Dried lime truffles with honey and salt (pictured above)
Prep 10 min
Cool 4 hr+
Cook 1 hr
Makes About 40
20g dried limes (about 6)
250ml double cream
Seeds and pod of ½ vanilla bean
2 tbsp light muscovado sugar
1 tbsp honey
250g dark chocolate (70%), finely chopped
¼ tsp flaky sea salt
350g dark chocolate (70%), finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped pistachios or cocoa powder
Put the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.
Crack open the dried limes – a light bash in a mortar is very efficient and satisfying here – then put the pieces of lime shrapnel in a small saucepan with the cream, vanilla, sugar and honey. Stir to combine, then put over a very low heat to infuse for 10 minutes, stirring now and then: it should not simmer or boil at any time. After the 10 minutes, crank up the heat a little. As soon as it begins to simmer, remove from the heat and strain over the chopped chocolate. Scrape and press the lime and vanilla against the sieve to extract all of their flavour, then discard. Add the salt and whisk until you have a smooth ganache. Pour into a shallow container and set aside, uncovered, in a cool place for an hour, then cover and refrigerate until just firm – about two hours.
Line an oven tray with baking paper. Remove the ganache from the fridge and, using a teaspoon, scoop out small mounds of truffle (just over 10g per truffle) and put on to the lined tray – don’t worry about shaping them at this stage. Refrigerate the truffles for half an hour to firm up, then hand-roll each mound roughly into a ball. Put back in the fridge until very firm.
To coat the truffles, put two thirds of the chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, a small saucepan of simmering water. Stir gently to melt the chocolate, remove from the heat, add the rest of the chocolate and stir until smooth.
Using two skewers, dip each truffle ball into the melted chocolate, leaving the excess to drip back into the bowl, then put back on the lined baking tray. Leave the chocolate to set a little, then roll in the chopped pistachio nuts or gently dust with cocoa powder. Refrigerate until completely set before packing in gift bags. The truffles will keep for up to two weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.
Hazelnut and seed brittle
Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
Makes 4-5 small bags
1 tbsp sesame seeds
150g skinless, roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp flaky sea salt
2 tbsp water
135g brown sugar
135g caster sugar
115g unsalted butter, cubed
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking soda
130g chocolate (60-70%), melted
Roughly chop the hazelnuts (you want fairly big pieces) and transfer to a small bowl. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over a low heat. Shake the pan regularly until they begin to take on some colour, then toss into a bowl with the hazelnuts. Toast the caraway and coriander seeds in the same pan for about a minute, then transfer to a mortar or spice grinder to grind coarsely, then add to the hazelnuts. Add the salt and mix to combine, then set aside.
Line a large oven tray with baking paper and put it close to the hob. Put the water in a small saucepan, add the sugars and butter, and put on a low heat. Stir gently until the butter has melted and the sugars dissolve.
Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring regularly to prevent it from catching and burning, then put a sugar thermometer into the caramel and cook until the temperature reaches 150C/300F – it will begin to smoke a little, but don’t worry.
Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and baking soda. Stir gently, being careful as the caramel will bubble up a little, then quickly pour the caramel evenly on to the tray. Using tea towels, carefully tilt the tray so it forms an even layer. Do not spread or touch the caramel as this will alter the consistency of the brittle. Set aside to cool and harden.
When the brittle has cooled, spread the melted chocolate all over in an even layer, then immediately sprinkle the nut and seed mix over the top. Set aside in a cool place (but not the fridge or freezer) for the chocolate to set, then break up into large shards to put into gift bags; you should get four to five small bags. The shards will keep for seven to 10 days stored in an airtight container.
Marmalade and almond rugelach
Prep/chill 2 hr 30 min
Cook 25 min
For the pastry
160g plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
⅛ tsp salt
Finely grated zest of 1 small orange
Seeds of ¼ vanilla pod
125g unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
125g cream cheese, cold
For the filling
40g flaked almonds, lightly toasted, crushed
80g light muscovado sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
150g fine-cut marmalade
25g flaked almonds, finely crushed
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp demerara sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
Make the pastry up to two days ahead. Put the flour, baking powder, salt, orange zest and vanilla seeds in a food processor and pulse twice to combine. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the cream cheese, and pulse until the dough just begins to come together in a ball around the blade.
Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured worktop and knead a little to bring it together. Divide the pastry into two, wrap loosely in clingfilm and press into flattish discs, and transfer to the fridge for at least an hour and up to two days.
For the filling, put the almonds in a small bowl with the muscovado sugar, cinnamon and cloves, and set aside. Line a large oven tray with baking paper.
Roll each piece of dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 25cm circle about 2mm thick (use a plate or saucepan lid to trace into a circle if your pastry looks very irregular). With a small spatula or back of a spoon, spread the marmalade evenly over each surface, then sprinkle with the almond sugar mix. Use a knife or, even better, a pizza wheel to cut the dough as though you are slicing a cake into 12 equal triangles. The best way to do this is to slice into quarters, then each quarter into thirds. One at a time, roll each wedge starting from the wide, outside edge and working towards the point of the triangle, so that it looks like a miniature croissant. Put on the baking tray, spaced 3cm apart, then leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/gas 6. For the glaze, crush the flaked almonds with a rolling pin into very fine pieces then combine in a small bowl with the cinnamon and sugar. Lightly brush the tops of the rugelach with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with the almond sugar mix. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown all over, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. These will keep for about four days.
Prep 30 min
Chill 2 hr
Cook 20 min
Makes About 50
420g plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of/baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp each ground cloves,
1 tsp ground ginger, ground allspice
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp salt
125g unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
200g light muscovado sugar
200g black treacle
1 egg, lightly whisked
30g candied orange peel (optional), finely chopped
For the glaze
100g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp water (or rum)
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt into a bowl and set aside.
Put the butter, sugar and treacle in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on a medium-high speed for about two minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times to ensure it is evenly mixed.
Add the egg and beat to incorporate, then, on a low speed, add the candied peel (if using) and the dry ingredients. Mix until a dough comes together around the paddle, then tip out on to a clean, lightly floured worktop. Knead gently to bring together, then split roughly into two. Cover each half with a wet tea towel, then press gently to form flattish discs, put in the fridge for at least two hours and up to three days.
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 195C (175C fan)/gas 5½ and line two oven trays with baking paper. Working with one piece of dough at a time, unwrap and put on a lightly floured worktop. Roll the disc out to 6-7mm thick, then use biscuit cutters to cut out shapes. Transfer to the lined trays, then bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown. The biscuits will be crisp around the edges and slightly soft in the middle.
While the biscuits are cooking, make the glaze by whisking together the icing sugar and water/rum). When done, remove the biscuits from the oven, leave to stand for two minutes, then brush with the glaze while the biscuits are still warm.
Cool completely before wrapping. The biscuits will be crisp to begin with and will soften over time, and will keep for three weeks.