Let the Christmas baking commence!

I always look forward to this time, a few months before Christmas because it means just one thing… CHRISTMAS BAKING!!!!! I love testing new recipes, making things I’ve never tried an opportunity to make throughout the rest of the year or think to make!

Last year was the year of serious fudge action with fudge selection boxes with various flavours of fudgey goodness, vanilla marshmallows (remarkably better than shop bought and relatively simple) and coconut ice, which is a huge hit with both my Grandma and Chris’s sister (so will definitely be coming out again this year).

This year I decided I’d like to give some foodie hampers as gifts rather than spending too much money on ‘things’ that may well be recycled, taken to the charity shop or put in the loft.  As we all run out of space in our already bulging home, surely edible gifts are preferable?  Easily deposed of and saves you spending out on Christmas classics…

On my hit list this year is:

  • Ginger wine
  • Onion marmalade / chutney (depending on which recipe comes out favourite in testing)
  • Small Christmas cake
  • Family Christmas pudding
  • Cheesy biscuits
  • Chilli Spiced nuts

My particular favourites are the marmalade (of which I have become addicted this year) and (somewhat surprisingly to me) the Christmas pudding !!  I have never been fond of such an item, always favouring anything chocolate as a better pudding alternative.  However upon making Delia‘s classic recipe from her Complete How to Cook, I thought it rude to refuse my own homemade pudding and much to my bemusement I found I really like it!  I will be leaning towards Delia on this front again, because she is the Queen of all classic recipes of course!  I am very excited about trying out a Christmas Cake recipe from my absolutely FAVOURITE food writer Felicity Cloake (who writes the Perfect column for the Guardian if you’re not familiar – look her up immediately) she is an absolute GENIUS!

Today I have managed to try two different onion marmalade recipes, one much more successful than the other in terms of what I wanted to achieve, which was a sweet, sticky texture, more like jam than chutney.  The other was called marmalade but was actually chutney.

First attempt was the River Cottage Caramelised Onion Marmalade, which whilst lovely as a chutney was not sweet or caramelised enough to be anything like a marmalade.  The more successful was the BBC Good Food Red Onion Marmalade, which was deliciously sticky and much more what I was looking for.  I made both in much smaller quantities than in these recipes for the purpose of testing these…

Red Onion Marmalade – make one small taster jar

1 Red Onion, diced

1 Garlic Clove, crushed

1 Knob of Butter

2 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar

Sprinkle of dried Thyme

Sprinkle of dried chilli flakes

3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

1 Tbsp Red Wine

1 Dsp Port

Method:

1) Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees and put the clean jam jar inside.

2) Heat a knob of butter in a large saucepan on a low-medium heat (I used 3 on my electric hob) and add the onion and garlic.  Cook gently, stirring frequently.

3) Add salt to release the water in the onions and stir in the brown sugar, thyme and chilli flakes.  Stir.

4) Cook down, stirring often.  When the onions are softened and beginning to cook through add the vinegar, wine and port.

5) Simmer over a low heat until all is cooked won and mixture has become thicker and syrupy.

6) Take the jam jar from the oven with an oven glove and spoon the mixture in.  Leave to cool.

I made a start on the Ginger wine which I also took from the Guardian website (click on Ginger wine for the link) and also added Apricot Brandy to the selection of dried fruit for the cake.

I’ll keep you posted on progress!

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