Tuesday, 27 December 2011

You Take the High Road, I'll Take the Rocky Road...

The best thing about making your own gifts is not the thrift, nor is it how clever and talented you look when everyone opens their presents.  It's the fact that you can prepare them whilst wearing pyjamas with a cup of tea in one hand - they tend to frown on that in Debenhams.  For the reluctant shopper, or the too-tired-to-drag-myself-round-the-shops shopper, making your own gifts is perfect, especially when these gifts require nothing more sophisticated than a glass bowl and a fridge. 

A couple of weeks ago I found the recipe for Not Quite Nigella's White Chocolate Rocky Road and was instantly taken by how pretty it was.  I decided to make some to give as Christmas gifts and I was not disappointed.  Tied up with cellophane and a piece of ribbon, this struck me as a very feminine present, perfect for Mums and Aunties.  Another bonus, as the Husband so rightly pointed out, "it looks quite expensive", no one will realise that you've only spent a few quid on ingredients (until they read this...)  

I adapted the Not Quite Nigella recipe a little to better suit the ingredients I had to hand (the original recipe uses macadamia nuts, but I think the green pistachios add an extra touch of colour that goes well with the pinks and creams already in there).  I used regular baking chocolate and stirred in the seeds from a vanilla pod to add a touch of luxury, if you use fancy chocolate you can omit that.

White Chocolate Rocky Road (adapted from this recipe by NQN)

450g white chocolate
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
125g rose Turkish Delight, cut into 1/2cm cubes
50g Nougat (the pink and white bar you used to buy in your school tuck shop), cut into 1/2cm cubes
75g shelled pistachio nuts
100g dried cranberries
50g pink and white mini marshmallows

  • Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl sitting over hot water, or (carefully!) in the microwave.  Add the vanilla seeds and stir in well. 
  • Stir in the Turkish Delight, Nougat, pistachios, cranberries and marshmallows until well mixed.
  • Pour into a 20cm square cake tin, lined with clingflim.
  • Leave for about 2 hours to set, then cut into small squares (you'll get about 25 squares)

After I made this I wanted to make something for the men, something a bit more "masculine", so I came up with a kind of grown-up tiffin that would appeal to Dads, Uncles, and Brothers alike!

This plain chocolate tiffin uses up any dried fruit that you might have left after making mince pies or Christmas cake, use whatever you have to hand.  I used Drambuie in mine but any whisky or whisky liqueur will work well, or if whisky's not your thing then rum would be good, too.

Dark Chocolate Tiffin

300g plain chocolate
150g unsalted butter
2tbsp golden syrup
150g mixed dried fruit
100ml Whisky liqueur
200g gluten free ginger snaps or Kent & Fraser Spicy Ginger Crunch biscuits, crushed
50g stem ginger, chopped
  • Simmer the dried fruit in the liqueur until liquid is completely absorbed.
  • Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over hot water, add the butter and syrup and stir constantly until it is all melted and well mixed.
  • Add the whisky soaked fruit, broken biscuits and stem ginger and mix well.
  • Pour into a 20cm square cake tin, lined with clingflim.
  • Leave for about 2 hours to set in refridgerator, then cut into small squares (you'll get about 25 squares)

Both will keep for a couple of weeks, but you'll need to keep the tiffin in the fridge or it will become a bit soft.

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