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Thursday 10 January 2013

Christmas Hampers

I realise this post is coming either a little late or ridiculously early, but it was my first year doing home-made Christmas.  This project took me way longer than I initially anticipated and I'm convinced I put on a stone tasting all the components.  It was worth it though as I think my family really appreciated the effort.
Basically I bought (fairly cheap) plastic boxes and filled them with: homemade cocoa, homemade fudge, chocolate star Christmas trees and homemade truffles.  I then wrapped the whole lot in cellophane (my new fave) tied some ribbon and added a homemade label.
I stole all the ideas and recipes from other websites:

Homemade cocoa mix:

  • 2 cups non-fat milk powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Place all the ingredients in a big bowl and mix together well (the original recipe used a food processor - I didn't).  Divide into sandwich bags (can make 4 bags depending on your generosity).  tie the bags with gift ribbon.

I then put the bags into paper cups (designed for hot drinks) that I had decorated with Christmas ribbon.  To each cup I added a red spoon, a candy cane and then topped with marshmallows.  I then wrapped the whole thing with cellophane, tied it with gift ribbon and added a tag with directions to make (add 3-4 teaspoons to hot water, stir, enjoy).


My favourite part of this was my genius (and modest) idea to pour the mixture into mini silicone cupcake cakes, I chose star shaped.  They worked perfectly.  Everyone says how difficult fudge is to make, it isn't, it's just boring - but sooo worth it, people go crazy for the stuff.

Recipe from: 

  • 200g butter
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 table spoons golden syrup
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  1. Put all ingredients, apart from vanilla essence, in a pot and bring to the boil stirring all the time.
  2. Boil for roughly 20 minutes, still stirring all the time.  (I advise watching a film on the laptop / tv / reading a book to keep you going through this stage)
  3. In a bowl of cold water drop a little of the fudge mixture (test throughout the 20 mins of boiling), when it is at the soft ball stage remove from heat.
  4. Add vanilla essence and beat with an electric beater for approximately 5 minutes until you can see it starting to set.  (actually I just continued hand mixing - bonus it works on the bingo wings)
  5. Pour into greased tin (or lined with baking paper) and place in fridge to cool and set. (or pretty silicone cases - I may try butterflys next)
  6. Cut into pieces once set and keep in the fridge or locked pantry to avoid eating it all at once! (ridiculous idea, eat it, EAT IT!!!!)
Chocolate star Christmas trees:

This one is much easier - but clear some fridge space first.  I made some dud ones until I worked out how to stop them melting - put them in the fridge on a wooden chopping board (a baking tray might work, haven't tried).  This the keeps them cool as you arrange them (artfully).

basically get a range of sizes of star shaped cookie cutters, trace around two of each onto baking paper.
Melt the chocolate of your choice (I did milk but I think layering milk and white could look very cool).
Carefully fill the star shapes with the melted chocolate (I used a spatula) and put in the fridge to set ( for a few hours-ish)
Layer the stars (securing with a little more chocolate) alternating the spikes of the stars so each layer fills a gap..  Then top with a cherry, and of course wrap with cellophane!

I made these and put them in little cupcake / truffle cases.  then piled a load into a pretty take away box.

Recipe from:
  • Spoon of honey
  • 300g of dark chocolate (65-70% single origins are best)
  • 100g of milk chocolate
  • 150g double cream

Chop or grate the chocolate and mix in a bowl. Boil cream and add to chocolate, mix very gently with a whisk until you have velvet texture (2 -3 minutes).

Prepare a shallow tin by coating with cling film. Make sure you have extra on the edges. Then pour your truffle mix in the tin and level by gently tapping the tin. Leave to rest in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and direct heat for 24hrs.

The next day, with a tea spoon make a quenelle by smoothing with another tea spoon and leave to rest on a plate.

Continue until all the truffle mix is used.

Temper your chocolate by melting your dark chocolate and cooling it to the point it is a tad cool on the bottom lip. Then pour in a large bowl.

Have a tin with tall sides and pour in pure cocoa powder or coconut flakes.

You can now roll your truffle in the palm of you hand. Be quick as it will melt! Then drop the truffle in the tempered chocolates with a fork and coat it nicely.

Lift out of the chocolate and gently tap on the edge of the bowl to remove the excess, then place in the cocoa powder and quickly move the tin in circular motion to ensure the truffle is fully coated with powder.
Once you have approx 5 truffles, wait a couple of minutes to set and gently lift them out of the tin and place on a cool plate to set properly.
Store in a cool place (not the fridge) for up to 5 days.

I then added all the items to my boxes, wrapped in cellophane, added my tags and voila: 

For the kids I made marshmallow snowmen by adding 4 to a skewer then gluing (with icing) mini smarties for buttons and eyes and using a jelly sweet for a hat.

Some experiments did not work: soap shapes (grating soap and pressing it into cookie cutters), bottle top, glitter glue fridge magnets - the glue kept sinking!  But on the whole I was very pleased :-) give it a try next Christmas.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Zanna, I love your use of vanilla and honey in your Gourmet Christmas Hampers - inspired and a joy I'm sure!