Make our edible gifts: From Salted Brandy Butter Fudge to Mincemeat and Walnut brownies.
PUBLISHED: 11:19 18 December 2018 | UPDATED: 13:51 18 December 2018
Food editor Charlotte Smith-Jarvis shows you how to prevent waste in the kitchen this Christmas by using up those leftover ingredients.
One of my pet hates at this time of year is waste. We Brits spend a phenomenal amount on Christmas lunch and all the trimmings, but throw a huge chunk of it away – apparently the equivalent of four million meals. What?! This is insanity. Leftovers are the best bit. So with that in mind, over the next couple of weeks I’m going to show you how to use some of the bits and pieces you have lurking around the fridge and cupboard during December in more creative ways so they don’t end up in your wheelie bin.
This weekend it’s all about baking and I’m turning my attention to three things you may buy at Christmas, use once and forget about until Easter - cranberries, brandy butter and cranberry sauce. I always seem to end up with a bag of cranberries in my baking drawer around now, as I (and many other people) use the sweet red jewels in mince pies, Christmas cakes and Christmas pudding.
I’m the only one who likes brandy butter in my house (everyone else smothers their pudding in boozy cream) so inevitably have almost an entire jar left going into the New Year.
As for cranberry sauce? I’ve never seen it outside of the Christmas table.
So we’ve got our main component parts. Let’s get cooking.
Salted brandy butter fudge
(makes 30-40 pieces depending how big you cut it)
Ooh this is very good indeed, and an interesting way to use up that jar of brandy butter quite easily. Melt-in-your-mouth in texture and with a hint of brandy, the sweetness of this delectable fudge is balanced out but a hint of sea salt. Make it even better by dipping in very dark chocolate. Lovely. It’s a simple recipe but you need some time as you cannot leave it on the stove unsupervised or it’ll catch and burn. I used Tiptree Brandy Butter, which is packed with flavour.
1 tin (397g) condensed milk
350g demerara sugar
150ml whole milk
115g brandy butter
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and leave to sit for 10 minutes. This helps to get the sugar dissolving which saves you time at the stove.
Now pour into a saucepan and cook, stirring all the time, on a very low heat until the sugar has totally melted. Bring to the boil, then simmer, stirring constantly for 20 minutes. It will thicken considerably. At the end of the time, pop a little of the mix into a cup of chilled water. It should form a soft ball. If not, cook for a few more minutes. Now take off the stove and beat with a wooden spoon for five to 10 minutes. The mix will stiffen and begin to set. Pour onto a lined baking sheet to your desired thickness (I recommend 2-3cms) and leave to set before cutting into pieces.
Mincemeat and toasted walnut brownies
(Makes 16 small or 8 large brownies)
This is my regular ‘best ever’ brownie recipe enhanced with the warmth of toasted nuts and the tangy surprise of booze-soaked vine fruits and candied peel from good quality mincemeat (I used Tiptree). It’s a brilliant way to use those last for spoonfuls of mincemeat leftover from mince pie making, and for that bowl of nuts sitting at your dining table! These are crunchy, chewy and gooey. Always use the best quality dark chocolate for best results. I baked mine in rectangular silicon cake moulds from Lakeland Ltd which ensure every piece has that gorgeous crust. But you can bake them in a 20cm squared tin.
185g unsalted butter
200g good quality dark chocolate
100g golden caster sugar
175g dark brown sugar
100g plain flour
2 large eggs
65g walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2tsp sea salt
On a low heat melt the butter, sugars and chocolate. Set aside and allow to cool completely. Beat in the eggs then sift in the cocoa and flour plus the walnuts. Heat the oven to 180C. Spoon a third of your mixture into a prepared 20cmsq tin or individual small moulds (a 12 cup cupcake tin would work well too). Spoon over a few little dollops of mincemeat then cover with the rest of your mixture. Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool completely before cutting.
Cranberry and chilli digestive biscuits
Wrapped in cellophane and presented with a jar of chutney, these spicy biscuits would make a delightful gift for a foodie. Made with wholewheat flour, ground oats, chilli flakes and chewy cranberries, they have a complex flavour which partners well with any mould-ripened soft cheese (camembert, brie, vacherin) or with a strong blue. A low moisture content means they keep well and will last for about a week in an airtight tin. I used Marriage’s Golden Wholemeal Flour, which is soft and less coarse than other brown flours, giving a lighter, more refined finish. It’s excellent used in chocolate and carrot cakes too instead of plain flour.
100g wholemeal flour
65g fine oatmeal (I blitzed porridge oats in a food processor)
75g unsalted butter, cubed
1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
25g brown sugar
40g dried cranberries finely chopped
1tsp (level) chilli flakes
Milk to bind
Place the flour, oatmeal, butter, sugar and bicarbonate in a food processor and blend to breadcrumbs. Add the chilli flakes and cranberries and pulse, adding a few drops of milk at a time until you have a mixture that presses together easily into a dough. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
On a floured surface roll to half a centimetre thick and cut into your desired shape. Bake on a lined tray at 170C for 12 minutes. They don’t really spread during baking so it doesn’t matter if they are a little close on the tray.