The greatest love of all…

Raw carrot cake bites

I never thought I'd say this but I believe Whitney Houston was right. "Children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way..."

This rings true in so many ways but least not in how we teach our children to cook and look after themselves with food.

A few months ago I was privileged to be asked to run some food workshops at Bristol's first Children's Literary Festival, which actually took place yesterday. Children's authors and illustrators held talks and signed books, whilst I shared my passion for food!

In 4 half hour slots I saw over 50 children and we made pasta and raw carrot cake bites, which is a recipe I created especially for the festival. I regularly hear that parents are looking to think outside the box with children's snacks and these are simple, fun and delicious. Perfect for the summer!

I believe teaching our children how to cook and create food from simple ingredients is a life skill that will help them nurture themselves and their families in the future. An opportunity to introduce them to a love for food is a gift that may not be appreciated right now but may spark an interest to last them a lifetime!

Equally, I know that getting children to help with the cooking isn't always the easiest of tasks when there a deadline to feed the family! So over the summer in our Fuss Free Foodie community on FB, I will be sharing some of the simple recipes I cook with children in my school workshops. So come join our group here and we can share our ideas!

Let me know what you think!

Raw carrot cake bites

  • 35g porridge oats
  • 35g Medjool dates (2)
  • 35g raisins
  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 50g grated carrot
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 5 rasps of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • Extra few tablespoons of coconut for rolling the balls in
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a blender until it wants to start to form a ball.
  2. Take a teaspoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. Optional, roll it in coconut and set aside.
  3. Once all rolled chill in the fridge.
  4. Feel free to double up the quantities and freeze some and fully defrost before eating.
  5. To make into a small dessert, make a slightly bigger version and top with a cream cheese frosting. 100g cream cheese mixed with 1 tbsp of maple syrup (or more to taste!)

 

 

 

A beast of an Easter biscuit

Chocolate Easter Biscuits

Fasting time is over

It's now time to crack on

and have an Eggs-cellent Easter

And eat chocolate all day long!

Easter is a favourite of mine because of the 4 day break!  Unless it's planned to rain for those 4 days, of course. So I thought I would share this great Easter biscuit recipe that I made with a group of year 4/5 children which went down a treat! So if you're in need of an extra indoor activity this Bank Holiday remember to share this one with your foodie friends...

I'm keeping it brief this week, as although I'm not one for giving things up.... a slight Easter digital detox is what I need!!

Happy Easter and thank you for being here on this Fuss Free journey! To keep up with what I get up to keep an eye on Instagram or the FFF FB page!

Lisa.

Chocolate Easter Biscuits

• 75g dark chocolate, broken

• 100g butter

• 110g plain flour

• 125g light brown sugar

• 1 tsp bicarb of soda

• 1 large egg

• 50g milk chocolate, broken

• 100g yellow marzipan

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/355 fahr/gas 4

2. Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl, and place over a simmering pan of water to melt. When melted put to one side

3. In another bowl measure out the flour and bicarb. Then add the egg and sugar to the slightly cooled chocolate and butter mixture

4. Bring the wet and dry mixtures together, and mix until just the flour has just disappeared. Let the mix sit for a few minutes to firm up

5. Prepare a baking tray with parchment and place a tablespoon of mixture on the tray making sure they are well spaced apart. Better to cook them in two batches and spread them out!

6. Bake for 9-10 minutes and when ready leave to cool for a few minutes on the tray to firm up, and then cool them on a cooling rack

7. Prepare your marzipan eggs by making them between blueberry and hazelnut size

8. Melt the milk chocolate in a pan or in the microwave on a medium heat so as not to burn it. Place a small blob of melted chocolate in the middle of the biscuit and set the eggs on that.

9. Then drizzle milk chocolate over the biscuit.

Original recipe idea from GoodtoKnow

Do less to achieve more!

Cacao energy balls:

Being a parent for me often feels like I’m a circus performer. Spinning plates for the family whilst juggling what's important to me.  It’s easy to get drawn into things and be in the feeling of being busy and the need to keep pushing on. 

