Friday, 19 September 2014

Homemade treats gift box


This was what I made my Mum for Mother's Day this year (yeah, yeah, it was ages ago!). March and April are always busy times in our family in terms of sweet treats - we've got Easter to contend with, but also Mother's Day, my Mum's birthday and my birthday in quick succession, so it can feel like a bit of a chocolate and cake eating marathon at times (and what's wrong with that you may well ask!).

So this year I thought I'd skip the cake for Mother's Day - sweet treats were still the order of the day (of course!) but I wanted to make some things that could be picked at and might keep a bit longer. Plus I had this set of three boxes that I thought would be perfect to put them in, which were part of a gift set I'd had myself a few years back.

The boxes dictated the size of the things I had to make, so I spent a few weeks mulling over some of my Mum's favourite flavours and things and decided upon:

Jammy Dodgers


I think these are my Mum's ultimate favourite biscuit, she has told me in the past that when in work meetings nobody touches the jammy dodgers as they know they are her favourite! I based the biscuits on this recipe for Cherry Shortbread Hearts (which I'd made a while back for Valentine's Day for Mike), omitting the chopped cherries and using a round cutter for the biscuits. I cut out the middle of half of the batch before baking with a small heart cutter. I then sandwiched the cooled biscuits together with strawberry jam. I was a bit gutted to see this recipe for Jammy Dodgers on the Caked Crusader's blog just a few weeks later - I would definitely try that recipe instead next time!


Fudge


Following the exact same recipe as the Malteser Fudge test batch, instead I topped the fudge with some dark chocolate chunks to try and counter the excess sweetness - plus my Mum loves her dark chocolate. Again the fudge turned out great, I was a little worried that the first batch had been a fluke, but it's definitely a winning recipe, and although I love my Maltesers I think a dark chocolate topping is the way forward with these, if you want to keep some of your teeth...


Peppermint Creams


I'm not entirely sure whether these are a big favourite of Mum's, I know After Eights were often consumed in our household growing up but to be honest the main reason I made these was because they were tiny and would fit in the tiny top box, and would keep a bit! This was a recipe I made way back when during Christmas 2010 and I'm not sure why I hadn't re-made it yet. Such a simple and easy recipe, that will be featuring again this Christmas I think.

The treats were wrapped in individual bags and tied with matching ribbon and I got some tissue to line the boxes with. They were then stacked up and all tied together with ribbon. I was really pleased with the overall effect and I think (hope!) they made a lovely homemade gift to make a nice change from cake.

As all three of these are petite treats, I'm sending them to this month's Treat Petite challenge, hosted by Kat of The Baking Explorer and Stuart of Cakey Boi, with Stuart being this month's host and the theme being 'Anything Goes.' 


Monday, 1 September 2014

Kulfi




Kulfi is a traditional Indian dessert that is similar to ice cream. I'd never heard of it before, but came across the recipe when I had a gift subscription to The Spicery. This gets you a 'spicebox' every month, where you receive a variety of packets of spices along with the suggested recipes to use them with. I thought this was a great idea as nothing puts me off trying new recipes like having to shell out on expensive jars of spice only to use a pinch, or even worse, not being able to get my hands on them at all. Plus it's a great way of trying out lots of new weird and wonderful spices you've never heard of! (Not a sales pitch by the way, the subscription was bought for me as a gift. I would have continued it, but just can't justify it with house buying and wedding saving!)


I thought the Kulfi looked great on the recipe card - so pretty and pink, and seemed quite simple to make to boot. Here's the recipe - unfortunately not the most helpful, as the spices were provided ready measured in the kit, I don't know the quantities! However, it might be useful for anyone who knows their spices, or who just wants to see how it's made!


You'll need:
800g roughly chopped strawberries, plus a few handfuls for serving
juice of 1 lime
397g tin condensed milk
sugar
Long pepper, crushed finely in a pestle and mortar
Pink pepper, crushed coarsely in a pestle and mortar
Cardamom

1. Place 800g of strawberries in a blender and blend to a smooth puree


2. Place the condensed milk, 1 tbsp sugar, cardamom and 3/4 of the long pepper into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent it from catching on the bottom of the pan.
3. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the strawberry puree and half the lime juice.


4. Pour into 4 ramekins and freeze for at least 2-3 hours.
5. Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar, the remaining lime juice, a pinch of pink pepper and the remaining long pepper over the remaining strawberries.
6. Remove the ramekins from the freezer around half an hour before serving, and serve with some of the chopped strawberries on the side and a sprinkle of pink pepper.


I've not made this again due to not being bothered to look out for the spices, but writing this up has made me want to! It was such a unique flavour, the sweetness of the strawberries contrasted so well with the warmth of the spice, and even though it looks like a summery dessert I think it would work just as well in winter too.

I've had this post kicking around in my drafts folder for some time now, and as soon as the Alphabakes September letter was announced I was on to it like a shot! Alphabakes is hosted by Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, with Ros being this month's host. As you might have guessed, this month's letter is K.



I'm also sending this over to the Spice Trail, hosted by Bangers and Mash, with the September theme being A Taste of India.

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