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Cookery: Indulging yourself

13 December 2006

by Deanna Baynes

As Christmas sails towards us, I wanted to be a little more creative; so I harvested some local damsons and made damson gin. The alcoholic damsons are ready to be removed, and I am making use of them in chocolate liqueurs. I was fortunate to find a Belgian chocolate-mould with 18 spaces, but you could use an ice-cube tray instead, and blueberries instead of damsons.

Chocolate liqueurs
1 pkt blueberries
3 tablespoons Port
2 tablespoons castor sugar

Three weeks before you make these, put the blueberries in a jar with the sugar and port, and cover. Gently shake the jar each week.

Use two soft rubber ice-cube trays: I found some heart-shaped ones with 11 spaces in each tray.

12 ozs dark Belgian chocolate
2 teaspoons water

Break up the chocolate into a bowl, and place the bowl in a saucepan of boiling water (turn the heat off, or the chocolate will curdle and become thick). Add two tea-spoons of water, and stir.

Put a little of the chocolate into each mould, and using a pastry brush coat it around the bottom and sides. Chill for half an hour.

Divide the blueberries among the 22 chocolate-coated moulds, and add a little liqueur to each. With a teaspoon, fill each space up to the top with chocolate, without allowing any holes to appear. When they are all full, smooth the surface with a plastic spatula to make each chocolate flat.

Refrigerate for a few hours, and then squeeze each chocolate out. You can put them in decorated petit-four cases or pretty boxes.

Walnut fudge
1lb granulated sugar
¼ pt water
1 can (14ozs) full cream condensed milk
2 ozs chopped walnuts
2 ozs butter

Melt the sugar in the water, and add the condensed milk and butter. When the butter has melted, boil up the mixture until it reaches 238°F, by which time it should have thickened. Test to see if it is ready by dripping a teaspoon of it into cold water, where it should form into a ball. Beat it up well with a whisk until creamy, add the chopped walnuts, stir, and pour into a well-greased tin approximately 7 inches square by 1 inch deep. When cool, cut it into 1-inch squares.

Brandy butter
Good for your mince pies and Christmas pudding.
8 ozs unsalted butter
12 ozs icing sugar
6 teaspoons brandy

Cream the butter in a mixer until white, add the icing sugar and the brandy. Knead it with your fingers till smooth. Roll them into lengths of 1½-inch diameter and cover with greaseproof paper. When you are ready to use it, cut into ½-inch circles and place on top of mince pies or Christmas pudding.

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