I've found myself in this place recently. And whereas I realise that having a list of goals to achieve over the day or week is a great way to focus the mind; Feeling too tied to the list can be counterproductive and unexpected events can tip the balance. 

Feeling maxed out, pot overflowing doesn't feel like a healthy place to be. Tiredness, twitching eyes and being irritable all point to one obvious thing. It's time to step back. We all know it. Yet it doesn't come naturally. Not to me anyway.

Maintaining a presence on social media, being creative, running the house along with family life is the ultimate act, but I think it's time to make a few changes to the performance. But I guess years of 'being' a certain way will not change overnight, and it starts with a realisation of a need for change.  I have made those realisations before but have ignored it. But this week I noticed a real difference.

I'd say I live a pretty low key life. I rarely drink anymore, feel like I have retired my social life for the winter and eat home cooked food, every meal, most days. But in my Fuss Free Foodie efforts and the rise in work I've noticed one thing has slipped off the radar.

Regular physical activity.

Up until recently, I could really push myself physically. Ran (I've done 3 half marathons), did assault courses and high impact gym classes; And enjoyed it. But my body was increasingly feeling not so happy with the push and more extreme exercise. So as the work came in I rationalised my exercise and started only fitting in 1 yoga class a week.

I hadn't associated that even by doing more yoga, I could achieve that same sense of mental freedom that I used to get from the high energy workouts. Having done 2-3 yoga classes this week I noticed a huge difference in my mental state. By stepping away and not pushing on, I felt like I was observing again and not getting caught up so much in feelings and emotions. 

I've known this of myself in the past, but I guess I hadn't figured that any regular exercise can help you lean into that feeling of inner calm. I guess anything in excess whether it's work, food or exercise can do more harm than good, and the idea of balance is a good thing to strive for across all areas of life!

So in the interest of being balanced, as we about to embark on the chocolate season, I thought I would share this recipe as an antidote to all of the Easter eggs.  These cacao energy balls are super tasty and hit that sweet spot. 

They are perfect for making with the children, as they can help with the rolling. You won’t mind them eating them at snack time! I like to add a nutrient powder from a health food shop to boost my energy balls, but they are equally as delicious without! 

If you would like to follow how I shop, cook and eat delicious food without the fuss, remember to follow The Fuss Free Foodie on Instagram for my foodie pictures,  the FFF Facebook page to follow what I'm up to and projects I'm working on. For a more interactive experience with the FFF, join the FFF community on FB, where we share shopping tips and recipes and to see my random thoughts on Twitter I'm sometimes on there too!!

Come say HI!!

Cacao Energy Balls

  • 1/3 cup of almonds
  • 1 and a half cups pitted dates or mixed dried fruits
  • 1 tbsp. almond butter
  • 2 tbsp. cacao powder
  • Optional. 1 tbsp. nutrient dense powder like One Earth
  • Optional coating: Sesame, chia seeds or extra cacao for coating
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blitz for 1-2 mins
  2. Roll a teaspoon (or more if you want them bigger!) into a ball and then roll in a coating if you choose to
  3. Keep in the fridge

Drop a comment on your preferred platform and let us know if you try them and what you think! Lisax

Confessions of a young Valentine

Fuss free chocolate fondant

I fear I may have put them off Valentine's day for life by being a world class B. It wasn't my intention. This happened a long time ago.

The first scenario was at Primary school. I hadn't realised that this boy had admired me from afar. So part of my response, I think, was shock. However.  He was the most talented artist even at age 10, and he had drawn this beautiful card on a folded piece of white A4 paper. He had drawn the world in pencil with such accuracy, carefully coloured with appropriate blue water and green land and there stood a person. At the top written in angled bubbled writing was 'I think the world of you'.

GULP.

I'm not sure what it said inside the card. But clearly, a lot of time, effort and thought had gone into this personalised card. So what, you may ask was my response to such an overture of love?

This is really hard to write. And I can't believe this was my response. I was 10 and was probably rather embarrassed.

