EEK. It’s almost Christmas! If you are anything like me you aren’t nearly ready and nothing is wrapped and the kitchen is covered in washing up and cook books and your cat is on you shoulder…
Seriously. She does that. She’s a bit odd, my DeeDee.
Anyhoo, if there’s anyone you’ve forgotten to buy for, or you need to whip up some petit foursfor an impromptu gathering, or even the big day, worry not! I have you covered.
The idea is very simple, but the result delicious, and for me at least, somewhat traditional. To start with, here are some ideas for chocolatey nibbles to save the day.
Chocolate Pretzels, Marzipans, Gingers and Florentines
You will need:
- 300g+ Dark or milk chocolate
- Salted Pretzels
- Crystallised Ginger
- Dried cranberries and other fruits, sliced almonds, honeycomb, biscuit and sprinkles for the florentines.
Melt your chocolate. I recommend milk chocolate for the pretzels, and dark for marzipan, but you can use dark or milk for ginger and florentines.
For pretzels, ginger and marzipan cubes: Using a fork, drop then roll the piece of filling in the chocolate. Shake of the excess gently and set on a sheet of greaseproof paper to cool and set. Ideally put the whole sheet in a cool, unheated room to set when you have filled it up.
Once set, peel the snack off the paper and store in an airtight container or jar. Keep cool.
For the florentines, it couldn’t be simpler. Spoon out puddles of your favoured chocolate, and top whilst still wet with your choice of fruit, nuts, biscuit etc. These make wonderful gifts as you can personalise them. I made these for someone who loves milk chocolate and honeycomb, and embellished with pretty sprinkles and white chocolate stars.
As far as setting and storing the florentines, the same rules apply as for the pretzels etc. Packaged up in a jar with a pretty ribbon, these make lovely gifts.
Moving on… traditional peppermint creams, which I love, are made with egg white, and whilst with a fresh egg you are almost certainly safe, it is better to be safe than sorry if you are likely to feed these to children, the elderly or pregnant women.
If you know someone with a seriously sweet tooth, or you yourself love the candy cane peppermintyness of after dinner mints, then this is the chocolate coated treat for you. It’s really easy to make at home, and great to do with kids. You can use this method to make Sugar Mice, and vary the flavours to make Rose or Violet fondants… and this recipe is completely safe for sensitive parties. It will also keep for weeks in the fridge if you need to make it in advance.
I know, I know, one of the ingredients is a premix. These recipes are designed to be super quick and easy, after all. You can buy Fondant Icing Sugar in almost all supermarkets. If you simply can’t it, there are lots of tutorials online, or you can buy pre-made fondant icing or sugar paste from supermarkets or craft shops. I prefer to make it, even if it is just with a premix, as you avoid lots of additives and preservatives that way, which can colour the flavour.
After Dinner Mint Fondants
- 500g Fondant Icing Sugar
- 3-4 tsbpWater
- 1 tsp Peppermint extract
- 200g Dark chocolate
Add half the icing sugar to a bowl and mix with 3 tbsp of water and your peppermint.
Add more icing sugar until all of the sugar has been added and you have solid, dough like ball. You can use a further tablespoon of water more if you need it.
At this point, you can make little balls of fondant with your hands, or dust a surface with icing sugar and roll out the dough to be cut. Use small cutters.
Dip the balls or shapes in chocolate with a fork, shake off the excess and set on a sheet of greaseproof paper to set. With shapes, you can dip half the shape in and leave half uncovered, or drizzled in chocolate for a ‘fancy-er’ effect.
Store in airtight containers in a cool place. They will last up to 3 weeks in the fridge.
I hope these petits fours can help you out of a tight spot!