I don’t know about you but Christmas can get a little crazy. In between the chaos of decorations, dashes to the shops to pick up last minute gifts, preparation of the house for visitors – the last thing I need to add to all of this is a decadent, ten-step recipe.
Ever since we moved into our estate in late 2013 it seemed like the perfect time to start a tradition of Christmas goodies for neighbours. The first year I remember staying up late amidst partially unpacked boxes trying to perfect the green and red icing on the festively shaped sugar cookies. It was a little exhausting. The year after that was consumed by a variety of bite-sized treats – coconut ice, rum balls and truffles – carefully layered into a glass jar. The end result was satisfying but it took a lot of effort.
The next year, I vowed, would be simpler.
1. Salted Caramel Popcorn
Enter salted caramel popcorn. It took under an hour to pop the corn, melt the caramel and bake a double batch in the oven. Perfect! Christmas gifts suddenly seemed a lot more manageable, and the fact that I could give out double the amount felt very rewarding.
2. Chocolate Fudge
Oh man. I have made three variations of this fudge already in the past week. It is super simple, takes literally five minutes in the microwave and one batch makes enough for six gifts!
After searching the internet for a reliable fudge recipe, I settled on this popular one but it seemed a little too boring if followed exactly. So I have tweaked it and made my own version (Rocky Road variation pictured below).
3 200g packets of dark or milk chocolate, broken into pieces
1 (397g) tin of condensed milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
Pinch of salt
1. Christmas Fudge: 1/4 cup cranberries, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2. Rum and Raisin Fudge: 1/4 cup raisins or sultanas soaked in rum, zest of one orange, 1/4 cup chopped nuts
3. Rocky Road Fudge: 1/4 cup cranberries, handful of chopped marshmallows, 1/4 cup chopped nuts, handful of clinkers, dash of brandy
1. Melt butter in microwaveable bowl.
2. Add in remaining ingredients and microwave on low heat/express defrost setting until melted. Stir once or twice throughout (careful not to boil).
3. Mix through additional ingredients as desired.
4. Spoon mixture into tin or dish lined with baking paper.
5. Sprinkle with festive toppings (chocolate sprinkles, cocoa, coconut etc).
6. Cover with cling wrap and place in refrigerator for a few hours until firm.
7. Remove and cut into bite-sized pieces.
3. Berry Trifle
This trifle somehow ends up on the menu for every Christmas gathering because it is simple, delicious and also happens to be Dave’s favourite form of dessert. I love the fact that it is so versatile and endlessly open to modification. There is zero baking involved and it is made the night before so there is one less item on the to-do list on Christmas day. Just be warned that in order to assemble the trifle you will need to make the jelly in advance, so you do have to be somewhat organised.
1. Store-bought mud cake or chocolate cake
2. 500ml thickened cream
3. 3 cups thick custard (bought or made)
4. 2 packets of raspberry jelly
5. 500g fresh or frozen berries
6. 1 tsp vanilla essence
7. 1 tbsp icing sugar
8. Sherry or brandy for sprinkling (optional)
1. Make jelly according to packet instructions, allow to cool.
2. Add berries to the jelly liquid and place in fridge to set.
3. Whip cream with icing sugar and vanilla.
4. Cut up cake into thin slices.
1. Place sliced cake to cover the bottom of a glass dish. Sprinkle with brandy or sherry if using.
2. Spoon over jelly and fruit mix to cover.
3. Pour over light layer of custard.
4. Spoon over light layer of whipped cream.
5. Repeat steps 1-4, ending with a topping of cream to use all ingredients.
6. Place in refrigerator overnight for flavours to mingle.
7. Just before serving, top with fresh strawberries, flaked nuts or grated chocolate.
For a tropical version of this trifle just substitute vanilla cake, lime jelly, pineapple, mangoes, peaches or other desired fruit. Top with flaked almonds to serve.
Do you have a favourite Christmas recipe that works for you? Let me know in the comments below!