I ripped it up. Yes. I know. How awful. Not straight away. I clearly have this card etched into my brain so I looked at it for a while. But not long after receiving this card. I ripped it up.

If this happened to one of my boys I would be devastated for them after bearing their heart. So Matt K. I am sorry. I loved what you drew. Thank you. Please forgive me.

And there is more.

Whether it is as bad I'm not sure. But I guess if peoples feeling are hurt,  then there is no sliding scale here.

Valentines occasion number two was in middle school. This particular boy had been asking me out and I had not given him the time of day. As Valentine's day drew near, on the quadrangle at school I conceded and said yes.

The next day he arrived at school. Box of chocolates in hands. Roses to be specific. I gladly took the chocolates and shortly after receiving said chocolates, I unceremoniously relinquished him from boyfriend duties. Dumped on Valentine's day.

Ouch.

Chocolate roses were eaten (my bezzie and I were big chocolate fans) and not a second thought for the other side of the story.  If this happened to one of my boys I would be devastated for them for being brave enough to bear their heart. So Adam S. I am sorry. I loved the Roses. Thank you. Please forgive me.

As I sit here and heal the ghosts of Valentine's past, I feel that 30 years is long enough to have held these stories with me. It is time to forgive that young girl who wasn't so aware of peoples feelings and the impact that this could have. I think part of my reason for wanting to have boys was that girls can be so harsh!  And I was that girl on this occasion.

But what I take from it is that I have two boys who's hearts are open and I can readdress the balance by filling them with a little love each day. This goes beyond a prescribed day to show your love.

This year even my husband doesn't need to buy me flowers as I bought some myself when I recorded this recipe video. So maybe that's the biggest learning of all from this week. Not just showing our love to others but to show it to ourselves as well and not wait for someone to do that for us.

However ever you choose to spend this Wednesday. Enjoy. Why not post up what you cook in our FFF Facebook community?

Chocolate fondant

This recipe will make at least 3 pots. If you are doing a double date and need at least 4, follow the quantities in brackets.

    • 125g butter, chopped (167g)
    • 125g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces (167g)
    • 125g caster sugar (167g)
    • 35g plain flour (47g)
    • 3 eggs (4 eggs)
    • Tbsp of cocoa powder
    • 2 dariole moulds 6fl oz (4 moulds)
    • Butter wrapper or parchment for buttering the moulds

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C

  1. Place the butter and chocolate in a bowl and place over a bowl of simmering water and leave to slowly melt
  2. In another bowl break the eggs, add the caster sugar and flour and whisk together to make a smooth mixture
  3. Rub the inside of the moulds with a little of the melted butter and then put the cocoa inside the mould and spin it round so that the mould becomes coated
  4. Once the chocolate and butter mixture is melted add it to the other mixture and whisk until incorporated together
  5. Measure 137g of the mixture into each mould and place in the oven for 13 minutes (If you want to cook them later just set aside until you are ready to cook)
  6. You know the pot is ready when you take it out of the oven and the pot is cooked around the outside and has a sunken uncooked bit in the middle
  7. Turn the chocolate pot out on to a plate, and either drizzle over single cream or a dollop of whipped cream

When a Vegan came to tea……

Sticky Vegan Orange Marmalade cake

I'm only socialising with my vegan friends. It's seemed that way this week as 2 friends in 2 days visiting were Vegan.  Thankfully my new years' resolution to educate and add more vegan recipes to my repertoire was well founded.

But had you told me though that 2/3 blog posts this year were going to be vegan and I'd be discussing my thoughts on Veganism on BBC Radio Bristol yesterday, I would have thought otherwise!

My standpoint on the radio was that if I was single and only had my self to think about I do actually think I could tolerate being Vegan! Maybe even enjoy it!! There is so much more available to be Vegan these days. Let's face it, experimenting with new foods sounds like great fun!

But add 2 children into the mix who've so far been brought up eating meat, and a husband with 4 decades under his belt....I'm not sure I'm up for that task.

