choco­late or just at one end, and leave to set on a wire rack. Pack the peel be­tween sheets of waxed pa­per in an air­tight con­tainer.

CAL­VA­DOS AND VANILLA-PRE­SERVED PEARS

Prepa­ra­tion 25 min­utes, plus in­fus­ing Cook­ing 30 min­utes Makes about 2kg

375g gran­u­lated sugar juice 1 lemon 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds re­moved 1 kg un­der-ripe firm pears (un­pre­pared weight) 200ml cal­va­dos brandy

1 Put the sugar and 900ml wa­ter into a large pan. Heat gen­tly to dis­solve the sugar, then turn up the heat and boil for 2 min­utes. Re­move from the heat and add the lemon juice, vanilla pod and seeds.

2 Destalk and peel the pears. Halve (or quar­ter if large) and re­move the core. Add to the sugar syrup as you go to stop the fruit turn­ing brown. 3 Bring to a gen­tle sim­mer, cover and poach the pears un­til ten­der – this could take any­thing from 10-30 min­utes depend­ing on their ini­tial ripeness. 4 Re­move the pears with a slot­ted spoon and pack tightly into hot ster­ilised seal­able jars. Add the cal­va­dos, then top up with the sugar syrup (keep any left­over syrup in the fridge and use in cock­tails). Seal and leave to in­fuse for a month be­fore eat­ing. Chill af­ter open­ing and eat within two weeks.

CHERRY PUD­DING WITH KIRSCH BUT­TER

Prepa­ra­tion 25 min­utes, plus mac­er­at­ing Cook­ing 6 hours Serves 8 Laden with cher­ries, this Christ­mas pud­ding is lighter than usual ver­sions. If you’d pre­fer a richer one, steam it for eight hours.

135g each sul­tanas, raisins and cur­rants 45g dried ap­ple, diced 45g dried pear, diced zest and juice 1 lemon 100ml kirsch or cherry brandy 15g soft but­ter, plus ex­tra for greas­ing 1 tbsp golden syrup 200g glacé cher­ries 75g veg­e­tar­ian suet 100g light brown soft sugar 1½ tsp mixed spice 100g fresh bread­crumbs 2 medium eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt

FOR THE KIRSCH BUT­TER

125g soft un­salted but­ter 125g golden caster sugar 6 tbsp kirsch or cherry brandy

1 Put the dried fruit, lemon zest and juice and cherry liqueur into a non-metal­lic bowl. Cover and leave to mac­er­ate overnight. 2 Lay a large square of foil on the work­sur­face and a piece of bak­ing parch­ment on top. Make a con­certina fold in the cen­tre. Set aside. 3 Grease a 1.2 litre pud­ding basin with but­ter and line the base with a cir­cle of bak­ing parch­ment. Dot the base with but­ter and driz­zle over the golden syrup. Put 125g of cher­ries in the base. 4 Roughly chop the re­main­ing cher­ries. Put the rest of the in­gre­di­ents into a large bowl. Stir in the dried fruits, plus any liq­uid. Stir well un­til com­bined, then tip into the pre­pared basin on top of the cher­ries, pack­ing down firmly. Level the top. 5 Cover the basin with the bak­ing parch­ment and foil (foil up­per­most). Tie in place with a length of string, just un­der the rim, mak­ing a han­dle by bring­ing the lengths over the top of the bowl and ty­ing them to the string on the other side. Trim away ex­cess foil and pa­per. 6 To cook the pud­ding, put an up­turned heat­proof saucer in the base of a deep pan. Set the basin on top. Pour in enough boil­ing wa­ter to reach half­way up the sides of the basin. Cover with a tight-fit­ting lid and sim­mer for six hours, top­ping up with more boil­ing wa­ter from the ket­tle if nec­es­sary. 7 To store: re­move the pud­ding, cool, then put (with the foil and parch­ment still in­tact) in a cool, dark place for at least a month. 8 To re­heat: steam as be­fore with the cov­er­ings in place for 2 hours un­til hot. 9 For the kirsch but­ter, beat to­gether the but­ter and sugar with a pinch of salt un­til light and fluffy. Beat in the kirsch grad­u­ally. Chill un­til re­quired.

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