Mint creams

Here’s my first attempt at a fondant, or cream. I hadn’t made them before because they are quite old-fashioned – and they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. However, they are mine. I love them. I grew up on Bendick’s mint fondants as a child (for special treats), and so they’re a firm favourite.

I’ve updated the traditional mint cream, with a pretty flower shape and a tiny golden bead on top to add a touch of luxury and shine.

Mm, minty fresh!

Tags: ,

Cheat’s chocolate fudge

This is a super-quick fudge recipe, without any butter and with little sugar (none added), so I’m telling myself it’s ‘healthy’. It’s also very tasty and I keep finding myself tucking in to yet another cube of the sweet stuff. It’s firm and smooth with that chocolate hit you need on a long afternoon. My little brother Daniel calls it ‘heaven in a box’.

250g good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces (I used 60g of 85% and 190g of 65%, but this is totally up to you)
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of sea salt
1 can sweetened condensed milk (around 395g)
½ tbsp vanilla extract

Line a square or rectangular pan with foil, leaving enough to hang over the edges a little to make for easy removal later. Lightly grease the foil.

Mix together chocolate, bicarb and salt in a large heatproof bowl and stir in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Set the bowl over a saucepan containing 2 cups of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is almost melted – if the chocolate stays over the heat for too long, it may separate and produce a greasy fudge. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.

Transfer the fudge to the prepared pan and spread until even. Refrigerate for around 2 hours, or until set. Cut into squares and leave to sit out for an hour or two to develop a bit of a ‘skin’. Store in an airtight container. Note: the fudge will become drier the longer it is stored, so eat it up within 2-3 weeks. Shouldn’t be too difficult – it’s rather moreish…

Tags: , ,

Quince sweetmeats

The quince is an intriguing fruit. Looking like a cross between large apple and a pear, it is inedible when raw and turns from pale yellow to a rich amber colour when cooked. I’d never tried one before, so when I spotted a handful in the local greengrocers, I knew an experiment had to commence. I decided to make quince “cheese”, which is not a cheese at all, but more like a set preserve. This works well with quince due to its high pectin content. It’s wonderfully fragrant, tasting a bit like a pear, a bit like a guava, but totally unique. This recipe was adapted from Preserves by Catherine Atkinson and Maggie Mayhew.

1 quince
160g sugar

Wash and chop the quince, and place in a large pan, seeds, skin and all (to extract maximum pectin, aiding the gelling process). Pour in enough water to nearly cover the fruit and put a lid on the pan. Bring up to boiling point and simmer for around two hours, or until the fruit has turned very tender and orangey-red. Stir every once in a while.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, extracting as much juicy pulp as you can. Pour the purée back into the pan, adding the sugar. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up a little and cook for 30 – 40 minutes, stirring constantly until the mixture is very thick. Pour the quince purée into a small oiled tin or dish and leave to set for a few hours.

Cut into pretty shapes, such as diamonds (you could even use small cookie cutters), and store in an airtight container between layers of baking paper.

They make great little nibbles.

Tags: , ,