Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year Everyone!!

Roses and Cupcakes for All in 2014!! 
 I do hope this is a prosperous, healthy, happy and inspiring year for everyone, full of laughter, cake and creative delights.

Most appreciatively to YOU from the frozen wilds of Maine:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mini Christmas Pudding Dried Fruit Balls

Awww - aren't these charming little Christmas Pudding sweeties! Chock full of dried fruity goodness, subtle, tart, almondy, tooth-achingly sweet in a good way balls of deliciousness!

This is a very simple but very sticky recipe - the original recipe which I gleaned from British Country Living's December issue said to work the dried fruit through the finest blade of a mincer - which you can do if you happen to have a mincer but as I didn't I first tried a coffee grinder and when that got quickly clogged I resorted to some serious chopping with a cleaver type knife in small batches by hand and it worked really well albeit somewhat time consuming - so let us begin!

You can use any combination of dried fruits that strike your fancy - you can see from the dark colours of mine that I chose organic, non-sulphured but whatever tastes good to you should work well - just follow your tastebuds!

This recipe makes 9 hearty Christmas Balls! Recipe multiplies no problem!

2oz/50g of toasted almonds

2oz/50g dried apricots

2oz/50g mixed raisins, white raisins/sultanas and currants

2oz/50g soft pitted prunes

2oz/50g crystallized ginger

1oz/25g dried cranberries - I chose really bright in flavour ones sweetened with apple juice so the end result had a nice tang!!

3 teaspoons honey

Finely grated zest of one unwaxed preferably organic lemon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 heaped teaspoon of freshly grated ginger

goodly pinch of freshly ground nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon or any combination there of - also you could add a big pinch of ground ginger if you don't put in the grated fresh ginger.

Plate covered in granulated sugar to roll the balls in.

1. Toast the almonds until fragrant - about 5 minutes at 375 but it varies so check regularly they are not burning.

2. Let almonds cool completely.

3. Put almonds in a small plastic bag and bang with a heavy rolling pin until they are broken into small pieces.

4. Grind in a coffee grinder in 2 batches until fine - they may get a bit oily but that's actually OK in this recipe.

5. Chop, chop, chop all the dried fruit in small batches until they get nice and sticky, the pieces are small, there are no chunks and they hold together when pressed.

 6. Mix the fruits, ground almonds, honey, grated ginger, spices and lemon juice and zest with a fork until evenly blended.

7. Take about a small tablespoon of the sweetmeat and roll into a ball, if it doesn't stick together add more honey, then roll in the sugar on the plate and pop into a sweet little paper cup. Ta dah - that's pretty much it except for...

HONEY ICING to make it look like a little Christmas Pudding:
 This is the wing it part - 

2 heaped tablespoons of icing/confectioners sugar sifted so there are no lumps.

Honey and milk - just a tad of each.

Starting with a teeny tiny amount of the honey in a small bowl slowly slowly slowly add some honey and blend until smooth, add a little milk and blend until smooth and work the whole into a dense, thick paste that won't run when you put the tiniest bit on top of one of the Christmas Balls - work it a little to drip as above and then allow to dry. This is the hard part - hard to know how thick, hard to know how SMALL of an amount to pop on the top of a ball, hard to know how little honey and or milk, that can depend on the humidity, to add to the sugar but err on the side of less and least and you'll be fine.

I should have bought some Maraschino Cherries to put on the top - the flavour would have gone well with the almond in the sweets and you can buy non-artificial ones from The Silver Palate so instead I used some raspberry infused cranberries that were redder than the ones in the recipe.

Next time I make these I think I will add a ball of marzipan in the middle and maybe switch out the apricots for dates - I LOVE marzipan and think that would be a real treat!! The flavour does develop a little with time so you can make these a day ahead if you'd like.

Let me know if you make these and feel free to post your pics on my Facebook page HERE 

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We are awaiting a big snowstorm here in Maine - Electra is her name! I love blizzards and hope to get some nice photographs - in the meantime here are some pictures from a snow earlier this week.
 A little red squirrel is getting a snack ready for later!

 My favourite apple tree has plenty of apples for the deer who love to come for a midnight snack - last year we didn't get a single apple because of an early springtime frost - you can see we got plenty this year!

This blogpost is part of the December Tea Time Treats over at Lavender and Lovage and The Hedgecombers - do bob over and have a look at all the yummy sparkly delights - click in the box below! Thanks!

Tea Time Treats