Making edible gifts is definitely my favourite activity during Christmas. After the much loved Pfeffernüsse last week, I could not keep myself away from the wide array of Christmas recipes I have collected over years. Deliciously illustrated pages depicting Christmas themed cookies, brownies, cupcakes and candy from my innumerable cookbooks made it impossibly difficult to settle on a single baking project. In the end, I decided to go ahead with what I already had in my kitchen cupboard since my Christmas shopping would invariably include lots of new exotic ingredients from gourmet shops. I unfortunately happen to be an impulsive shopper as most of the stuff I buy on whim finally find themselves spending weeks to months unattended till I remember to invest them into a worthy recipe.

A big jar of Nutella always holds the place of pride on my kitchen shelf along with other baking essentials like my bottle of golden syrup and my stash of vanilla pods from Madagascar. Nutella is a life-saving ingredient, you can use it as an emergency filling for any sweet bakes or even as frosting if you need a last-minute topping everyone will love. When I found this gorgeous set of pictures featuring Nutella truffles, dipped in dark chocolate and dusted with golden ‘hazelnut dust’ on DeliciouslyYum, I instantly bookmarked them as the chocolate candy I would blog about this Christmas.

NUTELLA TRUFFLES

Ingredients:

14 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate

1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread/ Nutella

1/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature

1 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil, optional

Roasted, chopped hazelnuts for sprinkling

Method:

  • Line a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside. Place 10 ounces of the chocolate into a medium bowl.
  • Using the microwave or stove, heat up heavy cream until hot, but not boiling. Pour over the chocolate.

  • Let stand for 1-2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir mixture until combined and chocolate is melted.
  • Stir in chocolate hazelnut spread and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until it is set.

  • With the help of a small scoop (about 1 teaspoon), scoop out the chocolate mixture and form into balls.
  • Place the chocolate balls onto prepared cookie sheet and place them in the freezer for 15 to 30 minutes.

  • Heat remaining chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl until melted. Add oil, if using, and stir to combine.
  • Remove the firm chocolate balls from the freezer and place one ball at a time into the melted chocolate.

  • Using a fork, evenly coat each ball with the melted chocolate and remove the truffle from the chocolate.
  • Place on the baking sheet and repeat with remaining balls. Pour leftover chocolate in a small Ziploc bag.

  • Cut off one corner and pipe melted chocolate on top and finish with hazelnuts. Return truffles to freezer.
  • Leave for 15 minutes until well set. Keeps up to 7 days stored in the fridge or up to 4 weeks in the freezer.

While my truffle balls were setting in the fridge, waiting to be packaged in their individual wrappers, I found time for another candy I have been longing to make ever since I saw the recipe on a tin of Nestle condensed milk. Luckily, the online recipe on The Pretty Blog comes as close to the real thing as I can remember. Super sweet, sticky cubes of vanilla fudge make a nice addition to any Christmas hamper and are quite inexpensive if you need to make large batches. The most important step is achieve the perfect fudge-like texture is to beat it well after it starts to caramelize. Before it sets completely, you can fold in any topping of your choice including chocolate chips, cranberries, apricots, chopped nuts or a combination of any of these but my favorite remains a sprinkling of our local coarse sea salt.

VANILLA FUDGE

Ingredients:

500 ml (2cups) granulated sugar

75 ml (5 tablespoons) cold water

25 ml (5 teaspoons) golden syrup

60 g unsalted butter, softened

1 can (390g) condensed milk

5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

Method:

  • Put sugar and water into a large heavy saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

  • Add the butter and syrup and stir until the butter has melted. Add the condensed milk and stir it.

  • Continue stirring till it comes to the boil. Boil very slowly on low heat, stirring every minute or 2.

  • Boil until soft ball stage, mixture will darken to a deep caramel colour and will form sugar crystals.

  • Remove mixture from the stove, add the vanilla extract and seeds and beat with a wooden spoon.

  • Beating the fudge for about 5 to 10 minutes will ensure a great texture when it is cools completely.

  • Pour the hot fudge into a 22 x 22 cm square pan lightly greased with butter and level the surface.

  • Leave it to cool completely in pan. Cut into squares when cold and store in an air-tight container.

Homemade Christmas Candy

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