But the presenter argued if we took the -ish off selfish.....why wouldn't your family want to support you in your endeavours? I guess if it was a question of health, then I guess it would force my hand and I would have to make that change.

However, as I'm not a big milk drinker or egg eater I am quite happy to eat veggie, vegan and all other foods.  We don't buy mass-produced meat and quite often have meat-free days.....so, for now, I feel in balance with the way we eat. I wouldn't want to feel that there were things that I couldn't eat. To be honest ......I just want to have my vegan cake and eat it too!

I challenge you to make this cake and not love it! EVERYONE who tried this cake this week has been amazed its vegan.....I'm off to make another one...

Let me know how you get on at The Fuss Free Foodie FB group and if you want to see what I get up to when I'm not in the kitchen don't forget to follow me on my FB page. Lisa. 

Sticky Vegan marmalade cake
        • 380g plain flour
          85g dark brown sugar
          285g caster sugar
          12g bicarb
          5g salt
          Zest of 1 orange
          480ml orange juice
          335g vegetable oil
          25g cider vinegar
          5g vanilla extract
          3/4 cup of marmalade
          I used Seville orange marmalade from last week! The bitterness works really well

          1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Prepare x2 24cm springform cake tins. Oil lightly and place a parchment disk in the bottom.

          2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Whisk until thoroughly combined, crumbling the brown sugar with the tips of your fingers if necessary.

          3. In a separate bowl whisk together the orange juice, vegetable oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Quickly mix the wet ingredients into the dry mix and whisk thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. If there is a small area that is uncooked in the middle, but the cake is browning, place tin foil over the top and bake for 5 more minutes until it is firm in the middle.

          4. Let the cakes cool for about 20 minutes in the cake pans, then run a knife around the inside of the pan to release each layer. Turn the cake layers out onto cooling racks. Glaze while the cakes are still warm, but not hot.

          5.To make the glaze, put the marmalade in a small saucepan. Warm over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the glaze is bubbling and hot. If it gets too thick add a tablespoon of water. Turn off the heat and immediately glaze the cake.

          6.Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Pierce the top with a toothpick a few times.
          Pour about half the liquid into the saucepan over the first cake layer. Place the second layer on top of the first, and repeat. Spoon the solid bits of marmalade peel on top of the cake.

          If you want to check out the original recipe in 'cups' click here...
          https://www.thekitchn.com/vegan-recipe-damp-orange-cake-136406

           

Sunshine in a jar from Seville

Seville Orange Marmalade

We all express our love in different ways, and it will be no surprise mine is through food! Getting no mother of the year awards during the week (getting 2 boys ready for school each day) I often feel in the quiet backwaters of the weekend, it's a great time to express my love.  In a relaxed, non-shouty, hanging out in our dressing gowns type of way eating this is a great way to start any weekend!

So enter stage left...Seville oranges. Noticing them locally on sale this week I thought it was a great time to make a few pots as they are just in season. Plus they are only around for a few weeks. If you fancy making your own marmalade but you're not quite ready to make it yet, it's worth buying some oranges and popping them in the freezer.  Then when you are ready to make your batch just defrost them and follow the recipe.

On these wet and wild days, why not haul up and give it a try....get the ingredients in and have a go! It will make a wonderful breakfast on the weekend!

Let me know how you get on at The Fuss Free Foodie FB group and if you want to see what I get up to when I'm not in the kitchen don't forget to follow me on my FB page. Lisa x

Seville Orange Marmalade
Cooking time 2 hours. Makes 1.5kg of marmalade

450g Seville oranges
1.2litres water
900g sugar
3 tbsps lemon juice 

  1. Put the whole fruit in a medium sized pan with the water. Simmer slowly, turning once, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the fruit is pierced with a skewer with ease.
  2. Remove the fruit from the pan and cool until it can be handled to cut in half. Using a fork or spoon, scoop out all the pips, inside and membrane, leaving an orange shell.
  3. Place the pips/pith back into the cooking liquid and boil steadily for 10 minutes. Then strain the liquid and return back to the pan to remove the pips/pith.
  4. Cut up the fruit into small chunks or slices (I did 1/8 ths) and add to the liquid. Bring the liquid up to the boil and add the sugar and lemon juice.
  5. Stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved and then boil rapidly until setting point is reached. It will be frothing up and for me, took 25-30 mins.
  6. It's important to NOT stir as it does this. I did, so that probably slowed the process down. You want it to reach the setting point as soon as possible to retain all the flavour. (*1).
  7. Allow to cool in the pan until slightly stiffened, then stir to evenly distribute the peel. Spoon into hot jars, put on a disk of parchment paper (you can buy special disks, but I just cut out of parchment) and seal the jars. (*2)

Fuss Free Skills!

(*1) To tell whether the marmalade is at settling point, spoon a little of the marmalade onto a cold saucer. Allow the marmalade to cool on the plate. If the preserve is set it should wrinkle when pushed with your finger. If it wrinkles only slightly, and boil and re-test in 1-2 minutes until it wrinkles.

(*2) To prepare your jars, either wash the jars and lids, and place them on a baking tray in the oven for about 10 minutes at 100℃ or simmer them in a pan of boiling water for ten minutes, or wash them in the dishwasher before use.

Made TV-Honeycomb

Honeycomb

This is fuss free AND delicious for an edible Christmas gift or centrepiece for a party.  The key here is to take your time with melting the mixture, and not be in a hurry as it will more likely sieze or burn.  Don't make the same mistake as Jamie and I, add the bicarb straight after it comes off the heat....don't get distracted by another job!!

Don't forget to check out our Christmas Rocky Road, Sticky gingerbread and Fuss Free Mince Pies or the festive recipes I made on The Hairy Bikers recently including panforte and amaretti biscuits... Merry Christmas! Lisa x

Honeycomb

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 8 tbsp. golden syrup
  • 3 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  1. Put the sugar and syrup into a saucepan. You mustn't stir once the pan's on the heat
  2. Place the pan on a medium heat and let the mixture first melt. Only give the pan a gentle shake, no stirring!
  3. Let the mixture melt slowly over 10-20 minutes (that way it won't burn!). Once it turns to goo it will start to bubble and then you need to wait till it goes the colour of maple syrup
  4. Immediately take the pan off the heat, whisk in the bicarbonate of soda and watch the syrup turn into a bubbling cloud pale gold in colour.
  5. Tip this out immediately onto a piece of reusable baking parchment or greased foil.
  6. Leave until set and then break it into small pieces or long shards

Made TV-Sticky Gingerbread

Sticky gingerbread

This is another of my go-to Christmas recipes, that I have made to hand out to the children's nursery teachers or taken to a childrens party!  It's another classic from the Nigella Christmas book, which is my seasonal bible!

Have a go and let me know of the FFF Facebook page what you think.  Remember to check out the other recipes that Jamie and I made: Christmas Rocky Road, Mince Pies,  Honeycomb and the edible gifts I made on the Hairy Bikers recently ...including cream free truffles and stained glass window biscuits!

Sticky Gingerbread

  • 150g butter
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 200g black treacle
  • 125g dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 2 x 15ml tablespoons warm water
  • 250ml full-fat milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten to mix
  • 300g plain flour

1 Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3 and line a roasting tin or ovenproof dish (approx. 30cm x 20cm x 5cm) lined with baking parchment (I grease it as well!)

2 In a saucepan, melt the butter over a low-medium heat with the sugar, syrup, treacle, fresh and ground gingers, cinnamon and cloves

3 Take off the heat, add the milk, eggs and dissolved bicarbonate of soda in water

4 Sieve the flour into a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed. The batter will be a very liquid, but that's OK, it will be what makes it sticky later. Give a quick whisk if there are some lumps of flour

5 Pour it into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes until risen and firm on top. Try not to overcook, as it is nicer a little stickier, and anyway will carry on cooking as it cools

6 Transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the gingerbread cool in the tin before cutting into 20 squares, or however you wish to slice it!

Made TV-Christmas Rocky Road

Christmas Rocky Road:

Rocky road is great at any time of year, but especially at Christmas!  This is a classic recipe from Nigella that I make year after year, and I often mix it up by changing the type of fruit, nuts or biscuits I use.

Jamie from Made TV was surprised at how easy it was to make, so I hope you will give it a go. I am sure if you turned up to a party with a plate of these you would be very popular!  But be warned...they are super moorish...

Remember to check out the fuss-free mince pies we made too and the edible Christmas gifts that I made recently on the Hairy Bikers Home for Christmas show...Truffles and Panforte & Amaretti and stained glass window biscuits

Christmas Rocky Road

  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 175g soft butter
  • 4 tbsp. golden syrup
  • 200g ginger biscuits
  • 150g hazelnuts
  • 150g red glace cherries, chopped
  • 125g  mini marshmallows
  • edible stars or glitter
  • Approx 25cm x 20cm tray or disposable foil tray, parchment
  1. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and then put it into a heavy-based pan with the butter and syrup, then melt over a gentle heat
  2. Put the biscuits into a bag and bash them with a rolling pin to get big and little-sized crumbs
  3. Put the hazelnuts into another bag and bash them as well
  4. Take the pan off the heat, and add the crushed biscuits and nuts, chopped glacé cherries and mini-marshmallows. Stir well to coat everything with syrupy chocolate
  5. Tip into a foil tray or dish lined with parchment (I used one approx 25cm x 20cm, smoothing the top as best you can with a spoon.  Sprinkle over the edible stars or glitter if using
  6. Once cooled, leave in the fridge until firm enough to cut, which will take about 1½–2 hours. Then take the set block of rocky road out of the foil tray onto a chopping board and get ready to cut with a sharp knife
  7. Cut it into bite-sized squares (or larger!) It is quite rich, so it can go a long way if you chop it small!

Cracking Christmas Cooking

Christmas chocolate truffles and Panforte

The last few weeks have been the craziest in the 1-year lifespan of The Fuss Free Foodie! A last minute shoot working on short foodie video for a British food maker, local TV network Made coming to do Christmas cooking in my house, and not to mention all the chat about my Hairy Biker appearances! (Click here to see Ep. 8 29 mins Ep. 9 29 mins on the iPlayer)

It made me wonder; at this time of year in the nature of living my brand...how does the Fuss free Foodie keep life fuss-free?! Well first of all in true FFF nature, let's keep things real. I don't always manage it! But I am aware of how it needs to be and I am getting better at living life this way.

It's so easy, at this time of year to feel the weight of the 'to-do' list on your shoulders. Balancing the daily routine whilst working towards making the magic of Christmas come alive and putting things in place for the big day.

This year's journey has been very much of a journey of self, as well as bringing the FFF to life. If there is one thing I have learnt to do more this year is trust that things will work out as they are supposed to.  So I'm trusting that Christmas will happen!  No amount of me playing over my to-do list in my head will make it happen any faster...or easier.  The doubts and negativity (monkey chatter!!) do not help!!

But what I do listen to more is my internal sat nav....or intuition! Those things that pop into your consciousness, normally at random times...in the shower for me. Maybe, someone, I've not contacted in a while, or an event I need to book or an idea of how to do something better. These are the things I'm listening to. So as I'm internally directed as to what 'feels' right for me, I get less caught up in the things I feel I 'should' be doing.  At this time of year, fuss-free is for me!

As the last week draws in, I am conscious I need to dedicate some time to my family and enjoy our Christmas. So I will be posting up my pieces from Made TV and see below some of my classic Christmas recipes from last year. Remember to follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to not miss a thing!

I hope you will continue to join me on the journey in 2018. Thank you all for your kind comments, loves, likes and shares this year!

Merry Christmas all!  Lisa x

Christmas Spiced Truffles (Hairy Bikers Home for Christmas Ep.   mins)

Syrup

  • 50g dark brown sugar
    • 250ml water
    • 1 mulled spice bag
  1. Put everything in a pan. Stir, bring to the boil, and simmer for a minute
  2. Pop into a jar and leave overnight or at least for a few hours.

Truffles

    • 100ml of syrup
    • 25g brown sugar
    • Pinch of salt
    • 150g dark chocolate, finely chopped
    • Cocoa powder, chocolate strands or edible bronze rocks (Waitrose)
  1. Finely chop chocolate on a chopping board
  2. Place chocolate in a bowl and set aside
  3. Place the syrup, sugar and salt into a pan. Bring to the boil for 30 seconds
  4. Pour the syrup over the chocolate
  5. Leave for a couple of minutes, to let the warmth start to melt the chocolate. Stir the mixture, starting from the inside and working your way outwards
  6. Cool and then place in the fridge until it is firm but not too hard
  7. I always feel less is more with the stirring to avoid splitting potential. If there are a few little bits of choc it actually gives the truffle a nice bit of crunch!
  8. If you chill the mixture overnight pull it out of the fridge half an hour before rolling
  9. Dip your hands in cocoa to stop the mixture sticking to your hands. Take spoonfuls of the mixture and roll into lots of little balls
  10. Then re-roll the balls in the palms of your hands to make them sticky, then dip them in your chosen coating
  11. Pop into a cellophane bag or box....or just enjoy!

Panforte (Original recipe from Nigella Christmas )

Chewy Tuscan fruit and nut dessert. Great with a cup of tea, coffee or a great addition to a cheese board esp a sharp white cheese!

Ingredients

  • 20cm springform tin
  • Parchment
  • Extra butter for lining the tin
  • 125g almonds in skins
  • 100g blanched almonds
  • 120g whole hazelnuts
  • 75 soft figs, cut off the stalk, snipped into little slithers
  • 200g orange and lemon peel
  • Shake of white pepper
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g plain flour
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g honey
  • 30g butter

Prepare the tin

  • Rub the base of the tin with butter, then add a disk of parchment the size tin to the base and around the sides
  • Rub butter over the parchment to ensure it is easy to remove at the end

Prepare the wet ingredients

  • In a pan gently melt the butter, sugar and honey until the sugar is no longer grainy and all nicely melted. Mix

Prepare the dry ingredients

  • Meanwhile, place the whole nuts and chopped fruits in a heatproof bowl. Stir
  • Add the spices, flour and cocoa into the nuts and fruit. Stir
  • For a fully traditional Italian version you can add separate spices, but for a more fuss free recipe you can use mixed spice. (1/2 ground cloves, 1 tsp cinnamon, grating of nutmeg)

Make the batter

  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir thoroughly so that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed together with no bits of flour left un-stirred

Pour into the tin and cooking

  • Pour the mixture into your springform tin. Pat down with the back of the spoon
  • Wet your hands and push the mixture into the tin to compress it all together and achieve a flat surface. Use your fist in the middle and knuckles to get around the edges.  You could wear disposable gloves if you prefer!!
  • Cook in an oven at 170 deg/gas mark 3 for 45-1hr. It is ready to come out when the top of the cake is bubbling all over the top, not just around the edges. Leave the cake in the tin to completely cool before removing from the tin. At this point the cake should feel firm to the touch

Cutting and presenting

  • Remove the collar and paper and place onto a chopping board and chop into quarters and then into eighths. Chop each eighth into 3.
  • A tip for cutting is to go in with the tip/point of the knife into the middle and carve without using the back of the knife, as this can result in it breaking.
  • Place 6-8 in a bag and tie with ribbon
  • If your panforte feels too bendy and not hard. Reline the tin and stick it back into the oven for another 20-25 minutes until its really bubbling. It needs to reheat totally and then it will start the bubbling process again.

See the blog with the recipes from the first 2 episodes of The Hairy Bikers Home for Christmas

How to put together your Christmas cheese board

Christmas Chicken liver parfait